The ASTRO Gaming office is located in San Francisco, California not far from AT&T Park and is filled with dozens of talented people that have continued to impress me since my first day in the office. Katie Simmons, with an unrivaled love of Beyoncé, is our International Marketing Coordinator, who helps keep all our out-of-country partners up on what we’re doing and our goals here at HQ.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Katie and talk/joke a little bit about who she is in and outside of work.
Kiri: Would you mind telling us a little about yourself and your position at ASTRO Gaming?
Katie: I am the international marketing coordinator for ASTRO, but when I first got here I was the admin so… I’ve slowly moved up here. It’s almost been a full year at my new position which is really crazy to think about and it will be three years at ASTRO come March. I pretty much help Walter [Director of International Marketing] in whatever he needs—I’m his go-to gal. Mostly just dealing with International partners and making sure they’re happy. I’m basically a partner liaison–and we are in several different countries across Europe, soon Asia and Australia and Canada… it’s a lot of people to coordinate with!
Kiri: What exactly does a Partner liaison do on an average day?
Katie: Uh… an average day?
Kiri: There really isn’t such a thing for you as an ‘average day’ is there?
Katie: No, it’s really not. It’s like… putting out fires like any which way. Fielding emails. Asset requests, so I work a lot with Kylie Jo in terms of that. Making sure our brand stays solid across the globe is a big part of that. It can deal with events, creating assets for events, sending promo product for that, making sure that our presence in stores is on point… It’s a wide array of things. Mostly just answer emails and checking in with everyone. Walter and I have a monthly check in with each and every one of our partners so that’s about 10 or so early calls a month.
Kiri: Working with different time zones is always fun…
Katie: Ha, yeah… it’s really interesting, I feel like I’m learning about all these different pockets of cultures. All these differences to be celebrated.
Kiri: Are you originally from the San Francisco area?
Katie: No, I am from Southern California, San Diego—Carlsbad, to be very specific. I’m from the Lego Land Carlsbad. That was my first job actually.
Kiri: Did ASTRO bring you up here?
Katie: No, my ASTRO story starts… So one of my best friends from college actually works at ASTRO Studios. She came to that job through a temp agency. I went to college in Santa Clara, South Bay, and we moved up here a few months after graduating. I was crashing on her couch, working at some super techy PR firm and really needing a new opportunity. She worked at ASTRO Studios and was the admin there, and she was like, “You know ASTRO Gaming will be moving out of our building soon and they’re going to need an admin.” I interviewed with Bella [Product/Lifestyle Marketing Manager] and Melissa [Product Development/Operations Product Manager] and as I was leaving that day, Bella grabbed my hand and goes, “We really like you, we’re gonna chose you” in her typical Bella way. And my friend Clare—who still works at ASTRO Studios… our friends still don’t know the difference between our jobs. They think we both work at the same ASTRO and not that they’re completely different companies. One day they’ll learn.
Kiri: Are you known for anything around the office that’s not work related?
Katie: I think my love of Beyoncé is fairly well known… [laughs] I thought it was a little fun thing between Bella and I, and it… is not.
Kiri: What is your gaming origin story?
Katie: As a kid I… and this was points for Aron when I had my ASTRO interview. I was a really big SEGA fan and, as we all know, Aron worked at SEGA for a really long time. So I was in the Sonic the Hedgehog camp for years and years. I did a lot of Gameboy too. Pokemon and Gameboy.
Kiri: What’s your favorite ASTRO memory?
Katie: I really enjoyed my first holiday party here. I had been at the company probably 9 solid months at that point. But I was still having first experiences with these people. And I didn’t know how the secret Santa thing went down. We had it at 21st Amendment at the upstairs. So it was really cozy. I think that was a big bonding point for everyone with me, because it’s hard when you’re up at the front kinda on an island, you’re really just saying hello to everyone back and front.
Kiri: What is your biggest hope for Gaming or Gaming Culture?
Katie: I think in terms of ASTRO in gaming, it would be great to be able to talk to my friends—a few of them play games, I don’t really have too many gamer friends—but to have them know the name ASTRO, to have that brand recognition, to have it more mainstream would be amazing. And then… I guess in terms of the gaming world. Just seeing women represented better… and treated better would be great. And it’s also terrible to be scared to mention that… Yeah. Fun!
Kiri: What advice would you give someone who wants to do what you do?
Katie: I guess “Be open to opportunities”? When I started at ASTRO… I came from a PR background, I didn’t necessarily want to be the admin, but I saw it as a stepping stone. It was a foot in the door, for sure. I really enjoy the environment here, everyone’s like family. And I’ve realized how important that is. I think some people get their dream job and then they go to the place and… on paper it’s great, or the people are cool but the corporate culture just isn’t there. So even if I wasn’t doing exactly what I wanted to do, I had faith that it would move along. And I made that very clear from the start, and it has, which is great.
Kiri: If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
Katie: Probably just a straight up, “Don’t worry so much.” I think my college, based in Silicon Valley, everyone I knew pre-graduation was like, “I got a job at Facebook, I got a job at Google!” and I’m like… “I’m… going to go to Europe for a bit and then take a road trip and then be living at my parents’ house and figure it out from there.” And that was exciting but also really freaked me out. So I think just having a little bit more faith. You have so much free time right now. Enjoy it.
Kiri: What is your favorite ASTRO product?
Katie: I really enjoyed our ear buds, actually. When I first got here they were still making them. They were great. My dad still uses his, which is rad. And with current products, I really love the A38s. Hands down.
Kiri: What are some of your hobbies? Those fabled things you do when you’re not working?
Katie: Uh, you know… hanging with… my crew. Tearing it up in the streets of San Francisco…
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Katie: No, we’re just a bunch of white girls. It’s not anything intense. I have a few friends who are in bands around town so occasionally we’ll have a jam night. I’m into the voice lesson thing right now. I used to be really musical and almost went to college for that, but then changed routes. And actually studied photography and still take dark room classes occasionally. Taking photos, playing music, singing… Going on hikes around the city. Trying to road trip wherever we can.
Kiri: Ah, on the note of trips, what is your favorite vacation spot?
Katie: That’s a rough one. I am… leaning towards San Diego purely because that’s where my family is and it’s beautiful down there. But… if I were to take a real actual vacation for just pleasure and not for Christmas/family purposes… I would have to say London. I studied abroad there and I went back two years after that and plan to go back this year. I love it. It’s like a clean and nice New York.
Kiri: Best movie of all time, or one that you’ve watched like… excessively.
Katie: The second Godfather has always been a favorite mine… but that’s more like a family thing. It’s not a movie you should grow up watching, it’s kinda inappropriate but it’s just one of those movies that my parents like… I don’t know why but every Christmas we watch it. It’s not one you sit down and feel warm and fuzzy with your family… but we do. They’re just so cinematically… they’re just like “THIS MOVIE IS SO IMPORTANT”. And we’re not Italian, it’s not anything like that, we’re super Irish, it’s just “IT’S SUCH A GOOD MOVIE.”
Kiri: Music that is, to put it succinctly, your jam.
Katie: Beyond Beyoncé?
Kiri: Beyond Beyoncé… I feel like that’s going to be your autobiography.
Katie: Beyond Beyoncé: The Katie Simmons Story. [Laughs] Current jam right now? I feel like I toggle between Childish Gambino or G-Eazy, Shy Girls, that sort of vibe… or just the generic alternative top 100… Like Cage the Elephant, Lord Huron. Anything along the Jeff Buckley sort of line. Without saying the standard, “I like everything!” But… I kinda… do.
Kiri: Speaking of jam, what is your favorite food?
Katie: A tie between avocado and hummus… I’m vegan and I really miss cheese… all the time. So that’s really the closest I can get to it in that sense.
Kiri: What is your favorite kind of brain food? What gets you inspired?
Katie: I would say music. This is… so not creative. There’s a certain playlist on Spotify that’s “For concentration”. And I have one that’s “Emotions” and it’s all this sappy stuff but… it inspires me.
Kiri: I apologize for the cliché nature of this question… but where do you see yourself in ten years?
Katie: [Laughs] Oh god. Someone the other day asked me if I have a five-year plan and I was like… I don’t have a plan for the next year. I mean… ten years… god. I guess I would… maybe be living here. Or maybe LA or San Diego… I don’t really ever see myself leaving California. Doing what? I do not know. With whom? I’m not sure. I mean how do you even know that? I know I’d like to be doing something creative in my job, maybe on the side have some sort of studio. I really like working with my hands, that’s why I love dark room photography so much, it’s kinda like science class. So maybe a dark room of some kind I can chill in on the weekends, that would be rad.
Kiri: What is one piece of electronic equipment you could not live without?
Katie: I don’t want to be that girl… but iPhone, probably. A smart phone. I don’t use the call function, my poor mother. I don’t even have my voicemail set up so people don’t feel the tendency to call me, it’s really bad.
Kiri: What is your passion? What drives you?
Katie: I would say my family. I’m an only child so my parents are like it for me. I do come from a very large family though, my dad’s one of eleven. Which is insane. So I make up for the only-childness in cousins like tenfold. They’re a big motivator and drive in my life.
Kiri: What do you do to better yourself?
Katie: I think… being a 9-5, Monday through Friday, as cool as ASTRO is, it can take a toll on you sometimes. And I think it’s important to get out of that headspace and learn something new. So I guess it’s just making time for things that help my brain in a more creative way. Just keeping that stuff fresh. And I’m lucky to have a group of friends who also thinks that’s important. My roommate plays violin in a band and really nurtures that part of her, my other roommate is obsessed with music and was a college DJ for a long time and is doing a lot with that and is also a writer so… we all have our passions that we collaborate on and work on out of the office. Which… it’s good for mental health. Obviously I workout, I eat healthy, I try to go out and get some sunlight. That other part of your brain that you don’t use at work is so… just for your sanity.
Check back with the blog for more awesome interviews with the ASTRO crew as well as our partners