Maximizing Organizational Results: Two Managers Driving Sansan’s Global Expansion

In 2023, Sansan established the Sansan Global Development Center, Inc. (SGDC), in Cebu, Philippines, to strengthen product development targeting markets around the world. Now, with more than a year gone by, SGDC has now surpassed 50 employees. The members are mainly developing the Bill One invoicing solution and recently have also taken on development work on some systems for the Digitization Department, which is responsible for digitizing analog data.

We interviewed Edward Galan, SGDC’s first employee, who is now the Operations Manager and Engineering Manager, and Yuya Kimura, SGDC’s Group Manager and Engineering Manager after serving as Engineering Manager for the Bill One business. We asked them about the appeal of being involved in management at this base.




Edward Galan
Sansan Global Development Center, Inc.

Edward joined Sansan in July 2022 to help build SGDC 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.

Yuya Kimura
Group Manager, Bill One Engineering Unit, Engineering Division

After working in industries spanning hardware to software, Yuya joined Sansan, Inc., in 2021 and started his career with Sansan as an engineer working on Bill One. He’s now taking on Bill One development as Engineering Manager of Bill One Engineering Unit and SGDC.

Managers become more important
as the organization expands

The number of SGDC employees has grown considerably since the Center began. How has the organization changed over the past year?

Edward:We’ve put a great deal of effort into hiring since SGDC's was launched. We started with just a few people and a small office, but now we’re over 50 people and we’ve moved to a new office. With that, the importance of engineering managers has increased.

Managers play a wide variety of roles, but one of the most important is helping members advance in their careers. We motivate and engage with our members to create an environment that improves everyone's performance. I used to be the only engineering manager, but as the organization expanded, more managers were needed.

Yuya, how did you become involved with SGDC as an Engineering Manager?

Yuya:While I was glad to see the number of SGDC members increase, I also felt that the organizational structure wasn’t keeping up with the foundation that was laid. I joined Sansan about two and a half years ago and was part of the Bill One development team in Japan, which at the time had about 15 members. It’s now up to about 70 and I felt that situation was similar.

As an engineering manager for Bill One, I'd been dealing with building the organization’s foundation and I thought I could use that knowledge at SGDC. Though SGDC is physically far from Japan, we’re all colleagues who are building Bill One together. The better SGDC becomes as an organization, the more meaningful it will be for Sansan as a whole.

Helping manage a rapidly growing organization
is a rare opportunity

What kind of work would you like newly joining engineering managers to do?

Edward:Engineering managers also manage recruitment, so I'd like them to help attract a pool of strong and qualified candidates. Also, as I mentioned, we help support the careers of those who join our company.

Through these efforts, I want to build a high-performance team. But of course, it's not possible to assemble a great team immediately, so managers also need to create an environment in which members can work healthily and happily, and they’ll stay with the company.

We hope to have managers who aren't only technically skilled but also have good soft skills. Listening and empathy, for example, are important skills, and I want to see managers who can put themselves in the other person's shoes and think together with them about different issues. We hold regular in-house workshops and have a training system in place to improve these skills.

Are there any unique experiences that a person can gain from working as an engineering manager at SGDC compared with other companies in the Philippines?

Edward:The biggest difference between us and other companies is our environment in which we can always keep challenging ourselves. In typical IT companies in the Philippines, after you join, you'll spend the first few years building yourself up in your first position, and then you'll move up to a more senior position. SGDC, however, provides talented people with opportunities so they can take on new positions in about 6 months. Of course, with challenges come responsibilities, but people can grow through these opportunities.

I myself initially managed only a small number of engineers, but as the organization grew, the number of people I managed grew as well. In the process, I've improved my skills and I believe I'll be able to grow even more when new engineering managers join the company, because I’ll be responsible for managing not only the members but also the managers.

Yuya:I think there are two major differences between us and other companies. First, there aren't many opportunities out there to manage a rapidly growing organization. We’re currently starting up a base going from 0 to 1 and we see it expanding rapidly in the future. There are limitless things that need to be done. It’s a great opportunity to be able to take on challenges in such an environment.

The second difference is the exposure to Japanese culture within SGDC. With several engineering manager candidates who I’ve interviewed here, when I asked them why they applied with us, I was very impressed when they answered, "Because it's a Japanese company." There are people in the Philippines who are interested in Japan, and I think it's attractive for them to be able to interact with Japan while working at SGDC.

Making SGDC grow even faster

What do you see as the future of the SGDC?

Yuya:We have members with ample potential, yet we’re not yet able to maximize that potential. We’re also now mainly developing Bill One, and though we're aiming for product-market fit globally, it's still in an exploratory stage as a product.

However, if the right circumstances come together, we should be able to get that fit in one fell swoop. Also, regarding the size of Bill One's development organization, I think the headcount at SGDC will soon exceed that of Japan. Once the management structure is in place, SGDC should be able to produce strong business results.

In the future, I'd like SGDC to become not just an organization that creates Bill One but rather an organization that creates products for Sansan as a whole, working jointly with the Engineering Division in Japan. Since many SGDC members are highly motivated to learn and have great potential, it would be great if we could build a relationship of mutual, friendly competition between Japan and SGDC.

Edward:As Yuya said, SGDC has members with great potential. As an engineering manager, I have the important responsibility of working side by side with our members to maximize the organization’s results.

I’d like future engineering managers at SGDC to be people who can face various challenges that arise in the organization in a positive and proactive way. I'd like to work with people who are self-motivated in any situation and who consider what happens in the organization as their personal responsibility.



text&photo: mimi