2021 is off to a great start for the Ubisoft Québec team with the arrival of Nathalie Bouchard as Managing Director. The Lévisienne takes the reins of a studio that has the wind in its sails, while the team of more than 500 talents recently launched Immortals Fenyx Rising™, a brand new gaming experience entirely designed, created and developed here. We asked her a few questions so you can learn more about her, her background and her vision!

Nathalie, can you tell us more about your background?

NB : Of course! I am originally from Lévis where I spent my entire childhood. My family and many of my friends are still in the Quebec City area. After completing my bachelor’s degree in Industrial Relations at Laval University, I moved to Montreal, where I have been living and working for over 25 years now. I am also the mother of a young man of 21 years old as well as the step-mother of a 29 years old girl.

I’ve been in the management world for several years, if not decades now. I’ve always liked to learn, which is why I decided to do my MBA about 10 years ago at Concordia University. Finally, I spent the last years of my professional life at Cirque du Soleil where I was the General Manager of the Costume Shop and Artistic Services.

On a more personal level, how would you describe yourself?

NB: I would describe myself first and foremost as a simple woman. Whenever I have some free time, I love to read, transform old furniture, cook and spend quality time with family and friends, before the pandemic of course (laughs). I love to move and play sports, and I always have. When I was younger, I played more competitive sports. Now it’s mostly for the fun of moving and keeping fit. I go running, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, etc. I love to be active. In short, I enjoy winter and nature!

Nathalie_Bouchard

How did the managing direction of the Ubisoft Québec studio come your way?

NB: Last fall, a former Cirque du Soleil colleague, who now works for the Quebec City studio, transferred me the job offer to find out if I knew people who had the right job profile. After careful reading, I realized that maybe I could be THE right person. I wasn’t looking for new challenges, but this is the kind of opportunity that makes you think. I often told my husband that one day, I was going to come back to Quebec City, but I wasn’t sure when or how. So, the position of Managing Director of Ubisoft Québec came my way at a good time in my life.

I was intrigued and seduced by the idea of being able to invest myself and collaborate in the studio’s evolution. It was also a golden opportunity to learn and to join a company with an international scope, in full evolution and strong growth.

In your opinion, what is the greatest similarity between Ubisoft and Cirque du Soleil? 

NB: Both organizations are part of the same industry (entertainment) and are inhabited by an exceptional commitment and an extremely strong passion that drives the company. The success of Ubisoft and Cirque du Soleil also rests on the same asset: the talent of their teams.  They also navigate creative universes, and both have an international presence.

How is your arrival so far?

NB: It’s going really well! I’m surrounded by wonderful, passionate and generous people who make my integration easier. It’s really precious. I can see that making video games is a demanding process, but what I feel most of all is a communicative passion and a desire to share.

The only worry I had, to be honest, was to make a remote entry from home. I was thinking that it would not be optimal not to be at the studio in person. Strangely, I have to say that it did bring benefits in the end (laughs). It gives me the opportunity to be more focused. I take the meetings one by one and I don’t have any distractions. I can really focus on people. Of course, I’m looking forward to the excitement of the studio, but I see the bright side. I assimilate a LOT of information and I sleep VERY well at night. ?

Did you have an interest in the video game industry before or is it new to you?

NB: I have to admit that it’s an industry I was less familiar with. Through my very rigorous and demanding selection process that lasted several weeks, I did my homework. I read, snooped and searched to better understand what I was getting into. I discovered fascinating facets of this industry and more similarities than I had imagined with my previous job. I tell myself that I ran a costume workshop at Cirque du Soleil for three years and didn’t know how to sew a button (laughs), so I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to have studied programming or animation to run a video game studio!

In my opinion, it’s to my advantage to come from another field than video games. At Ubisoft, I find challenges and questions that I have already seen and experienced before. I come with my experience in executive management and my passion for people. I meet experts, talented people who know production at their fingertips. So, there is a clear line for me. Their presence is essential to allow me to focus on my new responsibilities.

What is your vision for the future of the Quebec City studio?

NB: My vision is that we can put in place all the systems, all the tools, have the best ideas and ways of doing things, but at the end of the day what is fundamental is the people who make up our organization. How we mobilize our world to make a real difference. And that’s my strength. That’s what I have to offer.

I want to continue the work that had been superbly started in the last few years to put the human being back at the centre of the organization. If we can build on our strong culture, make people feel happy and involved, then we’ll have the best gaming experiences in the industry. I don’t want to sweep away everything that’s been done before. I come with a desire to let talented people do what they do best and my job will be to support them,

When I look at the Quebec City studio, I see a well-established studio that has evolved tremendously over the last 15 years. A studio that has made its mark by collaborating on Ubisoft’s flagship franchises and that now runs its own projects with an international reach. A studio that has learned from its ups and downs and that continues to look forward to.

We have a place of choice in our ecosystem and we have exciting projects ahead of us. I’m really excited. I intend to take advantage of these opportunities to grow, move forward and support my teams. In the end, it’s the gang that makes up Ubisoft Québec that will lead the change.

Finally, are you looking forward to coming back to the Quebec region?

NB: I can tell you that my mother is very excited about it! ? I am already looking forward to receiving my family on a regular basis, on a weekday evening for example, when COVID will be FINALLY behind us. The current situation gives me a little more time to better organize my family life with my children in Montreal, before officially being back in the region very soon. I’m excited to be able to come and work in the Saint-Roch neighbourhood that I love, experience the unique atmosphere of Quebec City and get closer to the beautiful St. Lawrence River. It’s such a privilege to come back home!