Francisco Montes has built his life around two bits of wisdom he received from his parents.

“My mom said, ‘Cisco, I don’t care what you do — just be the best at it. You could be the garbage man, just make sure you’re the best garbage man,’” Montes said. “And my dad told me, ‘Continue to learn. Continue to see what else you can do.’”

Heeding that advice has served Montes well as he rose from teller to branch manager in just three years at Academy Bank. The Briargate Boulevard location is one of the institution’s top branches in terms of growth and goals achieved — largely due to Montes’ dedication to serving both his customers and fellow employees, nominator Chris Long said.

Montes is a wonderful example of what a young professional should aspire toward in Colorado Springs, Long said.

“Francisco is focused on making Colorado Springs a better place for everyone by setting an exemplary example of work ethic, community involvement, mentorship and fatherhood,” Long said.

Montes learned all those concepts the hard way. He was only a month old when his parents moved to Columbus, Ohio, from Mexico City. Montes’ father had a bachelor’s degree in computer science, but as few prospective employers would recognize a degree from a Mexican university, he initially worked as a hotel janitor and a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver to support his family.

His father’s job with MCI Communications Corp. brought the Montes family to Colorado Springs in 1996, and Montes graduated from Coronado High School five years later. He attended Hastings College in Nebraska for a year on a soccer scholarship, moving back to Colorado Springs in 2002 after a knee injury forced him to withdraw.

Montes worked in the restaurant industry until 2006, when he applied for every position at every bank he knew of, despite having no previous experience.

“I just wanted to get my voice out there,” Montes said. “I was willing to make a new change.”

After stints with other local banks, Montes landed a job as a teller at Academy Bank in 2011. He was promoted to branch manager three years later.

“Everywhere I went I said, ‘I want to be the best at it,’” Montes said. “I put my focus on continuing to educate people.”

At a colleague’s encouragement, Montes dove headfirst into networking and community involvement after his promotion to branch manager. He has served on boards for the Academy for Advanced and Creative Learning, YMCA Garden Ranch and the PILLAR Institute for Lifelong Learning, as well as a mentor for the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs and an ambassador for the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC.

“My passion has to be continuing education,” Montes said. “That’s something I fell in love with when I became a manager.”

— Erinn Callahan

What advice would you give to your younger self?

“Always try to accomplish two things on the daily. First, learn something new every day. There’s always something to learn. Second is adding value to someone. I’ll go home and the first thing I do is grab one of my children and say, ‘Let’s work on your reading or your math.’”