Sometimes, working for the wrong company can steer you away from a career path you’re truly passionate about — but hopefully just temporarily.
That was the case for Alyssa Delhotal. After experiencing burnout from several years of working for a AAA gaming company, she made a significant career pivot and took a job helping to run a sculpting business. It wasn’t long before she realized she’d made a mistake — gaming, it turns out, is definitely where her passion lies. Today, she calls this temporary gaming hiatus her “favorite career mistake” — because without it, she might not have landed at Zwift.
Delhotal says that Zwift, known as the world’s biggest digital playground for cyclists and runners, also happens to be full of “some of the nicest, funniest people” she’s ever met. And not long ago, she was granted the added responsibility of managing some of those people via a promotion from tester to Associate QA Manager. So far, she says she’s found “honestly, everything” exciting about the career change.
“Rather than being focused on finding and reporting bugs, I'm helping my direct reports with their career goals, expanding on processes, and revamping our team hierarchy,” Delhotal explained. “The mentors I had early in my career were incredibly encouraging, and I hope to give my reports that same level of support and encouragement.”
Recently, she shared with Fairygodboss what actions she credits with making this career advancement possible, as well as her most memorable piece of career advice.
Tell us a little about your previous role, before you were promoted. What were your responsibilities then vs. now?
Before I was promoted to Associate QA Manager, I was just a regular ol’ tester. I have been in the video game industry for almost 12 years and had a ton of testing and test leadership experience, so I quickly stepped in to become the right hand of the test lead. My general responsibilities included finding and reporting bugs, completing test case sweeps, regression, etc. — normal individual contributor tester stuff.
Now, my responsibilities are so vastly different. It was a bit alarming at first, but I love a challenge. Rather than being focused on finding and reporting bugs, I’m helping my direct reports with their career goals, expanding on processes, and revamping our team hierarchy.
How long have you been in your new role, and what about it excites you most?
It’s been four action-packed months, and honestly, everything is exciting. I think the idea of helping my direct reports with their career goals is really amazing. The mentors I had early in my career were incredibly encouraging, and I hope to give my reports that same level of support and encouragement.
What, specifically, helped lead to this promotion? Can you identify anything you said or did that earmarked you as someone ready for advancement?
I’ve always had a knack for leadership and organization. It was shortly after I started that I began suggesting some minor improvements which turned into bigger improvements which turned into leading the team. I don’t think it was any one thing but more a culmination of all of the gumption I showed. I think it also helped that I was very forthright with my manager. I knew what I wanted and I have a habit of being very blunt. There was no question in my mind of where I was going and how I wanted to get there.
What advice do you have to others in your industry who want to take their career path to the next level?
Never take no for an answer. Always ask why if you’re confronted with a no. There is almost always another direction to take to get where you’re wanting to go. Another bit of advice I love is: “Fail fast so you can learn from your mistakes quickly.” It’s hard not to take failure to heart, but as long as you learn and move on to the next thing, you’ll be okay.
What’s the first and/or last thing you do at work every day?
First thing I do is check Slack to see if there were any requests that came from our other offices or bug reports that popped up overnight. I like to get a leg up on anything that may be coming our way before I head into the office. Last thing I do is check in with the team to see if there’s anything they need or if there’s anything blocking them.
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about your company that you think they should?
Our executive leadership team is comprised of some of the nicest, funniest people I’ve ever met. I think most people at Zwift know this, but some of our newer folks may not yet. Everyone should get to know their leadership team!
What’s your favorite career mistake that you’ve made?
I got burned out pretty hard working in gaming after working for a AAA company for many years and left the industry for a while. Big mistake. I took a job helping run a sculpting business and worked there for a year before realizing gaming is definitely where my passion lies. In my desperate desire to get the heck outta there, I found Zwift! If it wasn’t for that terrible mistake, I would have never found this wonderful place.
What’s the most memorable piece of career advice you’ve received?
“Check off the easy things first.” This seems like common sense now, but at the time I was struggling. One of my mentors gave me this great little bit of advice that completely changed how I look at tackling tasks. Starting with the easy things gives you a sense of accomplishment and motivates you to keep going towards those bigger, more difficult items. Next thing you know, your whole to-do list for the day is complete and you’re feeling great!
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