In 2015, Mélanie Blanchet joined Ubisoft, a video game company headquartered in Paris, with studios and offices in over 40 locations. She interned at Ubisoft Montreal as part of an Information Technology program she was taking at the time. A month before her internship ended, she was hired full-time.
It was a huge office and her department alone was made up of over 50 people. Although Mélanie enjoyed working there, she readily accepted the opportunity to move to Winnipeg to help set up Ubisoft’s office.
Mélanie is Francophone and had difficulty speaking English. She had been taking classes to try to improve her English but found it hard to do in Montreal where most people communicated in French.
So, she asked her department head if there were any internship opportunities in Toronto, Halifax or the Europa – any English-speaking location where she could improve her language skills. When she heard about the company was looking for people to set up the new Winnipeg office, she was immediately interested. She went for an interview to try for a term position of six months or a year. At the interview, they told her that the position was permanent.
Mélanie thought about it for a night and accepted the job the next morning. Moving to Winnipeg was more than a chance for her to become fluent in English. It was also an opportunity to speed up her career trajectory by being involved in setting up a new office from scratch.
“I knew I would be the first IT person here, so I will grow with the company,” she says.
However, the transition was not an easy one. Five employees, from other studios, moved to Winnipeg, but Mélanie was the only one to move all by herself to a city where she didn’t know anyone.
“All my family, friends, my world was in Montreal,” she said. “It was difficult to move here alone.”
As the only female technician in her team of thirty in Montreal, Mélanie has always worked well independently. Even when she was studying, she found that she was the only female IT student in three of the active cohorts in school. She was also older and more organized than most of the students. She took notes for two students with learning challenges.
“I was a little bit like their mother,” she said. “I looked over them.”
It’s been almost a year since Mélanie moved to Winnipeg. After the initial struggles, it has started to feel like home. She has an apartment she loves, good friends and a cat. She visits Montreal often for workshops and training and gets to visit family.
Her career is progressing too. She serves as the only IT service provider in the operations department at Ubisoft Winnipeg, though the studio is in the process of hiring another IT technician. Her goal when she moved here was to get the office up and running in six months, which she did.
“I’m really proud of that accomplishment,” she said. “It was a lot of work.”
Mélanie says that she would never had a chance to do that had she stayed in Montreal. The Montreal studio has been open for more than 20 years and the organization has already been set up.
“I touched some stuff that not a lot of people in Montreal have done,” she said.
She also found a female career mentor who has been helping her develop the leadership skills she needs to hire and head a team. Mélanie is a self-proclaimed perfectionist who is used to taking ownership of her projects. With her mentor’s support, she has been learning how to delegate work and manage staff.
Mélanie says that people are always surprised when her colleague tells their friends that the IT service providers at Ubisoft Winnipeg are 100 per cent female.
“I alone am Ubisoft’s Winnipeg’s IT technician so yes, it is,” she says with a smile.