working close to
Chief Executive Innovation Office
I received my MBA from INSEAD. After polishing my skills in a global environment, living in seven countries in four years, I got involved in the establishment of a start-up company in Canada, and engaged in cyber security consulting for communications companies. After this, I joined Rakuten and now work in the CEO Strategy and Innovation Office (CEIO) and the Media & Communications Company (MCO).
To challenge myself in new areas in Rakuten's wide range of businesses
I completed my MBA and got involved in establishing a start-up company in Canada. After this, I worked in Malaysia, Sweden and the U.S. as a cyber security consultant before feeling that I had done everything I could in that field.
I wanted to work in a company where I could use the knowledge I had gained in my MBA and my advanced IT skills, and work for a company where I could grow more. It was around the time that I was approached by a headhunter the mention of a headhunter shouldn't be mentioned and got introduced to Rakuten. Rakuten is developing many businesses at once, including e-commerce, mobile and finance, and I was interested in working at the intersection of business innovation and new technologies.
In addition, working closely with management, in particular, really piqued my interest, and I was eager to take on challenges I hadn’t faced before.
Working with both CEIO and MCO, and offering proposals directly to top management
At the moment I have two roles. One is project development in MCO (Media and Commucations Company), and the other is my work as a member of CEIO.
In MCO, I give advice regarding plans for strategic projects. Recently, I have worked on a tool called Chime Meetings, which is a cloud-based communication service that uses web RTC technology for web conferencing directly on browsers.
In CEIO, I can propose plans and opinions directly to Mickey, our CEO, and the rest of Rakuten’s management. I feel passionate about the fact that our opinions affect the company’s future and direction, which is very fulfilling. This environment lets me work with Mickey and other extraordinary business leaders, as well as many new technologies, ultimately helping me to become a better leader.
Finding extraordinary technologies and creating new value
Even if there is extraordinary technology, it does not mean anything if it does not generate value for the business. For me, using technology to improve people’s lifestyles and create new “technological value” is something that is really worth doing.
Before joining Rakuten I worked in several countries, formulating market access strategies, launching SaaS products and creating new services based on wireless electronic technology. Because of this, I am able to see a project as a whole and actively engage with technical departments.
Utilizing my past experiences and the knowledge that I learned during the MBA in Rakuten projects is really exciting. Our goals are not easy to achieve, but I feel even more motivated by the scope of our challenges.
The Appeal of Rakuten
A high-level environment for an MBA holder to thrive in
Rakuten comes up with big ideas and has the capacity to turn these into reality. There aren’t actually that many opportunities to work in innovative fields, even in companies that recruit from the MBA pool. But as soon as I joined Rakuten, I was able to take on high-level work very close to management as a member of CEIO.
On top of this, Rakuten has successfully carried out numerous M&As and provides services to more than 1 billion users across the globe through “Englishnization” (making English a common language). Learning about the strategies in the company like Rakuten which has taken off from the Japanese market and is continuing to grow is invaluable. Each division has staff from all over the world, and everyone - from management to GM level - as well as the teams that manage the projects, really brings it all together. Rakuten Ichiba, Rakuten Travel and the Group's wide range of business fields, including banking and securities, are managed together, and this is the ideal environment to learn about the relationships between each business as well as specific cases.
What is important in my work
Believing in change and boldly moving forwards
It is important to stay “hungry” and not to be afraid of change. So for me, the maxim "believe in change” is paramount.
Rakuten was born from Mickey’s belief in “creating a market through the Internet.” When we are about to launch an innovative project, we sometimes encounter situations where we can’t use regular common sense at all—we can't even rely on our experience. In these cases, we have to be willing to accept changes and play it by ear to overcome uncertainty. Rakuten offers an environment in which MBA holders can fully utilize their skills and play active roles. If you face change, rather than fearing it, change itself can become a driving force to move forwards and can almost certainly lead to your own rapid growth.
*The content of this article is correct as of the date of interview