Women's Career- Message From Leadership

Interview Rakuten gives you
the chance to rediscover
your potential. Interview

Naho Kono

CMO (Chief Marketing Officer)


A corporate culture that encourages
actively taking initiative as one team

What do you like most about working at Rakuten?

It's hard to express what the appeal is in a single word, but the first word that comes to mind is definitely “people.” Many of our employees are energetic, cheerful and, above all, possess strong convictions. At Rakuten, rather than operating as individuals, our employees sprint towards their goals as one team. I believe at the foundation of that is our corporate philosophy of empowering people and society through innovation. Many of our employees choose Rakuten because our corporate philosophy resonates with them, and I think they all pursue their jobs with a sense of purpose for contributing to society.

At Rakuten, we don’t just give up, even if a task has no precedent or if we fail at something after attempting it once. Rather, we believe there is meaning in doing things exactly because there is no precedent. We continue to engage in trial and error as all of us collectively devise ways to accomplish something, even if we have failed at it once. In other words, we keep on going until we succeed. Our ability to push forward in everything we do is, in my view, exactly what constitutes our corporate culture.

While I think the ability to enjoy one’s work depends on one’s ability to empathize with the vision of the company and how the company treats that person, with Rakuten’s company culture, I find myself going about my job purely thinking “This is fun!” The sense of satisfaction that comes from achieving something alongside the peers that you spend so much time with is definitely irreplaceable.

Flexible assistance programs that support
employees’ individual choices

Tell us about Rakuten’s initiatives that support diversity.

As people go about their lives, they each engage in work amid various circumstances such as their personal lifestyle, their physical well-being and their relationships with their friends and family. At Rakuten, we seek to provide support to our employees in these aspects of life too.

Sometimes things do not go as planned. And work is no exception. Personal events such as marriage or childbirth are often particularly beyond our control. As I progressed through my 30s and 40s, I found my work to be increasingly fulfilling, and I started to think about spending the rest of my life as a single person. Right as I made the decision to spend my future contributions to society through my work, I happened to meet somebody, and ended up experiencing marriage and childbirth after entering my 40s. This placed me on a crossroads in regards to my working style, forcing me to confront the question of whether I wanted to prioritize my work life or my private life. The answer that I arrived at was this: There is no need for me to narrow down my choices to just one. Since I’m interested in doing everything, I’ll just take the best parts of everything I want to do. Thanks to Rakuten’s flexible environment and the myriad of support programs available, I ended up being able to do just that. Today, I go about my work with the view that contributing to society through one’s job eventually links to improving society for our children’s generation.

While this case reflects my own choice and may be considered rare, I returned to work immediately after childbirth leave, taking no childcare leave days. I believed that striking a balance between parenting and work would be better for my overall mental health. My decision to fully utilize Rakuten Golden Kids, our company’s internal daycare center, is what enabled me to successfully realize that choice. Even though I made the decision on my own, it was still a first-time experience for me, and I had some initial anxiety about raising a child while working. To relieve anxiety, you need to talk to someone and seek advice. However, I couldn’t consult with my mother, as she had already passed away, and I couldn’t solve anything by just staying home either. It was then that I visited Rakuten Golden Kids and talked to the childcare workers there, as well as the more-experienced employees who became mothers themselves and left their children in the care of the center while working. Doing so put me at ease, which in turn also helped me gain better mental stability. Thanks to the help of the people around me, family and otherwise, I feel that my childcaring efforts are now on the right track. Naturally, I could have opted for a childcare facility located close to my own home. However, Rakuten Golden Kids also has proper systems in place and serves as a dependable community. I recommend that other Rakuten employees consider it as an option as well.

Supporting employees’ diverse work styles,
free from preconceived gender notions

What do you value in balancing your work life and private life?

I value doing my best in everything while making sure to properly switch on and off between my work life and my private life. Once I step into the company, I enter work mode and make it a point to pour all of my efforts into my job. What I do differently now is that I stop working right at the end of official work hours, head directly to Rakuten Golden Kids to pick up my child, and re-enter mother mode. Just as I thought, I am able to achieve a better balance by having both a work life and a private life, and I am able to effectively pursue both, personally speaking. I believe that maintaining one’s mental health as a mother and enjoying life, in addition to thinking about what I can do for my child, is a stance that is beneficial for my child too. I remember when I was a child, I would see how my mother worked and have more feelings of being impressed with her rather than feelings of loneliness. In the same way, I want to show my own child how I am doing everything I do to the best of my ability.

Rakuten supports the diverse work styles of our individual employees. For that reason, other employees who want to do it all like the way I do, as well as employees who prefer to prioritize a fulfilling home life, can work at Rakuten on their own terms. When women are expected to prioritize home-making or expected to need support strictly because they are female, it feels like women are being forced into preconceived gender roles, which is something I am not fond of. As a company, Rakuten seeks to provide its people with the means to be who they want to be.

With over 70 services, Rakuten offers unique ways
of realizing employees’ career growth

Do you have any personal stories related to your career growth at Rakuten?

The Rakuten Group provides over 70 services. I believe this is a great benefit to our employees’ careers. In my case, I achieved satisfaction in my work at the company where I originally began my career. However, as I wanted to pursue a different category of business as the next step in my career, I decided to enter Rakuten as a mid-career hire. Here at Rakuten, when you want to tackle a new challenge, you have opportunities to be involved in various types of business and work. Every employee at Rakuten has two chances a year to personally declare what they would like to pursue for work based on their own career design. I think the opportunity to discover one’s next stage in their career within our organization or company group is another defining characteristic of Rakuten. Even employees who have yet to discover a business, or type of work, that suits them have a good shot at finding their professional calling by experiencing various kinds of work after joining Rakuten.

I had only done marketing work after first joining Rakuten. However, I had the chance to be involved in creative functions and sales operations as well, which enabled me to discover a new sense of work satisfaction and further expand the possibilities in my career. In addition to effectively performing the duties given to me, I declared the areas that I had an interest in, joined relevant projects, and became involved in those areas through new assignments. In doing so, I was able to gradually establish my own unique set of skills and areas of expertise. Being able to declare the projects that you are interested in pursuing and joining those projects from the kick-off stage is, in my opinion, another great component of Rakuten’s workplace culture. The people who put their hand up to volunteer to do something are often the most passionate team members on the project.

A company that tirelessly
seeks solutions for any situation

Message to those who are considering Rakuten as the next step in their career

I find Rakuten to have a number of attractive qualities, from its unique culture and growth potential, to how it manages KPIs. However, I can imagine that some professionals who are considering making a move to Rakuten have concerns about joining an environment like this.

Rakuten may have grown to a considerable size as a company, but it still continues to evolve. With the assumption that we will keep on growing, we engage in KPI management for all kinds of business-related figures with day-on-day, week-on-week and year-on-year perspectives. To continue growing as we move forward, we must renounce who we were yesterday and set out to do new things. Otherwise, we will not grow. In other words, we must continue to change rather than be satisfied with where we are now. As we also rely on the experiences, sensitivities and opinions of people who will join our organization, we are eager for them to become part of the Rakuten team and bring new approaches to the table. When I first entered Rakuten, I had little confidence in my ability to play an active role in the company. However, my peers unsparingly shared their knowledge and skills with me and accepted the new opinions I had as a newcomer. I think they enjoyed the “chemical reaction’’ that ensued by doing so.

At Rakuten, we tirelessly seek solutions to any situation we encounter, especially when it comes to working towards our goal of having people contribute to society on their own terms. We adopt that stance not only as a company but also as employees of Rakuten. As our employees live their lives, they will no doubt encounter several challenges, and here at Rakuten, we will be able to walk side by side with them as they do.

We look forward to working together with new members as part of the Rakuten team.