How This Tech Leader Is Challenging the Gaming Industry’s Gender Gap

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Moonlit Beshimov’s fascination with tech and gaming can be traced back to the halcyon days of her San Francisco childhood. Growing up, she rallied her friends to play computer games. And by the time she entered college, Beshimov had a clear vision of her future.

However, her career path didn’t begin within the tech and gaming industries. In her first professional role, Beshimov worked as an analyst at an economics consulting firm, where her duties included building econometric models to support economics experts in corporate litigations.

“This role set the foundation of analytics for me,” she says. “I learned to understand the world, make sound decisions, and tell stories based on data—all of which are essential skills for a career in tech and gaming.”

Having acquired this valuable knowledge and experience, Beshimov then pivoted to a role at a leading online and mobile games developer, which gave her the chance to directly oversee the performance marketing and launch of well-known social games. Following her tenure there, she joined the team at a global interactive entertainment and mobile-first video game company, taking charge of ad monetization across the organization’s portfolio of mobile games.

“These experiences helped me understand the ins and outs of game development and go-to-market strategy, and how technological innovations give rise to new markets,” Beshimov says.

Today, she’s the Head of Gaming at Google, a leadership role that allows her to fulfill her lifelong passion while collaborating with creative people who share her curiosity and dedication to innovation.

“I love the ecosystem-wide impact and the industry-shaping potential,” she says.

Here, Beshimov shares why Google’s values deeply resonate with her, how she measures personal and professional success, and the importance of uplifting underrepresented voices at work.

What attracted you to Google, and how did you know the company would be a good fit?

I joined Google almost a decade ago and had been following the company’s growth long before. I believed in Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

When I first applied to Google, I’d just read a New York Times article on Google’s research on psychological safety and high-performance teams. This sparked my interest in joining a company that cared about its people, supported the right collaboration and leadership dynamics, and cultivated a culture that encouraged me to bring my authentic self to work. It took me three tries and two rejections over four years before I landed an MBA internship with Google Play.

What are you responsible for as Head of Google for Games? Why does this work excite or inspire you?

I lead cross-Google partnerships in gaming. My team is unique in that it works horizontally across Google’s business units to bring the best products and services to the industry as well as its most important players. I work with product and partnership leaders like Google Play, Ads, YouTube, and Cloud to bring the best of Google to our top gaming partners. I also work with senior decision-makers to understand the gaming market and set and lead global strategy, priorities, and key initiatives in gaming to better serve the industry.

You’ve been at Google for more than eight years and entered the company as a business development manager. What are the keys to your success? What important skills have you developed?

Teamwork: Ideas, strategies, and actions can come from anywhere, and you can’t do it alone. You need to collaborate across teams, functions, regions, and organizations to work together to turn ideas into reality and deliver meaningful impact.

Growth mindset: The gaming and tech industries change so fast—both are cutting-edge pioneers of the latest innovations. To stay relevant, adapt, and thrive, the key is constantly learning new domain knowledge, building new functional skills, and mastering collaboration and leadership with different people who have different working styles.

Dare to do the impossible: Google has a culture of always asking, “How can we 10x this?” Don’t settle for good, go for great. Be empowered to test drive your idea, and then think about how to scale it.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I pride myself in my ability to be these three things: a divergent thinker, a convergent operator, and an influential leader.

My leadership style puts people first, and process and results will follow. When I lead a team, I make sure that each person’s strengths complement each other. I connect seemingly unrelated information and ideas and make timely and sometimes tough decisions. I empower my team to own the outcomes, but I roll up my sleeves to work alongside them. When I collaborate, I focus on empathy, understanding priorities, and how I can help others succeed. I influence by cultivating intrinsic motivations. I deliver by rallying a team toward a common vision and uplifting everyone in the process.

I also volunteer as a career coach, which allows me to help others define and set their own unique and individualized goals, mile markers, and pace.

What’s your biggest accomplishment thus far? How did the company culture enable your success?

When I was a business development manager at Google Play, I founded the in-game subscriptions initiative and scaled it to a multibillion-dollar business. I worked with product managers as well as other business development managers from all over the world, kick-starting an industry shift toward more diversified business models in mobile gaming. I got top gaming companies like Tencent to adopt in-game subscriptions and found that this increased monetization and engagement, with minimal cannibalization. Then I scaled this to the whole industry by providing technical solutions as well as expertise in game design frameworks.

I successfully founded, led, and delivered this because of Google’s culture of autonomy, empowerment, and mission-driven approach. This culture encourages individuals to generate ideas to achieve their team vision, assemble a like-minded core team to run a pilot, iterate based on the outcomes, and then potentially scale it with additional resources and support from leadership.

As a woman in tech, what’s been the biggest challenge of your job thus far? How did you overcome it, and what important lessons did you learn?

Sheryl Sandberg said in Lean In to sit at the table. However, sometimes you have to be invited to take a seat at the table, or even be in the room. It’s no secret that in tech and gaming, women represent roughly only a third of the workforce, and are even more scarce at the senior leadership level. Lack of representation at the top means we can’t only rely on sponsorship and advocacy from other women. Allyship matters.

As an Asian woman in tech and gaming, people tend to peg me as someone more junior and nonessential. Part of my job is interfacing with senior executives of partner companies on behalf of Google. When I did a rotation in China—where rank and gender equally matter in business dealings—my host manager would leverage his social capital and reputation to set me up for success. For example, he always spoke highly of me in my introductions, and deferred to me when partner executives asked challenging questions. We all need an ally and advocate like him.

However, a good sponsor is hard to come by, and also can’t be forced or acquired by networking alone. My advice in finding sponsors is to be good at what you do and always deliver above and beyond. Because when your sponsors advocate for you, remember that they’re also putting their reputation on the line.

Tell us about your involvement within Women in Games International (WIGI). Why did you decide to become a board member?

I’ve been on the board of Women in Games International since 2023. I was initially invited as a commencement speaker for WIGI’s mentorship program. As I became more familiar with WIGI’s mission “to advance economic equality and diversity in the global games industry,” I didn’t hesitate when their president asked me to join as a board member.

How do these types of nonprofits help to advance economic equality and diversity in the global games industry?

What I love about WIGI is that it drives tangible outcomes for women, femme-identifying, and nonbinary professionals who want to join and advance their careers in the gaming industry. Besides the mentorship program, WIGI is also known for its “get in the game” initiative, where mentees receive all-inclusive support to attend leading gaming industry conferences with a focus on impactful networking.

This year at the Game Developer Conference (GDC), I gathered a panel of amazing women working in gaming within Google, hosted a WIGI Breakfast & Learn for the mentees and mentors, and donated 10 GDC passes to the community.

What advice and tips would you give to other women—particularly those who represent marginalized or underrepresented communities—who want to pursue a career in gaming?

I’ll share the mantra that I think about every day. It’s from a book by Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code: “Be brave, not perfect.” I’ll also add, “Use your voice, and amplify others’.”

As a member of underrepresented groups, it means that your voice carries that much more weight and needs to be heard. You never know who in the room was thinking the same thing but didn’t dare to speak out loud. You never know who outside of the room wishes that someone could speak for them during these meetings.

Also, amplify other underrepresented groups to make more of an impact. Repeat their ideas and give them credit by referencing their names. Direct the conversation to them, and set them up for success by calling their name first and asking a question you know they can answer second.

Outside of work, are you a big gamer? What types of games do you tend to play, and why?

Games have always played an important role in my life, and the games I play also have changed over the years. Growing up, I played a lot of SNES games like the Bomberman franchise, Chrono Trigger, and Final Fantasy IV.

When my daughter was born and I was up at all odd hours of the night, I played The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild to find peace within the incredible beauty and scenery of the role-playing game, and Destiny 2, a multiplayer shooter game, to relieve stress.

Of course, I’ve always favored accessible, bite-size but still high-quality, highly engaging, and entertaining mobile games. I’ve probably played all of the top mobile games that launched within the past 10 years.

Now, I play Mario Kart and Tears of the Kingdom with my four-year-old daughter, and Khan Academy Kids with my two-year-old son.

However, my favorite game of all time is Portal. I love solving a good puzzle, and even better, solving it with my husband in co-op mode to practice our communication and collaboration skills!