EF's Support of Studying Abroad is my true calling. The power comes from the sense of vocation, "I want to support people's growth" (1/2)


Shoko Hasuo

International Education Executive Manager,

EF Education First Japan

Today's guest is Shoko Hasuo, International Education Executive Manager at EF Education First Japan (hereinafter called "EF"). EF is an international education company that specializes in language training, educational travel, academic degree programs, and cultural exchange. The company has been operating a standard English test called EFSET which is internationally recognized by the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) .


Shoko Hasuo has led sales planning, human resources, and new businesses in the areas other than education. We interviewed her about why she joined EF in February 2019, what is the best part of her job and what the essential role of that career is.


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――Please tell us about your business and main-mission at EF?

EF offers courses and programs that combine the language learning process with international exchanges, school trips, business schools and more. The most important thing is "To learn language with its culture". Since EF was founded in 1965 in Sweden by Bertil Hult, it is currently deployed in 116 countries and, at the same time, is one of the largest language schools in the world with over 52,000 employees.


Our main mission is "Opening the world through Education". The reason that we are one of the Official Partner of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 (Language Training Services) is because the mission of EF has similarities with the aspirations of the Olympics and Paralympics.


It's been said that Japanese people are shy, but we hope that it will be conveyed to other countries through the Olympics and Paralympics that “Japanese are more active in communication than we expected” and have a beautiful culture of “OMOTENASHI (hearted in hospitality)”. And what we are aiming for is "Because of EF, the way of communication in Japan has been changed”.

――Could you give us a brief overview of your current position at EF and your job content?


My current main task is to design and suggest individual plans to study abroad to people above the age of 25. We discuss and decide individually which country or region is best, when to go and how long to stay.


If you are working, you have time limitations to study abroad. So it is very important to clarify the purpose or the goal of their study abroad, such as "What kind of career do you want after studying abroad?" or "After you learnt the language, how do you use it in your future life?" If we get detailed information, we can propose suitable plans that fit into their life plans.


――What kind of work experience did you have before joining EF?


I joined DeNA as a new graduate. It was more like a start-up company then, it just got listed on Mothers Market and had about less than 200 employees. I was assigned to the Sales Department, and I learned a lot about how to create my own work and multi-tasking there. At that time, DeNA focused on the area of EC, and I was mainly involved in the sales department of the shopping mall division and the administrative support of business partners. I was transferred to Human Resources Department in my second year of DeNA and became a manager of General Affairs in my mid 20s.


Though it was an interesting job to do, I decided to quit. I asked myself, "Do I really want to be a professional in a corporate division?" I started to think that I want to try building my expertise in another career. I strongly felt that I wanted to be a person who could be valuable to other companies, too.


“If I were to start over again, it would be easier while I’m still in my 20s.” That was my thought and after a while, I started to work for Sony Engineering Corporation, a company that specialized in product design. They have a group of highly talented engineers who are responsible for designing Sony products.


By the time I joined their company, they were just about to start a new business focusing on ICT in Education. In America, the principals of the schools have the power to decide which ICT should be installed or avoided. Taking that in consideration, we aimed to develop our market in the US, and someone who could pursue business development and sales in English was in need. That is where I jumped in, and I visited schools with ICT prototypes and spent my five years there feeling how interesting the domain of "Education and Global" is. Unfortunately, commercializing the new ICT was difficult due to various circumstances and the project was ended.


――After that, what brought you back to DeNA?


I had an invitation from my former trainee whom I was in charge of when I was in DeNA’s HR Department. He said "We are looking for a person who likes sports, has a passion about education and who can follow the speed of DeNA, so I would like you to come back!" When I was previously working for DeNA, I thought that “Education of employees would become very important as the company grows” and with that mindset I was undertaking everything from designing concepts of training/education systems to implementation. I aimed to face everyone taking my training as an individual and not only as a group.

So, I was very happy to know that my trainee thinks that "When it comes to Education, it's Hasuo-san!", my thoughts were successfully delivered to him. I thought about it over and over, but at the end of the day, I made my decision to go back to DeNA.


DeNA was sponsoring the men’s long-distance track and field team and I was working on launching an academy for children to teach running as a new business. What do we want young athletes to take back from practicing "running"? It was a great opportunity to be able to see how they are growing up right in front of my eyes.


――I have the impression that the words "growth" and "education" are key for you. What were the main factors in moving to EF?


Through my past careers, my sense of mission has become clearer: I like teaching, and I want to create an environment where I can fully support the growth of people. "To provide a good learning environment and support change for those who want to learn something". This plays an essential role of my career. When I was working at Sony Engineering, I also liked to see the faces of teachers and students and how their attitudes toward learning changed positively during a demonstration at a school in New York.


However, Sony Engineering is a manufacturing company, and DeNA operates in various business fields. In both cases, it was difficult for them to put the education business as a main business. Because of that I made up my mind to move to EF.


Regardless of what kind of job I would take at EF, I felt that I could contribute for a long time, as it is an environment where we can work towards the common goal: Supporting change and growth through studying abroad.

[To Be Continued]

Read part 2.

Misato Matsuo.JPG

Misato Matsuo

Japan Interviewer Association certified interviewer/writer. Beyond creating original content for Wahl+Case, such as this piece, she interviews executives or authors for Flier, Inc.

She is currently working on her life’s-work, “A Career Interview Service”, interviewing people who are leading interesting lifestyles. She also has a blog for Education and Career Interviews.