Meet our Prodigies: Nafis ShaikhProdigy Careers Blog
Meet Nafis Shaikh - Director, Product Management, Math Game. Nafis joined Prodigy in March 2021, and his day-to-day work includes leading and assisting the product development teams in crafting engaging and enjoyable experiences for all of Prodigy’s amazing student players.
Hey Nafis! What led you to this career in product management?
It happened by accident really! My educational background was in business management, and initially I was ready to start a career in banking. But after working a short while as a bank teller while completing my university degree, I quickly realized that it wasn’t for me. A friend then introduced me to the mobile app space, which was the springboard for the rest of my career. When the company I was working at was acquired by the game developer Zynga, I stayed on because they needed people with mobile expertise. After spending a number of years working on the production side of game making, I transitioned to Product where I was able to work on some big games, most notably Words with Friends. Working alongside some of the best product people in games, I was able to learn, refine my expertise and really develop strong frameworks for how games should be built.
What attracted you to working at Prodigy?
I learned a huge amount at Zynga and built up many skills. But I knew that I wanted to be at a company with a strong mission which was focused on adding social value. Prodigy ticked that box immediately. That’s the reason a lot of us join Prodigy. I know the work I’m doing meaningfully helps kids learn math.
What makes working at Prodigy special?
The social benefit is there and it’s the purpose of why we do what we do. That’s our mission—to help every student in the world love learning. But there’s also an opportunity to do something really great in this space. There’s no other organization operating at the intersection of exceptional games and exceptional educational content. Some products skew more educational, but are just much less fun to play. We aspire to excel at that intersection. We know if we can hit that, it’s a winner for our players, educators and parents. Delivering fun is at the heart of what we do. If we’re able to do that and help kids learn as a result, then we’re winning.
What part of your job is most rewarding?
For me, it's about the realization that what we create has the potential to spark a lifelong love for learning, especially in subjects like Math and English. Crafting engaging games where the learning seamlessly happens, almost sneakily, is what excites me. Back in the day, I'd trade my recess for hours in the library, engrossed in "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego." Little did I know, those gaming afternoons would shape my adult fascination with geography, flags, maps, and quirky city facts. It dawned on me recently that my love for these things sprouted from those innocent video game sessions where learning was happening without me even realizing it. That's where Prodigy comes in. If we can create an enjoyable gaming experience for kids, weaving in math learning along the way, perhaps we can gift them with stories like mine— stories where math is associated with nothing but fun and joy.
What advice would you give to someone considering joining Prodigy?
People should know that we are a game studio. If you love building games and that’s something that’s important to you, and you want to use your skills for a more socially beneficial reason, this is absolutely the place to be. There are very few companies who build socially beneficial games and are willing to do it at an exceptionally high level, we have a strong desire to be the absolute best in the space. We want to get to that space where we can really be the best at operating at the intersection of exceptional games and exceptional educational content. We know we still have work to do —and that never stops. But the desire and organizational support to reach that space is intoxicating.
Interested in a role here at Prodigy? Check out our open positions!