Gary Buckley is the Director of Engineering at NaturalMotion’s new studio in Birmingham. He has a diverse background in the programming world which ultimately led him to the opportunity to build on his experience with NaturalMotion. As a new member of the team who joined the company in the midst of the 2020 lockdown and remote working period, Gary expresses that the friendly, welcoming and inclusive nature of the NM culture has made the transition a positive experience. The UK tech landscape is becoming increasingly more competitive but according to Gary, what sets NM apart from the others is the people, the benefits and the projects. NaturalMotion houses an environment in which there are a multitude of growth opportunities. With several large projects in development, these are exciting times accompanied by design and technical challenges which provide opportunities for growth and learning.
Keep on reading to learn more about Gary’s career journey, his perspective on the importance of a positive workplace culture and what he loves most about being a member of the NM family!
What is your role within NM/BA and how did you get here?
Hi, my name is Gary Buckley and I’m the Director of Engineering at NaturalMotion’s new Birmingham Studio. I’m fortunate to have worked with many of the leadership team at the studio in previous roles and when they reached out to me about joining I leapt at the opportunity to be part of building something new with this talented group.
Tell us a bit about your background and how you came to NM/BA
Within programming I have a diverse background, starting with a very brief stint in Telecoms before joining Creature Labs to work on AI and gameplay in their PC games. I’m always looking for the areas that need someone to step into them and in this case, a company full of AI programmers needed a Graphics Programmer. I switched across and that led to me joining Codemasters a few years later to work on their racing game visuals. I spent many years at Codemasters, moving into heading up the tools team and then leading the programming team as a whole for several projects across consoles and PC. The opportunity with NaturalMotion came just as I was wondering what was next and gave me the chance to build on that experience and extend across mobile platforms too.
How would you describe the people within NM/BA?
I’m relatively new to NM so I’ve been going through that stage of joining a team while working remotely and everyone has been friendly and welcoming. The culture of the team is passionate, inclusive and open, which runs through all the levels of staff I’ve met and across the different teams.
Why is a culture like this important to you?
I’ve built my approach to management on honesty and support for my teams. Having a team where people are respected and encouraged to excel is contagious and I believe it’s the best environment for people to get real satisfaction from their work. There is a genuine interest in people’s wellbeing here and striking a positive work/life balance, as well as a focus on creating an environment for people to grow and thrive so we deliver games to wow players and enjoy doing it.
What is your role within the team?
We’re a growing team so we all pitch in but broadly I’m responsible for the technical planning for the features our studio is working on, coordinating with other teams and building up the team so we have happy, motivated engineers.
The UK tech landscape is getting increasingly competitive, why should someone consider a career at NM/BA versus another tech company?
The people, the projects and the benefits. There’s a fantastic team in place; it’s a really supportive group to work with and a chance to work with great people and push yourself. There are several big projects in development which makes for really exciting times with interesting design and technical challenges, giving you the chance to grow. The company has competitive benefits and opportunities for staff to get a stake in the company which makes a real difference in feeling part of the larger organization.
Do you have any mentors or people you look up to within the industry?
I’ve been lucky to work with some excellent engineering leads. Andrew Dennison in particular (who now heads up Unity’s XBox dev team) really inspired me with their combination of technical skills and approach to team building.