Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month - meet Aya, Aaron and Rosalind

Three more amazing people working at Square Enix share their thoughts on their careers, favorite games and what their Asian heritage means to them.
By Square Enix Team

Each week in May, we’re highlighting some of the amazing people with Asian heritage who make Square Enix the amazing company it is - not just in the US, but all over the world.

This week, we turn the spotlight onto three incredibly talented people who work is very different parts of the industry. They spoke to us about their careers so far, the challenges they’ve encountered and what their heritage means to them.

Aya Montoya, Senior Community Relations Representative

Hi Aya, You had a pretty interesting route into your role at Square Enix, right?

This journey was quite the experience! I used to be a full-time partnered broadcaster on Twitch and I wanted to use my channel to showcase some FINAL FANTASY XI and FINAL FANTASY XIV Online content.

I already had some passionate ideas about what I wanted to share with my audience, and this led me to the position I have today at Square Enix, working with a team to help put on great shows monthly.

I couldn’t have gotten this far without the many people who pushed me to enhance my craft.

What do you like most about working with Square Enix?

I am very grateful to be able to contribute to our FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Fan Festivals. These events are probably the most challenging and the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

Seeing so many people gather for one central focus that brings and holds us together is really something special.

What advice would you give to someone trying to break into a similar role to yours?

The number one piece of advice I have is… talk to people! Whether it’s online or offline, fostering a community and networking to make individual connections is a lot of what this job entails.

A strong bond between you and your community are what makes everything work and even become much greater.

What does your Asian heritage mean to you?

My Asian heritage means the world to me! My Filipino background has taught me to treat everyone I’m fortunate to become close with as family.

These lessons in fostering strong bonds have encouraged me to make amazing friendships here at Square Enix and I’ve even been able to a few people I’ve looked up to within the industry for a long time.

What’s your favourite game of all time (not necessarily Square Enix) and why?

I gotta give the title of ‘favorite game’ to FINAL FANTASY XI. Without my experiences in the world of Vana’diel, I honestly don’t think I’d be the person I am today.

Also, Brave Fencer Musashi is also up there along with FINAL FANTASY XI!

Aaron Pathammavong, Associate Manager, CRM Marketing

Hi Aaron. How did you come to join Square Enix?

My professional career has had some twists and turns. I’ve moved across the country from Florida to California, changed my professional focus from print design to web design and digital design for customer relationship management, and even changed whole industries - from music to games!

Each step of this journey served as a learning opportunity for what I’m doing today at Square Enix. Much of my design and marketing sensibilities came from the time that I spent working on marketing campaigns for bands and performers such as Linkin Park, Eminem, Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, The 1975, Chvrches and Sigur Ros.

Those experiences, combined with my lifelong passion for games, prepared me for doing my best work in CRM for a company that I’ve been a lifelong fan of.

What do you like most about your role?

With any creative project, the main challenge is being able to deliver a product that pleases a game's stakeholders, myself and our fans.

Each project serves as an opportunity to find that middle ground, which keeps me fueled with excitement each day. Nothing beats the feeling of seeing our fans show appreciation for newsletter campaigns that I worked on with my team.

There are always challenges, but I try my best to take them head-on, always with the interest of fans in mind.

What advice would you give to someone interested in working in games?

I’ve heard people dismiss working in this sector because they don’t know how to code or design. But you don’t have to be a game developer in order to work in the games industry!

From my experience, a lot of the things you learn from other industries and jobs can be applicable. My biggest piece of advice is to find a career that you’re passionate about first, and then see if that role is offered at a games publisher or studio.

Also, get out there and network at gaming events (once they're back up and running). You never know what opportunities can present themselves if you put yourself in the right environment.

What does your Asian heritage mean to you?

I love knowing that Laos has an incredibly rich history going back thousands of years, and when possible, I love taking the time to learn more about it.

Growing up around a Laotian family taught me a lot of valuable lessons. I’ve been so fortunate to have such a strong family. They immigrated from Laos during a time when the political tension was high, and the country was going through major changes.

Imagine leaving everything behind, with only the clothes on your body, and what amounts to 100 US Dollars in your pocket to support a family of 10. Then starting life all over once you get to the United States.

The phrase “where there’s a will, there’s a way” is literally the story of my family.

Finally, what’s your favorite game of all time?

I remember very vividly the first time I played the original KINGDOM HEARTS on PlayStation 2. The concept seemed so alien on paper, but it made perfect sense once I played it. Disney was such a foundational part of my childhood, and FINAL FANTASY captivated me as I was entering my teens.

My thirteen-year-old self would be shocked to know that he'd eventually work at the very place that makes it.

Rosalind Yau, Development Lead QA at Eidos-Montreal

Hi Rosalind. How did your career lead you to Square Enix?

My journey wasn’t very glamorous at first. I left university because school wasn’t for me - I felt bad because I was always told that I needed a degree to succeed in life.

My first job was an outsource functionality game tester . Eventually an opportunity came at the same company to work as an outsource compliance game tester. From there, other opportunities came, and I worked at two other big studios for many years as a compliance tester until I landed this job.

It was a bit destabilizing at first because I was doing compliance for so many years and I never worked in pre-production, but the concept was similar, and I also have a nice team who guided me.

What are the things you like most about your current role?

My role allows me to be a mentor and provide a safe space for people to work in.

Personal growth and mental health are very important for me and I wish all my colleagues to have the same benefits I do.

There are certainly a lot of challenges during my career too, but rather seeing them as bad experiences, I see them more as puzzles that you can resolve. You then get to add a new tool into your toolbox for the next challenge!

What advice would you give someone aspiring to break into the games industry?

Stay true to yourself, don’t be afraid to be curious and take any opportunities you can. Learn something new every day because there are abundant of free resources online.

This is a big industry - you will find a company with a work environment that you will be happy with.

What does your Asian heritage mean to you?

As a queer Asian, it means that I can help others that may also be of minorities in the workplace.

My experience of life as a minority allows me to understand and extend a helping hand to those who have struggled, or are still struggling, in a world where they have trouble fitting in or feeling part of.

Finally, what’s your favorite game of all time?

I would say the Disgaea series because the characters are diverse, and the gameplay is engaging. Plus, the stories are nonsensical but also fun.

I am also excited for Life is Strange: True Colors because not only do I love the Life is Strange series, the third instalment features a queer and not typical looking Asian woman. I feel represented.

Many thanks to Aya, Aaron and Rosalind for sharing their thoughts and experiences of working at Square Enix, and the games industry as a whole.

Join us on the Square Enix Blog next week for more spotlights, and if you’re interested in working with us (we’re all very nice - honest!), make sure you check our careers pages for current opportunities.