In conversation with

Polina Changuleva

UK Lead for the Women's Inclusion Network

Polina Changuleva



Polina Changuleva is an award winning Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Consultant and Founder of impact driven consultancy – Same But Different.

Having previously led the Women’s Inclusion Network at Yahoo and worked for some of the world’s biggest brands, Polina is a global media expert and speaker on all things tech, gaming and inclusion.

She is also a winner of Management Today’s 35 under 35 and podcast host of Tap Into Extraordinary podcast helping hundreds of people achieve their goals leveraging the power of accountability and community.

Question and Answer

You worked as a Global Media Specialist for Xbox Advertising. Where do you start in terms of building relationships with gamers?

I think to start with it’s important to address the general misconception that gamers are nerdy teenagers stuck in their parent’s basement playing video games all day. In reality in 2021 there are 2.7 billion gamers worldwide which makes gaming bigger than the music and entertainment industries combined.

When thinking about building your relationships with gamers, I’d say it’s important to understand that gaming is a completely different media channel (whether on console, mobile or Twitch) and you’ll need different tactics and approaches in comparison to other media. That’s the first pitfall where a lot of brands fall short.

At the core of it, gamers are on Xbox or Twitch to be engaged, entertained and feel part of the community so tapping into those experiences is a great place to start.

The female gaming culture is on the rise. How can brands take on the gap in the market in an authentic and honest way?

Leverage female talent. With 50% of gamers in the UK now female, there are a ton of incredible female gamers on the rise that deserve the spotlight. I’ve seen brands dismiss them because of smaller audience numbers, but it’s a vicious circle – when you’re not given the same growth opportunities it’s hard to build a bigger following.

Also consider game titles that have female protagonists. They very often come hand in hand with bigger female audiences too.

If you’re a brand that caters to female audiences, consider gaming! We are starting to see more and more fashion and beauty brands tap into gaming but I still think it’s a huge missed opportunity for any brand that doesn’t take gaming’s potential to reach female audiences seriously.

“With 50% of gamers in the UK now female, there are a ton of incredible female gamers on the rise that deserve the spotlight. I’ve seen brands dismiss them because of smaller audience numbers and it's a vicious circle – when you’re not given the same growth opportunities it's hard to build a bigger following.”

What’s a recent campaign that really resonated with you?

The brands that tend to do great in gaming are the ones that dedicate the time and resources to understand what makes gaming unique (KFC, Pringles, McDonald’s, Red Bull to name a few) and fully grasp the potential and scale of the opportunity.

A great example of a brand partnership I saw recently was Kwik Fit’s alignment with Forza Horizon 5, at a highly anticipated launch at the end of 2021. It just made perfect sense for an auto garage brand to be aligned with one of the world’s biggest racing titles.

They also created a social media extension of the campaign that rewarded users for playing the new game with super cool custom prizing. Those elements make for a well rounded and yet very simplistic starting point for a brand to tap into the world of gaming.

What prompted you to get involved with the Women’s Inclusion Network? And what have you learnt through your work with them?

As someone who has been part of numerous female leadership development programs in the past and as a founder of a Diversity & Inclusion consultancy Same But Different, I was always very aware of and passionate about bridging the gap between genders. When I joined Yahoo a few years ago and was presented with the opportunity to step into a leadership role for the Women’s Inclusion Network in the UK it was a no-brainer, although very much outside of my comfort zone at the time.

I’ve learnt more than I can put into words but mostly that what we’re doing right now isn’t enough. The global gender gap isn’t expected to close for another 136 years – a number that went up by 36 years just in the space of the last two years. The sad reality is that the pandemic affected women disproportionately across all areas of our lives. If anything, women across the globe need more support than ever before to recover the progress we’ve lost.

From your perspective, how can businesses create a more inclusive workforce and culture? Where should they start?

Create safe spaces for people to be themselves and tell their story. Making room for people to bring their stories to the table and share their unique points of view allows us to more openly embrace our differences and celebrate our similarities – the whole reason I created my Diversity & Inclusion consultancy.

Most employees  also crave authenticity, vulnerability and honesty from their leaders and organisations, especially after the last few years. People are less and less interested in the polished “professional” version of you and more interested in what makes you human.

You also have your own podcast. What’s the idea behind Tap Into Extraordinary?

I started the Tap Into Extraordinary podcast in the midst of the pandemic. I was going through one of the busiest periods of my life and just generally managing the unpredictability that the pandemic brought upon us. So I wanted to find others like me feeling lonely in their strife for greatness and create a safe space where we could share our challenges, find solutions and come together weekly to hold each other accountable.

I also wanted to showcase that contrary to what social media is portraying, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to being extraordinary. Being extraordinary is a very personal experience and has a completely different meaning for all of us.

You can give Tap Into Extraordinary a listen on any streaming platform and find us on all social media channels @tapintoextraordinary.

How do you tap into your extraordinary self?

Tapping into my extraordinary self means acting in alignment with my values and vision for the future, while also unapologetically and fearlessly showing up and going the extra mile to make my dreams a reality.

I am super clear on my vision and that allows me to double down on the things that matter to me the most: creating a more equal and inclusive future in which everyone has the space and tools to tap into their version of extraordinary.

The Storylist

Polina's Storylist


  1. Think Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  2. Deep Work by Cal Newport
  3. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
  4. The Double X Economy by Professor Linda Scott
  5. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss


  1. The Daily Stack


  1. Tap Into Extraordinary
  2. The Diary of a CEO
  3. The Brendon Show
  4. Impact Theory
  5. The Conversation of Money
  6. 1619
  7. Code Switch

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