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Paidy Ranks ‘Creativity’ & ‘Collaboration’ as Key Factors for Growth
We asked Ken Izumi, VP of Engineering at Paidy, what Paidy culture is all about and to give us some tips about what the team looks for when onboarding new tech talent.
Kumiko Haraguchi, a (female) engineer in Japan wanted to learn more and be more, knowing that career advancement was in reach. We’ll talk about the career resources that helped Kumiko land a position as front-end engineer at Paidy, a fast-growing online payment startup based in Tokyo. Kumiko’s inspiring success story is shared through three influential perspectives– that of–Yan Fan, Co-founder & CTO of Code Chrysalis, Ken Izumi, VP of Engineering at Paidy Inc., and Nonoka Kaneko, Wahl & Case Consultant. Last but not least, Kumiko herself will share about her journey and the events that led up to her placement.
First, let’s dive into Kumiko’s profile which was rather seen as atypical from the usual hiring standpoint.
“The story is interesting because we were actually looking for a senior-level profile and we had only just hired one lead engineer before we hired Kumiko. Well, she’s actually not very senior [on paper], but she’s really passionate and proactive in trying to solve issues herself.”
Kumiko’s one and a half hour technical interview turned into three hours–not leaving the interview room until she had tried everything she could in solving a difficult problem. Ken recalls, “We have never seen that kind of passion from a candidate before. She never gave up. That’s really our first impression of Kumiko and her passion really impressed us.”
In terms of demographics, have you encountered other working Japanese females in tech companies?
“For me, I think it is rare. I don’t want to categorize engineers into genders like ‘male’ and ‘female’. An engineer is an engineer. But it is true, female engineers bring some very unique talent.”
“If you go into engineer meetings, some engineers have an ‘I-know-more-than-you’ type of attitude and I don’t know if I am generalizing but female engineers know how to get the ball rolling in communication.” Ken explains that a big part of promoting collaboration and dialogue within a team is having a degree of ‘sympathy’ or being able to ‘bridge the gaps’. “Those reactions that come from a place of sympathy and really listening and asking questions makes a difference in problem-solving.”
What does ‘creativity’ and ‘collaboration’ look like at Paidy?
One of the ways Ken has implemented “creativity” in the workplace is through “remote Thursdays”. Ken explains the reasons for doing so are to allow flexibility and to enhance creative thinking. “I think it’s important in general, not just for engineers, to step back from our day-to-day routine and reflect on what we’re doing. We encourage no meetings on Thursdays and our engineers are given the option to work from home where they can focus freely. Without this day of reflection or focus-time, every day would be flat.”
Collaboration and feedback are encouraged the following day after engineers have been given the time to really focus on a certain task or project.
Paidy is quite international when it comes to hiring talent, could you talk about the potential of Japanese candidates such as yourself and Kumiko?
“Yes, there are more foreigners than Japanese. Japanese team members include just myself, Kumiko and a mobile engineer who recently joined. He was looking for a global environment like us. It really comes back to the point that we look for candidates who really break out of their comfort zone and can cooperatively communicate in English. Kumiko was definitely the final candidate that could really collaborate and it’s really hard to find that kind of candidate.”
As someone who understands the “shy” and “modest” communication style of Japanese people, what is your advice to Japanese candidates in overcoming the hurdle of stepping out of their comfort zone?
“In my case, I remember experiencing really tough times when I first applied to jobs in an international setting. But, at the end of the day, I am working towards a position where I can walk with all of the global opponents. The fact that I can actually speak up in English makes a huge difference.”
So, my advice is, if you really want to work with, learn from and influence others in the global talent pool, just take a risk. Just one time. Maybe you will encounter some mistakes or failures, but never give up.
Ken also shares with us that having a great role model can help brush up English communication skills and “talking about [yourself]”. Ken kept practicing by mimicking his role model, remembering how a particular topic was pitched and then repeating the pitch again in his own words. Ken says, “I think Kumiko learned a lot by observing others. I think she went through the same experience as I did. Unless you’re put in that kind of environment, you never learn. You can probably hear something, read something, but once you jump into a foreign situation, you actually literally feel something.”
“Especially for engineers right now, everything has become an open community. All the knowledge is open, people share tweets and blogs. But the fact is that everything is open in English. So, if you really want to learn from the global talent pool, it’s not just about learning English but you also have to learn about different cultures and you will probably realize differences in perspectives and even discover more about yourself and your skills in a different global talent pool. The information and the timeliness are totally different. Just take a risk, it’s worth it.”
‘Creativity’ and ‘collaboration’ are two areas Ken aims to grow and nourish within the engineering team at Paidy. We look forward to seeing the growth and future of Paidy, online payment startup which allows its users to instantly make purchases with just your phone number and e-mail address.