Significance of “proactivity” at SoftBank:
Younger employees can realize their dreams!
Round table participants were five 2018 new hire employees. Rei Kondo, who is attending sales training at mass sales shop; Yuki Mitsunaga, who finished training and is involved in advertisement strategy planning; Hitomi Yanaizu, engaged in new business in healthcare area using IoT; Tetsuro Sonoda, involved in transmission of television sports images through fiber-optic lines and internet; and Yoshiaki Nagasawa, jointly planning new services with other companies.
Why did you choose SoftBank?
- Participating in “Ture-Tech,” a regional development internship program, made me want to work for SoftBank. I’m from a countryside in eastern Hokkaido and spent all my time up to university in Hokkaido, so the term “regional development” was very appealing to me. To be honest, I only associated SoftBank with mobile phones until then. However, SoftBank employees that I met through the internship were all so enthusiastic and attractive, and the corporate philosophy “information revolution—happiness for everyone” also resonated with me, so I decided to join.
- My dream is to start my own business. When I was in university, I started a car-sharing business in Malaysia, where I was studying. The business went well, but in hindsight, I think it was pure luck. When I was wondering how to develop my abilities rather than rely on luck, I came across the “SoftBank InnoVenture” system, where employees propose and start new businesses. SoftBank InnoVenture provides an opportunity to launch new business while acquiring business skills and IT knowledge through daily work. I decided to join, as SoftBank supports skills development through work and entrepreneurship.
I have several projects in mind to utilize SoftBank InnoVenture when the right time comes, but the current department is also moving to expand its business area, so I’m focusing on my job at the moment.
- I’ve been practicing baton twirling since the age of three, and have keenly focused on my goal of becoming No.1 and made continuous efforts, always thinking about how I can reach the top position and what I was lacking. As a result, I’ve won consecutive national competitions, and was also part of the team that won the World Baton Twirling Championships. So I was attracted more by the SoftBank Value that focuses on “No.1” and “tenacity” rather than the business aspect. Doing everything to become No.1, with tenacity. I thought my strength can be useful for SoftBank, and decided to join.
- When I was looking for a job, I focused on two points: that I can get involved with making hit products and how hits are made; and that I can access entire Japanese market. The deciding factor was that SoftBank appreciated who I am. I had another company I was interested in, and could have been happy with either. As I proceeded with interviews and meetings, SoftBank HR listened to my dreams, which enabled me to present myself honestly, so I decided to join.
- There are two reasons why I chose SoftBank. First is that it has a very wide range of users. Second is the visionary business. I was engaged in cancer related research at graduate school, and felt the limit of existing drugs and medicine. Then I came across a commercial product by a company that used AI in diagnostic support system to identify cancer in a patient and presented an effective treatment. I strongly felt that technology is evolving at an amazing speed, and can make significant change in medicine. I decided to join SoftBank because I thought if various data can be gathered by SoftBank leveraging on its wide range of users and be used effectively, it could contribute to early discovery and treatment of diseases, and perhaps even to preventative medicine in the future.
Age and gender do not matter for SoftBank culture
- Once I started working, I was further impressed with the equal opportunity provided regardless of seniority. However, it is not given to you if you just wait passively. An opportunity arises by proactively making the effort. I think providing the opportunity to shine regardless of job type or business is SoftBank’s strength.
- I agree. Nowadays, all companies say age and gender does not matter, but I’ve heard there are cases where people realized that reality differs after joining. However, I feel that age and gender really does not matter at SoftBank. A supervisor may be younger than the subordinate. There is an environment that encourages new ideas regardless of age, and the efforts are evaluated fairly.
What was the uniqueness of SoftBank discovered after joining?
- Uniqueness of SoftBank has to point to the SoftBank Values. I like all of the five SoftBank Values, but in particular, I focus on “tenacity.” I’ve also come to realize the significance of “Reverse Planning” and “Speed.” Projects will run smoothly if it is promoted at the right timing, when all the stakeholders including employees as well as clients and business partners are excited about the prospect. On the other hand, if reverse planning has not been made and speed is lacking, it may result in the project stalling, and losing to competitors. To successfully close transactions, projects should have a sense of urgency, and to do that, a detailed reverse planning is necessary. Otherwise, opportunities will be lost. I became keenly aware of the importance of reverse planning starting from the goal, and working with speed.
- Certainly, no amount of tenacity will produce success if you’re not headed in the right direction. Without reverse planning, tenacity and speed will not follow. Experienced employees seem to do it naturally, so there’s a lot for me to learn. I’m always thinking about reverse planning in my routine tasks.
But I would also like to maintain the challenger’s spirit at work. Not just for the current position, but also to maintain my dream of applying for SoftBank InnoVenture, which was my motivation to join.
- I can sympathize with what Sonoda-san said. The basic premise is that SoftBank Values work together to create value, and my favorite is “challenge.” You can see reverse planning and speed in action by observing experienced employees. However, I think maintaining the fresh challenger’s spirit could be difficult after working for 10, 20 years. So as a warning for myself, I’d like to focus on “challenge.”
- Based on the same premise as Nagasawa-san, I think “tenacity” is the uniqueness of SoftBank. My interpretation of tenacity is to keep asking myself “did I do everything I can?” when there’s something I really want to achieve. In the pursuit of No.1 position, SoftBank employees should have tenacity, always questioning “did I make every effort?”
- Sales business unit training also emphasizes tenacity. Users of other companies are usually not interested in SoftBank in the beginning. It would be easy to give up, but you can’t win contracts if you give up. Capturing hearts of users requires tenacity. Hurdle for acquiring new customers is high. (Laugh) Customers can sense when you become complacent in your job and cut corners in your explanation. On the other hand, if you show tenacity to win the customer over, I believe they would feel that too.
Career vision keeps expanding after joining
- I want to work on a global scale. I don’t think there is another Japanese company that expanded global network and acquired recognition as fast as SoftBank did. Now that I’ve joined, I’d like to fully leverage on this environment. I’d like to become someone who casually says, “I’ll just head to Africa now!”
- That’s a coincidence, I had relations with Africa while I was a student, so I’d like to go to Africa in the future too. (Laugh) Not just Africa, but my current goal is to work abroad. SoftBank provides an environment that encourages new ideas when thinking about career development. So I’d like to challenge new things and make my career goals and dreams a reality.
- Recently I had an opportunity to discuss career development with my supervisor, which made me imagine my future as a supervisor in detail. I always wanted to gain experience involving and moving people. Based on the issues and experiences from the front line, I’d like to get people around me involved in the efforts to improve sales performance at the shop, and create an environment where each member can play on their strength. I will also focus on my performance, and aim to further enhance my career.
- While at university, I was focused on radio program production and created a No.1 program for the station in terms of number of listeners. From this experience, my aim is to deliver interesting things that can make people happy, for many people. SoftBank’s business will continue to change, so there should be many opportunities for building new companies and product brands. I would like to fully leverage on the opportunities provided by SoftBank, enhance my skills as a marketer and realize my dreams.
- I have so many things I’d like to do at SoftBank in the long-term. But my current organization has just been established, so I’d like to focus on establishing the presence, or the positioning, of the Healthcare Business Unit within the company and industry in the next three years. In 10 to 15 years, SoftBank Healthcare Service should be expanded broadly. Based on that, I’d like to build user recognition where a customer of the sales division would say “SoftBank healthcare service? I use it too.” I’d like to be the person who creates the development flow of a business like that.
Message for Students
- I’d like to encourage students seeking employment to pursue their dreams. By doing that, they are likely to encounter a company that appreciates them. Students should focus on such pursuit.
- I’d like to tell them that “SoftBank doesn’t overwork employees, it’s a good company!” (laugh) Use of Work from Home System and Super Flextime System is promoted, and you can even come to work at 1:00 p.m. with prior reporting to your supervisor, so long as it does not affect business. Also, whichever company you’re interested in, don’t just focus on the one, and expose yourself to wide range of industries. By reaching out to various companies, meet people and have a feel of the company and employees. Trust your gut feeling and search for a job without leaving any regrets.
- I’d like to advise not to give up your values where it matters. There will be many aspects of a company you only get to see by joining, but meet people from various industries to identify those aspects. After joining SoftBank, I’ve come to believe that the “strength of individuals” and “own strength” are values that should not be compromised. SoftBank is engaged in wide range of businesses, so your dreams can stay big. It provides an environment where you can learn, and I believe you are given significant opportunities to challenge yourself.
- When thinking about my life, the most important thing is to know my own values and identify where my interests lie. Many of you may not know what you want to do yet, but you can start by looking for something else. For example, you can look for someone you can respect. Identifying your own value, free from value of others, could be an important perspective.
- When I started job hunting, I wasn’t interested in telecom services or mobile phones. However, I resonated with SoftBank’s vision and values, and employees I visited were very frank and easy to communicate with. So if you select a company based on philosophy and employee values you can sympathize with, you could probably avoid mistakes.
Nagasawa, Sonoda, Kondo, Mitsunaga, Yanaizu
Do your best, good luck!
- ※Information as of November 2018.