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Why Rakuten? Taka Interview

Creating my own dreams within Rakuten

I joined Rakuten only about six months ago, but I had been working for a similar sort of business to Rakuten Travel here in Tokyo, managing the Asia-Pacific business. I was attracted to work here because not only I am a great fan of CEO Hiroshi Mikitani, what attracted me was his passion and strong vision toward achieving his targets. He has a dream, to make the best service in the world, and he's very aggressive when it comes to targets.

That matched my views as well, and I really don't want to find myself working in an environment where there are no cultures of aiming for success or achievements, or aiming at being a world-class service.

Regarding my career path, when I talked to Mr. Mikitani, I felt it would be a wonderful opportunity for me to build on the fifteen years of Rakuten Travel's experience, adding my own knowledge and experience to enable this business unit to compete on a global level, as well as creating new services on a global scale for customers around the world.

Speed! Speed! Speed!

When I came to Rakuten from my previous company, I felt that I would be able to introduce a culture of "speed wins" - which was the motto where I had just been working. I hoped that I would be able to not only strengthen the technical system and their approach, but also implement some of the culture of speed.

As it turned out, after I had joined, I discovered that Rakuten was already speedy - at times even speedier than my previous employers when it came to making decisions and changes. It's not just a paper myth; Rakuten really is very flexible when it comes to changes and implementing new ideas.

If I want to get my ideas implemented, there is really no barriers to propose changes and criticizing current methods. As long as I know what I am talking about and I have a plan of action, no-one's going to blame me for criticizing the current system. Constructive feedback is welcome, as long as it is constructive, and it's possible for me to access the top level of management if needed, but it's not always necessary.

What Rakuten can give to an MBA – and what an MBA can give to Rakuten

If you have the aspiration to manage a small business team, Rakuten can give you that opportunity. The great thing about Rakuten is that there are many individual business units inside the company. Recent MBA grads are given small business units, and it’s a chance to grow and expand. There are many people like me, with responsibilities outside their current experience, and you will have the chance to meet them and learn from them. And once you’ve grown, there’s the chance to move onto bigger and better things.

If you want to achieve big things, Rakuten is a great place to work. It’s an easy life being surrounded by “small dreamers”, but working with the “big dreamers” allows you to keep your own big dreams. Yes, there’s pressure sometimes, but if you see it a great chance to grow yourself, even with the risk of small failures now and again, the opportunities are there, and this attitude comes all the way from the top of the company.

One last point - Rakuten is a great company for teamwork, and it has a great culture in this regard, but if your strengths are in analytics and logic, I believe you can add value to the company through applying these skill sets. MBAs with these particular strengths are still not common within the company, and you can make good use of them here. However, there are many other ways in which your training and your experiences as an MBA can help Rakuten if you decide to come and work here.


Taka gained his MBA from Stanford University. He worked with online travel companies Expedia and TripAdvisor, in the United States and in Japan, before joining Rakuten in March 2013. He currently heads the Rakuten Travel business unit.

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