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Embracing Imperfections with our VP of HR, Adrian Garton

Adrian Garton, VP of HR, stands confidently with crossed arms, smiling at the camera in a pink shirt.

In our latest interview series, we have been fortunate to interview Kwalee game industry legends such as Jen Flannery, Simon Platt, Tom Bromwich, and now we sit down with our VP of HR, Adrian Garton. From childhood tech toys like the iconic ‘Big Trak’ to strategic game preferences and a surprising career journey, Adrian shares his unique perspective on technology, gaming, and the twists that led him to Kwalee.


Adrian, let's begin by looking into your relationship with technology, what was that like when you were younger? 

With technology, we go way back, all my toys as a kid were as high-tech as I could get my parents to buy me. The one that in particular springs to mind is the ‘Big Trak’ that I had. This was a computerised toy that would be programmed with buttons on the top, and you could program in its route, such as left, right, number of degrees in its turn, it was great. It was one of the world's most wanted toys at one point and I was lucky to have been given one of those for Christmas. From an early age, I was a quick adopter of technology skills, like word processing my homework for example. The teachers were thankfully ok with it, as my handwriting was terrible. Looking back, I think my first computer for word processing was an Atari ST, it was more than a foot wide. It was great as I could play games and use them to be productive with homework and creativity skills.


Have you always had an interest in gaming? 

I was always a bit of a computer gamer from as far as I can really remember. I have always been fascinated with the early motion hand held toys when I was younger. Thinking back, my older brother was given a Commodore Plus/4 years ago, and this then pushed my excitement for gaming, loading a tape deck, and having a go at coding.


As I grew into my teenage years, I began to enjoy playing more games that had a strategic genre to them. I really liked games like Populous, when that came out I probably played that for a billion hours. I also spent most of my time playing a game called Cossacks: Back To War, I would spend hours mining for resources and building my digital empire.


The game I play most now by miles is The Elder Scrolls Online. I got into that from having played Skyrim, another game that I would spend billions of hours playing. I got into it from reading a positive online review, so I was keen to give it a go and now I absolutely love it. This game is exactly my cup of tea, for me it’s the fact that there is an open world style of play, where you can do what you want, go whichever direction you want to go in, and take time to build up your character. 


Through your life, what was the plan career wise?

I originally wanted to be a writer, (and one of these days I might finish something.) The only thing I ever thought I was any good at was writing fantasy and nonfiction pieces. Looking back, I was more interested in working for myself than for some big “corporate” because I dislike feeling as though I’ve been put in a box and having to get aligned with bureaucracy I don’t agree with. That was never me, so I initially wanted to set up my own business and work for myself. It was essentially a tech business, buying and selling software for the Atari home computer. It was a kind-of public domain library with a few bells and whistles. I couldn’t develop the ideas I had as I couldn’t get finance, being under 18 as I was then.


That led me to take roles with other companies to get some money together, and to be honest it’s easy to get addicted to “salary” and eventually I gave up and joined the rat race along with everyone else. I soon found myself moving into HR, working my way through the ranks up to HR Director level and then Chief People Officer for Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS). After a five year stint helping to get the company back on its feet, I moved on, jumped industry into something that I feel is more aligned to my interests and values, and now I’m here at Kwalee.

One of the reasons I've stayed in HR is you get a relatively unprecedented opportunity to help people on their career journey, and watching people make something of themselves is tremendously rewarding.


What does HR mean to you? 

People have lots of different views about what HR is. From my perspective HR
is two things:

  • Risk management for businesses 
  • Make our business message accessible and achievable.

With risk management for the business, I need to make sure all guidelines and policies are followed by our teams. On the employment side for our team members, it's about making sure that what we're trying to do is accessible and achievable. It’s about taking our business objectives and making that accessible to the people who work for the organisation. This also ensures we are protecting their rights, interests and supporting them in terms of their Career Development, and all the way through to making sure that our managers are able to be excellent mentors and provide leadership. 


What was it about your role at Kwalee that made you want to apply for it? 

There were a couple of reasons, one of them being my history of gaming, so the idea of coming to work for a gaming company was a big draw. Another reason was that I specifically didn’t want to go back to my previous career sectors, they had caused me to feel a lot of stress over the years and I’d had enough.

When I looked into the company the first thing I noticed was how great the people were in the organisation, I could see myself working with these teams. And there was a real passion that you don't get in a lot of businesses. I remember thinking that my skill set seemed really suited to Kwalee, that my experience could really make a difference, and have quite a lot of fun whilst doing it.

Coming up to my one year work anniversary, I can honestly say this is the job that I have loved the most in my career. It’s really great to be driving home at the end of the day and say “yes, this is all going in the right direction.” 

Finally, to wrap this up, any advice on career progression and development? 

There are a few things I would suggest, one of them is firstly don’t lose yourself. I’ve taken the time to know myself as I’ve gone through these various roles, it’s important to know what you're all about and where your passions lie. Remembering as well you don't have to be perfect, to make a real difference you need to be aware of your strengths and imperfections to succeed. Make sure to always keep an understanding of yourself.


How are your Elvish linguistics? Can you beat Adrian’s score on ‘Lord of the Rings’ knowledge? Find out in the full podcast. Finally, as Mattie and Adrian weave tales of Middle-earth, why not consider joining our exceptional team here at Kwalee. 


Passionate minds of Kwalee, delivering captivating insights for gamers and developers alike.

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