セブに開設した「Sansan Global Development Center」。その第一号社員として現地チームの立ち上げや採用活動に携わるエドワードさんに入社への想いや、やりがいなどを聞きました。全編英語の記事ですが、Sansanのグローバル展開の様子を垣間見ることができますので、ぜひご覧ください。
Sansan Global Development Center, Inc.
Edward joined Sansan in July 2022, to help build the Sansan Global Development Center in Cebu. As Operations Manager, he’s mainly focused on assembling an outstanding team of local talent and ensuring that the working environment and office culture encourage a rewarding and productive future for the members, the Center, and Sansan itself.
Becoming Sansan’s first employee in Cebu
Tell us a bit about your career before you joined Sansan.
I’ve been in the software development industry for 27 years. I started my career as a software developer way back in the COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) days. But over the course of my career as a developer, I’ve been able to experience many technologies up until the early .NET era.
For over 20 years, I was involved with software development projects both R&D- and client-based, where I was able to provide project management and operations management support. This gave me a solid 15 years of IT operations leadership experience (includes strategic planning, business development and people management) directing large functional and technical teams.
How and why did you come to join Sansan?
A former CEO of a company I previously worked at introduced me online to Fujikura-san [Director and CTO of the Sansan Global Development Center], who’s in charge of establishing Sansan’s overseas development offices.
When he and some other members of Sansan’s senior leadership came over to Cebu, I had the chance to meet and talk with them a few times. Thanks to that, I was able to understand the company’s mission, vision, products, and technology, and most importantly for me, Sansan’s culture and way of working.
Sansan maintains an open atmosphere in which everyone can express their opinion, regardless of their level in the organization. And everyone can, and should, contribute to improving the products. Essentially, it’s an engineering environment built on trust, which is really attractive.
The company’s also well established and well structured organizationally. This indicated that, despite its tech startup nature, Sansan is stable and sound. These aspects are really important to me since, like many who’ve been in this industry a long time, I’d had some issues working with unstable businesses.So from there, it really felt right for me to decide to join Sansan, and I became the company’s first employee here in Cebu.
Did you have any concerns before joining?
Honestly, since I had some experience working with a Japanese company before, I knew Japanese people tend to work long hours and have a strong hierarchical structure. But after several discussions with Fujikura-san, I came to understand that Sansan is in fact quite unique as a Japanese company.
As I mentioned, there’s almost an open management concept whereby the hierarchy is relatively flat and people can speak openly and constructively with each other, which makes all members feel they’re delivering value. Likewise, the working conditions and expectations are more similar to Western companies than those of your typical Japanese companies. And the leadership really understood the value of a happy and motivated workforce and of work-life balance.
Ed’s work and motivations at Sansan
Tell us about your role and mission at Sansan.
My former CEO recommended me to Sansan largely because of the part I played in that company's growth. Sansan was looking for someone who was tuned into the local network, had relevant experience of growing a company, and who’d be able to lighten the sort of concerns I mentioned, which local engineers might have. I’m expected to bring in some of the best local talents available.
How is the recruitment going so far?
There are many different recruiting channels, but probably the most reliable one is for people to access and utilize their own personal networks. People can vouch for other people’s abilities and performance.
Your connections will also trust you and what you tell them about the company and role. So far, many of the engineers we’ve hired have been via referrals from me or others. Quite a few of our new engineers have also already referred people, which is clearly a positive sign.
That said, we’re of course very keen to encourage applications from any talented people who are interested in joining. We are by no means referrals only! We’re open to finding the best talent.
Over time, we’re going to increase our outreach via various media channels, and we hope to build a strong reputation locally as a great place to work.
Working environment and communications with Japan
How has it been working in Sansan? Have you had any communication issues with teams overseas?
Really, it’s been great! We’re working as part of a global team that’s really diverse. I was expecting more communication issues, but dealing with members in other countries who speak English fluently definitely eases collaboration.
Along with day-to-day communications with other members of the global team, we have regular touchpoints with the company as a whole, such as the monthly company-wide meeting, which is really important for understanding what’s going on outside the boundaries of the global initiative.
Those meetings are very open and honest. It also keeps us plugged in to the ongoing initiatives in the company, as well as understand and fit into the company values and culture, which we call the Katachi (the “form” or mission) of Sansan.
How about relations within the company and team?
Sansan understands that good communication fosters good relationships. HR has initiated various programs to improve communication among members of different teams around the company.
One good example for the global team is the Online English Lunch, which lets us interact with Japanese members who we’d otherwise not be talking to. It’s really interesting meeting others and finding out about what they do for the company. Everyone in management feels that it’s important to ensure that the team in Cebu feels that they’re a part of the wider company.
We’re also holding team-building events for our Cebu team. We recently had one in which we emphasized the importance of effective communication and teamwork to achieve the team’s and company’s goals. We’re planning to have quarterly team-building events, and of course there are plenty of opportunities for socializing, which are arranged and incentivized by the company.
How regular are your touchpoints with the development team in Japan and business team in Singapore?
In my case, it’s mostly scrum activities. We have morning meetings that all of the engineers and management join, sprint planning, sprint retrospective and then every Friday we have demo and learning sessions.
Most, if not all, of those involve members from the development team in Japan, as well the Singapore members at the demo events. The demo sessions therefore also work as a regular feedback loop, since it’s the Singapore members who really understand the voice of the customer.
Future and goals
What’s your top goal for the Cebu office?
I’d say it’s 100% managed delivery. Ultimately, we’re aiming at managing end-to-end product delivery in Cebu. To achieve this, we have to increase not only our technical and functional (product) capabilities but also establish an effective way to manage the end-to-end development process and product delivery.
And how have you personally grown so far?
Well, we started with just three engineers last year and we were only able to support one project. Fast forward 10 months to now, and the team is 17 software engineers who are now supporting four or more projects. We expect this growth to continue as we onboard new members in the coming months.
Do you have any other priority projects you’re working on?
Aside from recruitment, the highest priority right now is our Capability Building Initiative. The goal here is to produce highly skilled software engineers who can deliver quality results through proper skills assessment and capability building. This initiative will provide a comprehensive training framework and support system to facilitate employees’ continuous development; not only with technology but also soft skills. This is actually part of our OKRs.
There’s still a lot to be done to achieve these goals. My challenge has only just begun, but I’m determined to break through any obstacles that arise, one by one, and grow the team.
We are hiring！
Interested in joining Edward Galan and the rest of the Global Product Team? Check for any current openings here.