By Ed Brennen
Manning School of Business alumna Kellsie Howard
’19 doesn’t consider herself a gamer. But as product manager at Warner Bros. Games, she admits it was “pretty cool” to see her name in the credits of “Mortal Kombat 11,” the latest release in the billion-dollar multimedia franchise.
“I like ‘Sims’ and ‘Animal Crossing’ — more of the Nintendo-y games — but being in the credits for ‘Mortal Kombat’ was awesome,” says Howard, who returned to her alma mater recently to speak with students in Visiting Faculty Lecturer Milissa Moynihan
’s Introduction to Entrepreneurship and Business classes about finding their career passions.
While working in the male-dominated video game industry “can be tough,” Howard says she felt well-prepared thanks to her experience at UML. She was the founding president of the Joy Tong Women in Business student organization, where overcoming sexism and misogyny in the workplace was a frequent topic of discussion.
“You just have to keep asking questions and make yourself stand out in meetings,” Howard told students. “Senior leadership will usually take notice.”
A native of Georgetown, Massachusetts, Howard told students to think of their undergraduate experience as their “pilot program,” where they can use resources like internships, co-ops, student clubs and volunteer opportunities to figure out what they’re passionate about.
As a first-year student, Howard thought she wanted to study accounting
. But an internship at Putnam Investments made her realize she “wasn’t as interested in numbers,” so she shifted her concentrations to finance
She also told students to remain positive. Howard was disappointed after being “rejected right away” for a coveted marketing co-op at iRobot her junior year — only to be offered an interview for a product manager co-op instead.
“I got it, and the very first day, I knew this was something I really liked to do. I’d found my career passion,” says Howard, who was a recipient of the Chancellor’s Medal for Student Service.
Howard got her foot in the door at Warner Bros. during her senior year, when she worked as a product management intern at the company’s Needham, Massachusetts, offices. That led to her current product manager role, which requires a knowledge of user experience design, technology and business.
“My work relates to what a lot of the students are getting into now,” says Howard, who welcomed the opportunity to share her story with the classes. “I always appreciated when business professors would have speakers from industry. That was very valuable for me.”
Howard’s story resonated with Lily Hammar, a first-year business student from North Andover, Massachusetts, who is hoping to work in the gaming industry.
“It gave me a little more motivation and hope for what I’m going to do,” says Hammar, who also appreciated hearing how Howard balanced school, work and extracurricular activities as a student. “That’s something I’ve been stressed about, but now I feel a little more confident in balancing everything.”
Alyssa Carter, a first-year finance student from Lowell, took lots of notes during the talk.
“It was really inspiring,” Carter says. “It’s nice to hear from a recent graduate like her. It gives me more hope that I can do it.”