In this interview, yellowHEAD’s Marina Sapunova speaks with Javier Castro, Head of EMEA Apps Gaming Sales, to find out about the person behind the title, what interests him in life besides work and what brought him to Casual Connect in Kyiv.
Marina: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, Javi. Could you kick things off by sharing with our audience what company you work for and your title?
Javier: For the last 5 years, I’ve been working at Google. I started working at the Google Cloud team and then I moved to the Google apps business. Currently, I am managing a team of colleagues who are working with gaming companies across EMEA, so pretty much working with most of our top gaming companies.
M: What brings you to Casual Connect Kyiv?
J: It’s a great opportunity for me to meet game developers from this area. It is difficult to meet them in London where we normally organize events.
M: That’s nice! Are you a gamer?
J: Yes, I am a gamer!
M: What kind of games do you play?
J: Everything started with strategy games. I used to be a huge fan of Age of Empires, Empires Earth… these were some of my favorites and I spent a lot of time playing them. Also FIFA. And now among the mobile games, I mostly play strategy games: Clash of Clans, of course, Clash Royal as well.
M: Are you going big time on in-app purchases? Do you spend a lot in the game?
J: I try…I try not to. Sometimes I don’t really have much time, so I make some valuable purchases that save me time.
M: You mentioned FIFA. So I assume you are a big football fan, is that true?
J: Yes, I love football just like everyone else in Spain does. I am a Real Madrid supporter. During the last couple of years, the team has been doing great – we’ve been winning La Liga and Champions League. Football is one of my hobbies. I love watching it and I also play. I’ve been playing football since I was 6 years old.
M: You were born and raised in Spain. When did you move?
J: I finished high school at the age of 17 and then I started at University in Madrid. I come from the North part of Spain, from a small city. I moved to Madrid to study computer engineering for 4 years, and 1 of those 4 years I studied in Finland where I did Erasmus (The Erasmus Program is an EU student exchange program established in 1987), which was a great experience. After I got my degree from the university, I moved to Mexico where I worked for the Spanish Embassy for a year. I was supporting Spanish companies who wanted to invest in Mexico; my role was to coordinate meetings between Spanish IT companies and Mexican companies. It was a great experience to see how difficult it is to operate in a different culture. After that, I moved to Dublin to work for Oracle, where I was doing sales for a year and then I started to work at Google.
M: So you moved directly from Mexico to Dublin? Having been born and raised in Spain, then living in Mexico and then Dublin, how was it to adapt to the weather in Ireland?
J: Oh, it was one of the biggest challenges, to be honest. But I come from the north of Spain and what most people don’t know about that part of Spain – they think that, like in most of the country, it is always warm and sunny – but in my city, it could get as low as -10 or -15 degrees during the winter. I don’t know how it is in Kyiv (probably it’s a bit worse), but -10 is pretty cold. And you won’t get this cold in Ireland, because it’s an island – the temperature never gets too high, but it’s also never below 0. I think the main concern I have is the dark – especially during fall and winter, it gets dark very early.
M: Besides football, do you have any other hobbies? Do you play music?
J: I played saxophone for 10 years. When I was a kid, I wasn’t a big fan of it because, like other kids, I just wanted to play football. But my mom said “No, you have to play a musical instrument.” They first picked the violin for me, but the class was full, so I had to go for saxophone. I studied saxophone for 10 years, and I got my degree. Actually, when I finished high school I had to decide whether I wanted to continue playing saxophone or study something else. It was a very tough decision, because at that point I was really enjoying saxophone.
M: So you loved it, didn’t you? You didn’t feel like you were forced into it.
J: I was sort of forced into it in the beginning, but then I started seeing how you can really play, improve and perform. You get a lot of offers to play with orchestras – it was cool. So, I didn’t really know what to choose. But, together with my parents, I decided that I would go for IT. I was good at math and physics in school, so I tried and don’t regret it.
M: Let’s talk about travel. Is there a place where you haven’t gone for work purposes, but you really want to? Maybe some exotic places or something unusual you haven’t been to but really want to.
J: I want to go to Japan. I haven’t been able to go there yet, but I have my plans to go there in spring 2018. Before I worked for a Spanish Embassy in Mexico, I did a masters and there were around 200 people who wanted to work for Spanish embassies all around the world. My idea was to go to Tokyo, Japan, but I didn’t speak Japanese. I even started to learn Japanese for 6 months, but of course I don’t know anything right now – the language is quite complicated. So, Japan is my next destination.
M: So, I have this one last question that I’ve been hearing a lot from girls around the conference: how old are you?
J: [laughs] Guess.
M: Oh no, I’m so bad at guessing. I don’t know, I’d say 30-31.
J: That was close. I’m 32.
M: I was close. Thank you Javi for your time. It was great having you here.
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