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#MeetIronGalaxy – Eli Montoya, Recruiter

10/08/2021   •   Written By Keenan Moralicz

At Iron Galaxy, our HR Team sees to it personally that everyone who works for our company has a great experience. This is our chance to introduce you to the people who help to make our company an awesome place to work.

Today, we’re talking to Eli Montoya, one of our Chicago teammates who works in the HR Department. Eli has been on a mission to find new people to join our team since earlier this year.

Iron Galaxy: Who are you and what would you say you do here at Iron Galaxy?

Eli Montoya: Hi, I’m Elijah, aka Eli, aka Boo-Boos (that’s what my momma calls me : ). At IG, I’m an energetic Recruiter that supports applicants and helps our internal teams through the full hiring process.

IG: It’s always great to make new friends. What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

EM: Calling out a specific task or aspect of my role that’s “most challenging” is really tough for me. I’m relentlessly optimistic, so no challenge seems too tall for this team.

So what’s most challenging? Whatever task is right in front of us at any given hour. Then we knock that out and go to the next item on the old to-do list. Then whatever that is becomes the biggest challenge. For me, it’s important to keep it moving and give the task I’m currently doing 110%. Maybe my biggest challenge is finding a challenge?

IG: Sounds like you’re always on top of it and you’ve got a great team to back you up. What is the one skill you learned growing up that you use the most in your role?

EM: As a college-age lad, I had the pleasure of running tech for an improv troupe for around two years. The principle of “Yes And” (accepting what is given, acknowledging it, saying yes to it, and then moving forward with that truth) is foundational for me as a human. “Yes And” has always helped me keep my positive demeanor in all aspects of life.

That principal is an easy call out but the unintentional benefit of that tech gig, as a theater kid myself, was instilling in me a love for team wins. I was the person on stage, starring under the lights for so long, but with the improv group, my main mission was to help them shine. Ending a vesper scene on a big laugh, nailing music cues, creating an atmosphere, matching our lighting to the action on stage. It’s mostly unseen work, but I grew to love contributing behind the scenes even in the smallest ways. That work made me realize that no job is too small in production and I carried that lesson with me to every other stop on my journey.

IG: What has been your proudest moment as a member of the Iron Galaxy team?

EM: It’s a tie! I have co-proudest moments. First is our company sponsoring Latinx in Gaming’s job fair back in June. That event led to a hire and many people helped to make it happen. Even just participating was a loud signal to me from the company, that they have my team’s back. We don’t just check a diversity box here. We mean it and we know there’s more work to do. Leadership supports the HR team’s diversity dreams and actually puts their money where their mouth is. Not to sound like a full-on advertisement here, but as a Mexican-American, it’s a goal for me to create more space in gaming for all underrepresented groups. It makes me very proud that I work for a studio that supports and encourages that aspiration.

Second, on a more personal level, getting recognized for my work and being given a path to continually grow my career is really fulfilling. I’ve worked in entertainment, for comic conventions, insurance, and retail in the past. As cheesy as it sounds, IG is the first company to really go out of its way to show me how I’m valued on this team. I didn’t have to plead for recognition. Iron Galaxy didn’t wait until some imaginary threshold was met. The company recognized the effort and quickly showed me it believes in me; that really means a lot. *cries like I’m watching the first 15 minutes of UP or the end of Coco.

IG: Like that support you receive from IG, we’re also glad that you’re on board helping us with your vested interest in representation. If you could give someone who wanted to follow in your career footsteps one piece of advice, what would it be?

EM: It will take a lot of work, you might not make it, but you’ll never know unless you try. Gaming is so vast. There is a place and space for you here. Find the book, take the class, seek the mentor, watch the webinar! There are many resources available to you online FOR FREE.

If you really want a job in games, then you have to invest in yourself. Build slowly, network, and be ready to strike when that shining opportunity comes along. If you have questions, reach out to the recruiters at the place you want to work. You should never be afraid to ask for advice or help.

IG: Great advice. What is the best thing about working at a gaming company?

EM: Talking, living, and breathing games every day. It’s kind of a miracle that any game is made, ever. It’s a Herculean effort to get these things out the door. It’s an honor to support the amazing people at IG that make the magic happen.

We all have geeky interests and talk about games and tv and movies and whatever. It’s like Xavier’s School for the Gifted, we’ve all got a superpower here and we’re coming together as a team to take on the world. It’s really cool to see how much everyone cares even if we’re more laid back, the sheer talent of each person here is amazing. *I’ll understand if you think I’m corny.

IG: What is your favorite perk associated with your job?

EM: Our company meetings. Come for the random impressions, stay for the dank memes.

IG: What does it mean to be Latinx and working in the games industry?

EM: In a word? Everything. When I was growing up, even if no one sat me down and said it to my face, it was understood that assimilating into middle-class America was the unspoken rule for many minorities. When I was younger, I definitely tried to blend in, but as I got older; I became more interested, connected to, and proud of where I come from.

As a person of color in gaming, my cultural background is inseparable from the work we do. Every job post on our careers page starts with the words “Diversity matters at Iron Galaxy” and I strive every single day to fulfill that statement.

IG: That effort shows and is appreciated Eli. What is the Latinx experience like at IG and how is IG celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month?

EM: The experience is wonderful. Our leadership trio champions an inclusive workplace behind the scenes but also has personal skin in the game with their own blogs and social feeds echoing that message. We treat professionals like professionals here at IG. Being Latinx/Mexican American is something I know about me, but no matter your background we are all treated equally at Iron Galaxy.

For Hispanic Heritage Month, Iron Galaxy is sponsoring Latinx in Gaming again (Yay!), this time, we’re providing content for their Twitch telethon. The event is called Unidos Online and it’s streaming on October 15th, 16th, and 17th on their Twitch channel! The event shines a light on Latinx talent in the games industry and we have a lot of that here at IG. Our internal Latinx group has been meeting to plan an exciting video we can’t wait to share with everyone. The collaboration to get the idea off the ground was super energizing for everyone. : )

Come watch our Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration video Friday, 10/15 at 5 PM CST on https://www.twitch.tv/latinxingames

IG: What recruiting efforts are being made to diversify IG’s new hires?

EM: We’ve implemented new tools like Unbiasify (an extension that blurs the names and pictures of candidates), conduct anonymous testing for junior engineers, use word tools in our job posts to have inclusive gender-neutral language, and have an amazing Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access leader here at Iron Galaxy that spends 40 hours a week looking for new avenues to help hire diverse talent.

We also recently supported the Games Devs of Color Expo where one of our engineers spoke. When it comes to diversity, we are open for business. We’ve also met with third-party vendors about new software and tools that can help us in all areas to assure we have equitable hiring. We’re putting in the work and everyone on the team clearly cares.

If you’re reading this go apply RN. Vámonos: https://irongalaxystudios.com/careers

IG: Who are influential Latinx folks in the games industry?

EM: The squad over at Latinx in Gaming is really doing work in these social media streets. I’m specifically inspired by Cris Amaya and Juan Vaca. Those two have been really awesome to collaborate with and I appreciate them. I’m a big fan of the empathy and humor that Andy Cortez from Kinda Funny brings to the gaming space. If I’m talking here at IG, our Head of IT Lupe Nunez is just an absolute damn joy to work with. He really painted a picture for me early on of what an exemplary employee of IG looks like. Big ups to Lupe.

IG: What is your hometown?

EM: I’m from Colorado Springs, Colorado! Colorado is famous for giving birth to Chipotle, having lots of mountains, fresh air, and sunshine. Fun Fact: Parts of Horizon: Zero Dawn are set in and around my hometown. It’s like “Hey, I went to that thing Aloy is climbing around on a 4th-grade field trip!! Now it’s in a robot dinosaur game.” Rad!

IG: Chipotle and nature. What else can anyone need? Aside from playing video games, what is a favorite hobby of yours?

EM: Magic: The Gathering. I went to the Boys and Girls club after class in middle school. A bunch of the older kids would always want to trade their Magic cards for my Pokémon cards. I wanted to be cool with the 8th graders, so I was like “Yeah I’ll take that 6/6 Worm or Shiv Dragon card for my 1ST EDITION Pokémon stuff... this seems like a fair trade!” Clearly 6th grade me was a little idiot, so they fully hoodwinked me.

On the plus side, their grift fostered in me a lifelong obsession with MTG collecting. I recently sold my car and that’s when I found out I have at least three commander decks that are valued much higher than my old car was worth at CarMax. So at that point, I said to myself, “Buddy, your life’s trending in the right direction”. Lolz.

IG: What a rollercoaster of card experiences. What is something you have always wanted to create?

EM: A punny cooking adventure in the style of Paper Mario/Super Mario RPG/OG Final Fantasy.

BTW those enemies are a “Pie-thon” and some Flour Bags.

IG: If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

EM: Chastise me for being cliche here but it’s tacos. They’re my life, and they’re my wife.

IG: Chastise? Tacos? We could never. In fact, what are your favorite tacos?

EM: Al pastor tacos with pineapple and anything with cotija cheese. My favorite spots are North County Tacos in Denver and Bartaco in Connecticut.

IG: What is your favorite travel destination that you have visited?

EM: Hawaii, mainly for the food. This would have been the 2nd place answer to the food question. Short ribs, kalua pork, spam musubi. Basically, you can bury me in any and all barbeque beef.

IG: You are connoisseur of the finest meats. What is one genre of games that you think is underrated?

EM: Active Battle/Action Timing RPGs - things like Ikenfell and the first two Paper Marios. My favorite game of all time is Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. I didn’t have a SNES growing up, but I would watch my cousins play on weekends or play their systems when they weren’t home, and when I stayed with them over the summer.

As a joke, the cousins kept erasing my save file on Mario RPG and I’d come back weekend after weekend to start over. Over the weeks I’d get a little faster, see more bits of the game, and pseudo speed run it some 15 years before I even knew that was a thing. I didn’t beat it till years later but trying again and again for just a frame more made that game an irreplaceable part of my childhood.

IG: Erasing your save file? Ouch! Little did your cousins know they were training you for a career in the games industry. What was the last concert you saw?

EM: Childish Gambino at the Pepsi Center. It was so moovy and groovy!

IG: What game have you spent the most time playing?

EM: Destiny 2 and Halo Multiplayer. Specifically, Big Team Battle and Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise.

IG: What movie have you seen the most times?

EM: It’s a tie between The Princess Bride, Catch Me If You Can, and various Star Wars films.

IG: Your preference in movies may explain your keen ability to exceed previous run-throughs in Super Mario RPG and conquer tough feats. What has been your favorite series binge?

EM: LOST, The Wire, Mad Men, Friday Night Lights, and Game of Thrones.

IG: You get one wish. You can’t wish for more wishes. What do you wish for?

EM: I’d wish that Hogwarts was real and I was a wizard with the quickness. C’mon that’s easy money.

IG: That’s two wishes but… we’ll let it slide this time! What fictional universe would you choose over our own? What if there was no coming back?

EM: Pokémon’s world is the only answer here. It seems like a lawless and cute-filled kingdom. What is the economy in that world? Idk 10-year old kid…? Go throw these balls at some birds. All the jobs there seem made up or just done by the Pokémon. There’s some random guy in a hard hat chilling while a Geodude puts in the real Werk.

I want to go to that world because I need answers. The Pokémon universe is too wild.

IG: If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you invite?

EM: Shea Serrano would tell you that he’s “just a Mexican with an internet connection”, but to me he’s endlessly inspiring. I love his writings about pop culture, movies, basketball, and other sports. I have all his books proudly displayed on my shelf. He’s funny, philanthropic, and a really proud father/husband over on Twitter dot com. I look up to him in every sense.

IG: Thanks for letting us interview you, Eli! We appreciate the hard work you put in towards recruiting IG’s finest. Any last words you'd like to share to the folks thinking about applying to IG?

EM: In closing, I’d say we’d love to have you join the amazing team at Iron Galaxy and you can reach out to me on LinkedIn (Elijah Montoya) or email me at emontoya@irongalaxystudios.com.

It’s my job to help you get hired, let's make it happen! : )

We're constantly growing, and we're looking for people with varied experiences to join our team. If you want to work with a group of fantastic individuals making great things, view our career page and see if there is a fit for you. We’re even looking for more HR Team members to work closely with Eli in finding new talent to come work with us in this awesome space.