Love What You Do and You’ll Never Work a Day in Your Life
Boys' Division Careers

Year 10 and Year 11 pupils at Bolton School Boys’ Division enjoyed an engaging World of Work session with former pupil Nilesh Thakkar, who is Director of Technical Program Management with Xbox Game Studios.

Nilesh, who left school in 1993, told how he has spent most of his career working in software, particularly in computer games. He said there is more than a little truth in the aphorism ‘love what you do and you will never work a day in your life’. Recalling his school days, he said he liked technology and computer games before the internet came along and remembered how he would spend hours making his own games. Having studied Management Science – Management and Maths - at Leicester, Nilesh explained how he then started work with a consultancy firm. This, he reflected, gave him a good understanding of how businesses are run in industries such as retail, healthcare, manufacturing and film production.

During his seven years of making businesses run better and more profitably, he learnt the benefits of deploying a product called Microsoft Dynamics. Nilesh told how it can help run many parts of a business, including the accounting department, the call centre or even the warehouse. Also, he said, he learnt what made him tick, which is being able to make an impact. Pursuing the buzz of making people’s lives better, he left consulting and joined Microsoft Dynamics as a programme manager in 2005. He went on to change the face of it and to help millions of users in countless businesses. However, he said, after 17 years, he still had a yearning to make games, like he did as a child. This saw him move into the exciting world of making games.

Today Nilesh runs a team of program managers at Team Xbox. His job, he explained, is to make sure studios and their teams deliver on time, on budget and with all the game features that they set out to include. Considering the gaming industry, he said the UK has about 3,000 game companies making either PC games, mobile games or console games and that there are about 140 university courses tailored to game creation. He informed the GCSE students that the industry is worth about £7 billion, which is way higher than the film industry. He also briefly spoke about the wide variety of jobs in the field. Drilling down to some of the detail in his own work, Nilesh talked his audience through the process of making a game from idea to finished product, using Forza Horizon 5 as an example.

The most important skill that somebody looking to work in the industry needs is teamwork, Nilesh said. Also, expertise in a field such as technology, science, maths, art and design, English or music can be beneficial. He concluded his presentation by telling boys to always follow their dreams but to be prepared to change your dreams along the way and to have fun.

Nilesh then answered a wide range of questions including: What’s the most exciting project you’ve worked on? What does the future look like in this industry? Have you been involved in Xbox cloud gaming? Which game did you have the most impact on developing? What would be the best subjects to study at A level and degree level to get into this industry? Are there any games that we should be looking out for? What skills do you look for when recruiting? What can students do now to benefit their CV? What is the most challenging aspect of your role? Will there be a new console released in the near future?

You can watch Nilesh’s talk and hear his answers through this link.

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