Cross Talk

Cross Talk

TALK 01
SoftBank’s appeal for experienced hire employees What are SoftBank’s appeals as seen from outside?

Three experienced hire engineers discuss their job-hunting experience
and the reality after joining SoftBank.
From what perspective do engineers choose their employers?

people
  • Ken Akune

    Technology Unit IT&Network Unit
    IT Operation Division IT Service Operation Division
    IT Infrastructure Operation Department System Infrastructure Operation Section
    [ 2017 Experienced Hire ]

  • Gouki Kaneko

    Technology Unit Mobile Technology Unit
    Smart IoT & AI Division AI & Data Engineering Division
    Data Science Department Data Science Section
    [ 2017 Experienced Hire ]

  • Yohi

    Technology Unit Mobile Technology Unit
    Application Engineering Division
    IoT Platform Development Department Development Section 2
    [ 2017 Experienced Hire ]

CROSSTALK TALK 01

Why did they choose SoftBank?

SoftBank promotes the “Beyond Carrier” strategy, and deploys various new businesses in Japan, including AI, IoT, robotics, sharing, fintech, security, and cloud, stemming from the telecoms business. In addition, SoftBank actively utilizes AI and RPA as a means to structural reform. So what type of engineers do SoftBank attract? Three experienced hire engineers discussed their reason for switching jobs and choosing SoftBank, as well as their goals.

SoftBank’s appeals as seen from inside.
What’s the appeal for engineers?

We asked three engineers to gather round to a discussion: Ken Akune, who is engaged in operation and planning/promotion of automation of mission critical IT infrastructure for entire SoftBank; Gouki Kaneko, performing big data analysis of mobile business customer data using AI and machine learning; and Yo Hi, engaged in development and implementation of IoT platform. They are all experienced hires between 2017 and 2018.

What made you switch jobs?

Akune
I was researching cloud technology at a major IT vendor. I felt that although researchers can access the leading-edge technology, the sense of satisfaction that I was making direct contribution to resolving issues for the front line was rare. So I wanted to become an infrastructure engineer engaged in front line work.
Kaneko
I belonged to a corporate risk management consulting firm, and was seconded to the risk management department of the parent company, a general trading house. Main tasks involved risk management and financial analysis of business partners, and development of corporate credit rating models. I have a doctorate in theoretical physics so I wanted to pursue data analysis, but you become a generalist at a trading house, so I needed to switch jobs to pursue my specialist field.
Yo
I was providing systems installation advice to clients in various industries as an IT consultant working for a foreign consultancy firm. I wanted to switch jobs because I wanted to work for a corporation where I can work on the entire process, starting from upstream tasks. Consulting involved various contents depending on the needs of the clients, so it was difficult to gain detailed knowledge about single industry. There were project-based spot transactions, and I felt the need to work for a corporation to enhance my expertise and develop my career.

What was the reason for choosing SoftBank out of numerous engineering job advertisements?

Akune
I focused on the size of the system and the freedom, that the company provided opportunities to challenge myself. I considered other companies along with SoftBank. There were others with large systems, but the level of freedom given to infrastructure engineers by SoftBank was outstanding. There were things that could not be seen from outside before the job interviews, but I confirmed the business operation style and level of discretion during the process, and got along well with the interviewer, so thought I could enjoy work at SoftBank and made up my mind.
Kaneko
I searched for jobs that enable my pursuit of mastering data analysis, and started from looking at data scientist positions at consultancies and specialist positions at financial institutions. However, I couldn’t find anything that matched my wishes in terms of involvement in projects from upstream to downstream, and in terms of the impact on front office from middle and back office departments. The reason why I chose SoftBank is the focus on AI, and the challenge of analyzing massive big data acquired from mobile business.
Yo
When you consider a career at a corporation, whether or not the corporation is focused on new technologies bound to expand is an important point. I chose SoftBank because SoftBank offered positions specialized in IoT which matched my project management experience as a consultant, experience at the telecoms vendor, and my background that can be useful for global projects.

How do you honestly feel after joining?

Akune
The level of freedom was as expected and I’m happy about it. What was a bit unexpected was that there was more room for improvement in systems management than I had imagined. However, I can make proposals on improvement, so there is a sense of satisfaction. As the platform will be used by a large number of people, I’m proposing and implementing something that’s not too outrageous, more user-friendly and easier to operate.
Kaneko
I’m working on what I wanted through customer big data analysis, such as customer behavior forecasting and analysis for optimal marketing measures. There are times I have to seek help when I don’t have the right skill set. We have many talented co-workers with amazing skills and knowledge in AI and data science at my department. Younger employees are very talented too. New hires are very active in projects, and you can’t dismiss them as first year employees.
Yo
I’m also enjoying work, at a job involving IoT which is what I wanted. I’m in charge of platform implementation. I think the robust training system is appealing to an engineer. It’s great to have an environment that provides access to new technologies and products while learning about them. I also appreciate that it’s easier to use paid leaves than with my previous employer.
Kaneko
The corporate culture is different. Previous employer was a large corporation with detailed procedures and manuals, but SoftBank has a very flat and free structure in comparison. I appreciate that you don’t need to worry about things that don’t really matter, and focus on the important tasks.
Akune
I can relate to that. I worked for a company that’s comparable to SoftBank in term of size, but the time I can focus on one task was so much less compared to now. I frequently felt unsatisfied.
Kaneko
A gap I noticed might be that I had expected the employees to be eccentric and edgy, but they turned out to be rather normal people (laugh). I had an impression that SoftBank was an aggressive company, but it was actually an organized and logical entity.
Akune
Not all employees are edgy. As an organization, SoftBank constantly challenges new ideas, so the speed of decision-making is unparalleled, and the organization changes in a flash. If a release date is decided with reverse planning from the goals and targets, the company moves to achieve the goal with enormous energy.

Mastering the leading-edge, while also engaging in business-oriented operations

Kaneko
The appeal of SoftBank is how it balances pursuit of the leading-edge and corporate responsibility of providing new services to customers. I think it’s a great company for engineers sharing the same philosophy. It might not suit someone who wants to focus just on research, or someone who is only interested in making money.
Yo
I think it suits engineers who want to start a new project from scratch, or get involved in everything from planning to development.
Akune
I agree. At SoftBank, you’re not done when you finish development; you have to think about how it can be used in the services to follow. It’s good that you can collaborate, rather than doing everything on your own. When a company relies on single individual’s efforts, it creates key person risk and could fail.
Kaneko
It may cut both ways. People from diverse backgrounds are showing their strength, but even a superstar engineer is expected to make business-oriented proposals, so SoftBank may be better suited for an engineer with good sense of balance.

What is your future at SoftBank?

Kaneko
I tend to be seen as a technical specialist as my title is data scientist, but I’d like to become sort of a hub that translates technical language to business language, and turn business requirements to technology. A translator, so to speak.
Yo
Like Kaneko-san, I would also like to get closer to the business side. I’d like to get involved in planning and launching new businesses. Technology enables more realistic proposals, and I can contribute in that respect. I’d like to get involved in global new business in the future, so I’m busy studying.
Akune
I’d like to become a hub that connects various technology layers, such as applications, networks, and servers. I moved from the network layer to server layer, and feel that the organization can be run smoothly if the server communication included network perspective. I’d like to become an engineer who can discuss various technologies used by SoftBank, regardless of specialist or management position.
Kaneko
It may sound ordinary, but the appeal of SoftBank in a word has to be “freedom.” You can do anything you want, and the company has the necessary resources and the size. The corporate culture is also approving of the freedom. For me, that’s the appeal of working for SoftBank.
Yo
I agree. SoftBank’s appeal is that it tries to be the first to commercialize new technology and introduce it to the world. It is keen to deploy business.
Akune
I think SoftBank is a company that can contribute to business and social infrastructure.
  • Information as of November 2018.

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