GR2When DreamWorks announced the shutdown of its Northern California studio and the layoff of 500 people, one of the few employees chosen to stay on and help close the doors was Nueva alumna Gemma Ross ’00, who was a technical resource supervisor in the IT department. Gemma was selected for her leadership skills and knack for uniting a team to work effectively for a common goal.

Though she studied computer science and animation in college, Gemma credits her Nueva education for developing her soft skills.

“It is one thing to study computer science or to be an engineer and something else entirely to learn how to manage people,” said Gemma. “Nueva always encouraged us to work together and listen to each other.”

The success of Gemma’s leadership was poignantly visible after receiving the news of the shutdown as her team came together in loving support of one another while many other teams scattered or went straight home. On their last day, Gemma’s team had a final goodbye with some of their L.A. counterparts and former team members to commemorate everything they had achieved and built.

“It was clear then that my greatest accomplishment was helping create such a close-knit, supportive, and intelligent team in spite of the fact that we worked all hours of the day and in multiple locations,” Gemma reflected.

That’s saying something, especially considering Gemma worked on 13 different films during her six-year tenure, including How to Train Your Dragon (her first film, which will always hold a special place in her heart) and Penguins of Madagascar (the release of which she celebrated with live penguins at the Cal Academy of Sciences in San Francisco).

The time Gemma spent at DreamWorks was not all smooth sailing. She spent her first two and a half years on the team working the night shift, which for Gemma was two and a half years too long. She also had to navigate the transition from team member to team leader when she was promoted.

“It was quite a change to suddenly realize I was responsible for the career path of multiple people and the future of a whole team instead of just my daily tasks,” said Gemma. “I made several mistakes moving into my leadership role and often left meetings wishing things had played out differently.”

Unsurprisingly, however, Gemma met the challenge head on and ultimately found her stride.

“Like many people, I found that making mistakes was the best way for me to learn and grow. Eventually I earned the trust of my team and peers by not only admitting my mistakes, but proving that I always learned from them.”

After helping close the doors at DreamWorks, Gemma took some time off to relax, travel, and consider where she’d like to take her career next. She is currently planning to continue working with technology but not in the entertainment industry. Though the path ahead is uncharted, Gemma is confident that Nueva has prepared her well for wherever she goes next.

“Nueva helped me tremendously with my soft skills, and I know that these skills will continue to make me successful in whatever my future holds. I have many open doors at the moment, and I am excited for my next step.”

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