Uniting to create a true global strategy
I like to make people happy, and Rakuten has given me the chance to do so. I joined Rakuten some six years ago to head a company that had just been bought by Rakuten. The business of O-net, the largest of its kind in Japan, with 42 branches across the country, is bringing single people together as a marriage agency, and my job was to turn the company around following its bankruptcy and subsequent purchase. By the way, I joined on Valentine’s Day, which I suppose is appropriate. Before O-net, I was the president of a company making high quality golf clubs – that’s another way to make people happy, I suppose!
Since January 2014, I have been assigned to Rakuten Logistics. It’s one of the most important units in the Rakuten business as a whole. Our business model is rather different from that of our competitors who provide the direct delivery to the customers, while we are more in the business of providing services to our merchants and we do not have our own delivery service. So we’re working to being this side of the business up to match our competition, by providing warehousing and delivery services, especially to our smaller merchants, who make up the majority of our merchant partners. We have three regional headquarters for this in the EU, the USA and in Asia (Singapore), each with its own logistic strategy. In the future we will be uniting these services to make a truly global strategy.
Sense of speed and change in Rakuten
I’ve had to adjust to the corporate culture a little, as Mickey has had an influence on me. He can best be described as an ambitious genius, in the best possible sense of the words, and he influences us all. As long as I can keep all our stakeholders happy, I feel I’m doing my job. But there is definitely a sense of speed and change within Rakuten, and we’re going up against Internet giants, so we need to have a comparable growth rate in order to be able to compete against them.
Real message to MBA
As far as MBA thinking of joining us in mid-career are concerned, I would like to point out a few things about Rakuten that really make a difference and make it a good place to work for anyone who is willing and able to share the Rakuten mission of empowerment, which has been a core part of the company since its inception 17 years ago. First, Rakuten has a wonderful global network, including ties to Silicon Valley, to keep you up to date with market trends and developments in the technical world, in a different way to that you will get from an IT company. Then there’s Mickey himself, and having a close relationship with one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs has to be an inspiration. There’s a great working environment here at Rakuten. There’s also the chance for responsibility and accountability. We have more than 40 business units here, in many different countries, so there are lots of opportunities there to grow your own business within a larger organization.