Oddworld's Inhabitants: Jenny Shaheen, Marketing Manager [Hosted by Oddworld.com] Date: September 2004 Interviewer: Oddworld.com Interviewee: Jenny Shaheen
Oddworld’s Inhabitants are as diverse as the world they’ve worked together to create. Here’s where you’ll find interviews and other informative articles spotlighting the many creative folk that work at Oddworld Inhabitants. Be they headline players or behind-the-scenes heroes, the Inhabitants profiled here all share Oddworld’s ceaseless dedication to bringing you the best worlds and games that you’ve ever experienced.
Jenny Shaheen, Marketing Manager
Q: You are a SLO county native. Is that unusual at OWI? How does a game company like OWI fit in little college town like San Luis Obispo?
Jenny Shaheen: Unusual, yes. I’d say maybe 10% of us are locals. We try our best to keep our presence here a little off the radar because we are in a small town. Once folks do make it up here for one reason or another and the word gets out, then PR side of my job goes nutz! Can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “I can’t believe all of this is up here, how long have you been here???” The answer … 10 years and counting.
Q: What’s your background?
Jenny Shaheen: My experience as a theatrical producer is what led me, and thankfully Oddworld, to believe I had what it took to work in a production environment like this. I’m not a gamer but I am very at home working in a creative environment where the daily routine is anything but.
Q: You’ve held more than one position at Oddworld. What led you to Marketing?
Jenny Shaheen: I was hired on as the Office Administrator and spent my first three years in that position, giving me a chance to learn the industry and soak up the environment while not being directly responsible for anything related to the game or production. A fair amount of my duties as the administrator though crossed over into Marketing and PR, such as coordinating industry events such as E3, GDC, Siggraph, as well as serving as a liaison for visitors from the press and the publishers. I was then promoted to Marketing Manager and given the chance to work directly under Sherry McKenna and since that day I’ve never looked back.
Q: What is the easiest part of your job, and what is the hardest?
Jenny Shaheen: That’s easy. The answer to both is communication. It comprises about 70% of my day. At times it can fly like the wind and other times it can be the reason that everything comes screeching to a halt. We’ve all been taught that it’s how you say something that matters but that philosophy never took communication by email into account. 🙂 Timing and tone is everything. We not only rely internally on email to communicate to our co-workers that are 10 feet down the hall but I regularly work with people that I’ve never met, may never meet, who are from countries all over the world, all with their own unique communication styles and sensibilities, and that task is not to be taken lightly. I’ve found my nitch over the years but it was not always smooth sailing. I have both my bruises and medals to prove it.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
Jenny Shaheen: Assuming you mean after I cover my other job’s morning responsibilities (getting the kids to school) I start the day with a good cup of Earl Grey tea and sit down in my refreshingly cool (read: like an icebox) office and open my email. I sort, trash, and reply my way through the morning until Cathy and Kristin (my marketing counterparts) come into my office for our late morning catch up routine where they get to sit on the inviting leather couch that gets to reside in my office simply because I have the room for it! We discuss anything from current projects to marketing asset requests to fan relations. Once we’re all up to speed, we may do lunch together or take our traditional or habitual 2+ mile walk into the lovely hills of San Luis Obispo. The afternoon may consist of a meeting with Sherry or a conference call with our publisher. Or we may simply spend the afternoon in our marketing room filling requests for marketing assets. The day usually wraps with some semi-psuedo-would-be urgent request that needs to be handled yesterday and we get to spend tomorrow trying to figure out how to turn back time!
Q: Who (or what) inspires you? Why?
Jenny Shaheen: Two things.
1. People who follow their own advice and live content with their ideals.
2. Children singing in elementary school cafeterias that smell like ketchup and fish sticks. It is the perfect balance of innocence, beauty and reality.
Q: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
Jenny Shaheen: I spend most of my time with my family of five, my husband and three daughters. We enjoy doing live theater so we started our own production company that produces Musical Theater, in our spare time, which is usually between 1-5am. I also sing in a band called Mixed CO., we do music from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.
Q: What CD are you currently listening too?
Jenny Shaheen: “Resination”. It’s a local band that does reggae music.
Q: What does someone have to do to get a tour at Oddworld? Let me rephrase. How much chocolate must one provide in order to get a tour of Oddworld?
Jenny Shaheen: Well, as everyone knows, we are not allowed such atrocities as chocolate here at Oddworld. Therefore, all tour donations and/or bribes must be clearly mislabeled and wrapped in brown paper and left at the base of the stairs. Upon receipt of them, assuming your request is granted, we will contact you by prank calling your house for a fortnight at which time you may call to schedule your tour.
Q: What kind of a place is Oddworld? Do you have any wacky work stories that you could share?
Jenny Shaheen: Oddworld is creative and driven. The attention to detail here exceeds that of those who make their livings etching names on white rice. But we are a family and that translates to all the traits that the word family entails; tight knit, defiant, independent, loving, frustrating, dependent, supportive, and loyal.
Wacky Stories? Can we talk about the time when we simply couldn’t decide on which scent of “urinal cake” that we wanted to select for the men’s restroom, so we took turns smelling them all? Is that too gross? Too much detail? Think “names on white rice” again …
Q: What is your favorite item from the marketing room? (boxers, BigAss Crackers, Snot gulp, OW fleeces, etc.)
Jenny Shaheen: That would have to be our 8-disc DVD burner that has just made it’s way into our lives. Thank you tech department!!!
Q: In degrees Farenheit, what is the temperature in your office right now?
Jenny Shaheen: See Question #5 and add 3 thermals, a parka, and a muff.
· #5+3+1+1=10 degrees
Q: If you could change jobs with one of the other Inhabitants who would it be and why?
Jenny Shaheen: Probably Michael Bross, our Sound Designer/Composer. I’ve always wanted to play the piano and I think it would be amazing to create music that represented your thoughts and feelings and conveyed that to others. I mean, have you heard his stuff???!!!
Q: What advice would you give someone trying to break into games? What type of education does someone need to do your job?
Jenny Shaheen: I’m trying not to do the advice thing, as I have trouble taking my own. BUT from what I’ve heard around here in my eight-year tenure, is that passion for your goal is required to be successful at anything and after that if you immerse yourself in the details of what you’re interested in and strive to be the best, there is little that will get in your way.
Q: Who is your favorite Oddworld character? Why?
Jenny Shaheen: You mean besides Janet, our accountant?
Q: Can you tell us something about Lorne and/or Sherry that we don’t already know? Please!
Jenny Shaheen: Sherry hates shoes. The moment she sits down at her desk she kicks them off, therefore she only wears shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Pretty funny though cause her desk is made of glass so the secret is not that well kept. Lorne’s hostility is directed towards onions and peppers. The requirement that he eat them as a small boy peppered his childhood days (pun intended) with an irreversible desire to rid the world of their existence.
Q: You were involved with the Art of Oddworld Book. What was your favorite thing about the experience?!
Jenny Shaheen: My favorite thing about the book was seeing Cathy Johnson, our Creative Services Manager, fulfill her dream of putting it together and earning herself the credit of Art Director.
Q: Can you tell us something about the new game? Please!
Jenny Shaheen: Sure, what do you what to know? : )