Women In Business & Industry



Follow Us

Find us on FacebookFind us on LinkedInFollow us on TwitterSubscribe to our NewsletterAdd our RSS Feed

Font Size

Change Font Size

Halo Effect: Xbox exec wants more women in video gaming industry

Bonnie RossThe woman who leads the popular Halo video game franchise says her sports background not only got her into gaming, but helped level the playing field in a traditionally male-dominated field that she wants more women to enter.

She also credits her success to the foundation of technical and communication skills gained from her internship and education while attending Colorado State University.

Bonnie Ross is corporate vice president at Xbox and head of 343 Industries, the studio that oversees the Halo video game franchise.

Fortune magazine called her one of the 10 most powerful women in video games in 2014.

“After my talks, I have a ton of women and girls come up to me and say, ‘I didn’t know you could do this,’” Ross says, referring to speeches she has given at events focused on women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The California native played sports growing up, and her first video game was a rudimentary basketball handheld made by Mattel in the 1970s.

“Ultimately, I ended up in gaming because of sports,” Ross says.

Her sports background paid off in other ways early in her career. Her ability to hang with — if not beat outright — her male co-workers in noon basketball sessions and company softball games helped her gain respect among her peers. It also provided valuable lessons for her profession.

“Having the ability to fail, learn from your failures and surround yourself with people who have other strengths is key,” Ross says. “And leadership does shift, whether it’s on the court or the field. You may start out as the point guard, but your role changes. Leadership is dynamic, and the leader is not always the one out in front. You need to know when to be in front and when to take a step back.”

An engineering start

She started her college career in engineering, in part because her dad was an engineer. But as was typical during that time, she was one of the only women in her engineering major. In addition to wanting more creativity, she found it difficult to see how the skills she was learning would translate to a job in a STEM discipline.

“It’s a common challenge, especially with women in STEM fields, not being able to see what you can do with that education,” Ross says. “If you become a doctor, you know you’re going to end up with a stethoscope around your neck. In engineering, you don’t always see how to apply it. It’s not an obvious endgame.”

It’s a problem that CSU has already taken on: The university recently received a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to better connect what is taught in electrical and computer engineering with real-world applications. Ross lauds efforts like these to increase the number of women in the pipeline for STEM fields.

“We have an issue that starts in high school and college,” she says. “You can’t recruit them if they’re not there. How do we make technology and engineering the fields that both men and women want to pursue?”

Jan Nerger, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, where Ross studied computer science and physics, agrees.

“It’s a huge priority in our college, recruiting and retaining more women in the STEM disciplines,” she says. “Someone like Bonnie is such a wonderful role model for how women can be successful in these fields. We need to provide women with more support and networking. For example, in our college all female faculty belong to our Women in Natural Sciences program, which works to promote and sustain a positive environment for women.”

Switch to journalism

At CSU, Ross ended up switching to a fledgling technical writing track in the journalism department during the 1987-88 school year. Through that program she gained a summer internship at IBM, where they liked her work so much they kept her on.

“This move seriously changed my life,” she says. “This was an amazing three-month internship, and because they thought I was doing a good job, it got extended to a two-year internship. My combination of technology and writing was hugely beneficial.”

In her free time, Ross wrote UNIX programming manuals for CSU’s computer labs. She was also an assistant coach for high school tennis teams and junior high basketball. She graduated in 1989 with a degree in technical communication and a concentration in physics and computer science.

“When I applied to technology companies because of my degree in technical communication, which was brand-new at the time, it really opened up a lot of opportunities,” Ross says. “Hewlett Packard, Texas Instruments, Microsoft and others opened their doors to me because they said they had a bunch of fiction writers trying to be tech writers.”

“She tied together an innovative collection of courses, including computer programming, physics and math,” says Greg Luft, head of CSU’s Department of Journalism and Media Communication, who recalls having Ross in one of his classes. “She did that 10 years ahead of the Information Science and Technology academic minor, which was created to help students like Bonnie blend programs in journalism and media communication, computer science, computer information systems, business and psychology. She was well ahead of her time.”

Between the IBM internship and CSU education, Ross says she was well-prepared.

“Coming out of that overall experience, I felt very technically ready,”

she explains. “I definitely felt I could hold my own, and that was critical to moving through the company at Microsoft. The skill set I had helped me move up the ladder in program management.”

Fittingly, her first job in games was as producer of an early basketball game for the PC. She predicts that technical experience, more than gender, will make the difference in who gets jobs in the industry in the coming decade.

“I believe, in the next five to 10 years, it’s not going to matter who you are,” Ross says. “If you don’t have a technical background, you won’t go far.”

Advice for parents

Now, she has two kids of her own, ages 8 and 9. She says that as a parent, she limits her older child to the mobile Halo games and a sneak peek at the new Halo 5: Guardians, which are rated for teens. She acknowledges that parents need to make the right decision for their children — but if their kids play games, her advice is to join them.

“Your kids are going to play games,” Ross says. “I highly recommend playing with them and talking about it, navigating that experience with them. A lot of the time you get them talking. They’ll open up as they’re playing.”

Her chosen field ended up being an ideal combination of her interests.

Ross says she enjoys the artistic side, like using various light sources from different angles to develop Halo 5: Guardians, which was released in October.

“To blend art and science, that’s my sweet spot,” she says. “I love how technology is bringing the arts to life. With gaming, I found my place. I found my passion of technology melding with art.”

And Ross credits her staff with the fact that she was the focus of the lead story in Bloomberg Businessweek on Oct. 22.

“I got the cover, but it’s a team of 600 amazingly talented people,” she says. “It’s not me.”

Luft reached out to Ross once he saw the Bloomberg piece.

"When I saw the article and connected Bonnie as a student in my broadcast news class during my first year at CSU, I cringed,” he says. “That sticks in my mind as the single worst class I ever taught, so I felt compelled to send her a note to congratulate her for her success despite the class. She was very gracious, so she either has a bad memory, or is a consummate professional. I’d bet on the latter."


WWE 2K18 Gravatar   Website 06 23,2017 (06:39)
WWE 2K18 Game Yes No WWE 2K18 is going to be awesome. I can't wait to see the 2K Showcase being brought back. I hope the makers don't exclude it this time. And the Kurt Angle rumor needs to be addressed right now!  
  Edit comment Delete comment Unpublish comment
paper writing service Gravatar   Website 07 03,2017 (03:58)
Educational Yes No I respect working womens and here i can read about working womens in all over the world. Their participation is really important for business process & setup.  
  Edit comment Delete comment Unpublish comment
Sadiya Gravatar   Website 07 09,2017 (21:44)
cheap escorts in delhi Yes No I have found this article Very Unique this thank you so much.  
  Edit comment Delete comment Unpublish comment
kingroot for android Gravatar   Website 08 12,2017 (03:15)
Yes No It seems to Root your device has become more important because when you take your phone out of the box  
  Edit comment Delete comment Unpublish comment
Samsung Galaxy S9 Gravatar   Website 08 18,2017 (00:08)
Samsung Galaxy S9 Yes No I think this is what you've been waiting for Samsung Galaxy S9 Check out the Price  
  Edit comment Delete comment Unpublish comment
Fildo2.1.5 Gravatar   Website 08 26,2017 (05:55)
Fildo2.1.5 Yes No good offline setting: Tap the major menu button, after that toggle Fildo Music App chance that you currently recognize how to download nice.
<a href="https://fildoappdownloa d.com/">Fildo2.1.5</a>
  Edit comment Delete comment Unpublish comment
aptoide for ios Gravatar   Website 08 26,2017 (05:56)
aptoide for ios Yes No
rather than paying for it through Google store. We have Download Aptoide APK produced a terrific alternative app which serves the iOS users
<a href="http://aptoideappdownl oad.com/2016/06/aptoid-apk-download-for-ios-and-mac.html">aptoide for ios</a>
  Edit comment Delete comment Unpublish comment
Quickbooks Customer Support Phone Number Gravatar   Website 09 04,2017 (22:51)
Quickbooks Customer Support Phone Number Yes No http://www.quickbooksaccountingsolution.com/  
  Edit comment Delete comment Unpublish comment
Quickbooks Customer Support Phone Number Gravatar   Website 09 04,2017 (23:21)
Quickbooks Customer Support Phone Number Yes No http://www.quickbooks.technical-supportnumber.com/  
  Edit comment Delete comment Unpublish comment
Quicken Technical Support Phone Number Gravatar   Website 09 04,2017 (23:56)
Quicken Technical Support Phone Number Yes No http://www.quickenaccountingsolution.com/  
  Edit comment Delete comment Unpublish comment
Hide comment form Hide comment form
  • Bold
  • Italic
  • Underline
  • Stroke
  • Quote
  • Ordered List Unordered List
  • Smileys
  • :confused:
  • :cool:
  • :cry:
  • :laugh:
  • :lol:
  • :normal:
  • :blush:
  • :rolleyes:
  • :sad:
  • :shocked:
  • :sick:
  • :sleeping:
  • :smile:
  • :surprised:
  • :tongue:
  • :unsure:
  • :whistle:
  • :wink:

Add Your Voice

Submit an article to our online magazine and website.

Add your event to our Job Fair Calendar

Upload a job posting to our Career Search Engine

Find Jobs

The companies seen here are specifically hiring people with your talents, background, and skills.

Check out our job postings and list of participating employers to find your perfect career today.

Become a Partner

If you'd like to advertise with Women In Business & Industry, and to learn more about the benefits of equal opportunity recruiting, visit EqualityMagazines.com

Our Diversity Family