Agnė Vitkutė is Head of Publisher Relations at G.Round and aims to help independent game developers publish excellent titles. G.Round offers playtesting to provide critical, early feedback to indie game devs to help them create more compelling titles.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role?

My name is Agné Vitkutė, and I’ve been working in the video games industry since 2014, when I started as a PR intern, and never looked back. I have held various positions like Game Scout, Business Developer and Partnership Manager. All of these roles were aimed at helping game developers succeed. I also continuously dedicate time to mentor indie developers about pitching and marketing and connecting people in the industry who could bring value to each other.

Currently, I’m the Head of Publisher Relations at G.Round, a community-driven playtesting platform, where I’m focused on promoting a data-driven approach to PC game development by collecting feedback and data from the community; we help developers make necessary improvements before investing too much time and resources into the game.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

When I was 15, I had a plan for life. I knew I wanted to work in Biochemistry or Genetics and be a scientist like my dad. While I do have a BSc in Biotechnology and Microbiology, that plan is long gone. I got into the video games industry not because that was my goal, I didn’t even know that video games PR exists, but it accidentally got in my way while I was running away from biology. However, nine years later, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I stopped having plans and kept accepting exciting opportunities that gave me experiences I couldn’t have planned for myself.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way, and how did you overcome these?

My biggest challenge was changing direction within the video games industry. I was very good at PR and worked for a fantastic company for five years, but over those years, I figured out that business development was what I wanted to do. I needed more direct experience and had to accept that I was starting over. Leaving my familiar life behind and finding people who would take a chance on me was extremely difficult. Luckily, I also spent years building genuine relationships and helping people as much as I could, and it opened many doors for me.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

While I worked on many amazing projects and held various interesting positions over my career, my greatest achievement was one particular situation and how I handled it. I was burnt out and unhappy at my job, and it wasn’t the first time I found myself in this situation. But this time, instead of feeling resentful and running away to the next job, I took responsibility for my future, wrote down everything frustrating at work, everything that prevented me from doing my job at my best, and presented it to my manager, saying that we have issues. We all want to solve them and make my life easier and the company more successful. We’re in this together. I had very concrete complaints and actions that needed to be taken, and the company did their best to keep me. I felt empowered that I was finally in a position where I was not replaceable and had the power to improve my work life, not just be at the mercy of my employer.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Good mentors and role models. My former boss, Audra McIver, from Plan of Attack, took a chance on me, taught me everything she knew, introduced me to people and helped me understand that I don’t need to accept disrespectful behavior from anyone, no matter what their position is.

What top tips would you give an individual trying to excel in their career in technology?

Invest in your professional network. Knowing people will help you land your next job and teach you specific expertise you won’t find in any books. Build genuine relationships without categorizing people into useful and not. Try to help everyone as much as possible, whether it’s an introduction, feedback, or sharing your own experience. Ask for help. You need to work hard, but asking for tips and mentoring will increase the output of your hard work tenfold.

What barriers for women working in tech, are still to be overcome?

While it’s getting better, the environment is still hostile for women in tech, from sexual harassment to stereotypes and slower career progression. The lack of role models in leadership positions makes women pivot their careers into a different field where they feel they can climb the career ladder quicker without constantly trying to prove themselves as equals.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

It doesn’t apply to all women. From my experience, we tend to undersell ourselves; whether pointing out our lack of experience in interviews or not applying to positions, we’re not a 100% fit for. It sounds counterintuitive, but progressing women’s careers starts with the job description. Remove all the nice-to-have requirements, remove seniority requirements leave only necessities without gendered language like “rockstar” or “ninja”. As long as the person has experience and expertise, it doesn’t matter if they held a senior position; you could be their first. Promote women within the company before hiring externally. Sure, they might not know certain things, but there’s no guarantee that the new person will either, no matter what their CV says.

In an ideal world, how would you improve gender diversity in tech?

One way to increase gender diversity is to hire more women and marginalized genders. Another one is reducing the number of toxic and sexist men, even high performers. One high performer might cost multiple good performers that you’ll lose because of him. The net performance will be down, and many resources will be spent on hiring and training new people.

As for inviting more women into the tech industry, I would start young. Invite schoolkids to women-led companies to normalize seeing women as leaders and inspire young girls to aspire to work in tech. Teach young women and girls to know their worth and show studies that more empathetic leadership styles.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I definitely recommend attending Women in Games events and gatherings and joining SavePoint Industry Gathering.