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Seasons of Change, a Time to Build (News from Japan)

As the cherry blossom bloom in the early stages of spring, things are opening up! Not just the flowers. We’re able to get around more, quarantines are being shortened or lifted in many areas.

In the countryside, Sansan’s support of a college of innovation for young minds outside the major metro areas is moving forward. We’re bolstering our brilliant minds in engineering. And we held Sansan Evolution Week with Japanese and global guests.

Kamiyama Marugoto – Prayers for Safety and Success, Building Seamlessly with Nature

Sansan continues its work on the Kamiyama Marugoto College of Design, Technology, and Entrepreneurship in rural Shikoku, Japan. Find specifics on our corporate page here.

In Japan, when constructing a new house or building, Shinto rituals are widely practiced to pray for safe construction.

A safety prayer ceremony was held at the construction site of this innovative facility to pray for the safety of the school’s construction.

This prayer service is generally held at the site by priests and involving various members concerned with the construction. This important Japanese event is considered to be a greeting to the guardian deity of the land.

The Kamiyama College is set to open 1 years from now, in April 2023. It’s located in Kamiyama-cho, Tokushima Prefecture, on Shikoku, the smallest of Japan’s four major islands.

Along with construction of a new school building, the former building of a local junior high school will be renovated for use as a student dormitory, staff room, and library.

Sansan founder and CEO Chikahiro Terada, who’s also a candidate for president of the college, along with other key figures in establishing the school, and joined the mayor of Kamiyama, were in attendance.

The school building is constructed by architects who are connected with the area, using Kamiyama lumber. It’s designed to blend in with the beautiful scenery of the area. The open spacing is designed to encourage interaction with people and society.

More photos and information on the project and on Terada-san (in Japanese) are available on Business Insider here.

New Sansan VPoE Leads Growing Engineering Team

Masahiro Nishiba in February took over as Sansan’s Vice President of Engineering (VPoE). The multi-talented Nishiba will head our growing team of engineers.

Nishiba joined Sansan 2021 after studying mathematical modeling and working as an engineer, business manager, and recruiter in healthcare IT.

He’s now tasked with further strengthening Sansan’s engineering capabilities. We asked him a few questions about his plans and how he sees Sansan globally.

Congratulations on your appointment. Tell us what you want to accomplish as VPoE.

I’m an engineer as well, so I have to say Sansan has a really talented engineering team. I’d like to further establish Sansan’s global profile by building an organization that lets our engineers fully explore their talent.

What are your strengths as a VPoE?

I understand technology and engineers, but also have a business perspective. I’ve had experience in areas such as promotion, product management, engineering management, and business management.

I think I can successfully bring technology and business together, which, I believe, accelerate the improvement of the Sansan engineering team.

Why did you choose to join Sansan?

It was clear that Sansan already established itself as a SaaS leader in Japan, which made me think that I may not be able to contribute to organizational development or management. However,  after speaking with CEO Terada, I learned how Sansan is still expanding. As I listened to the vision for the company’s future, I felt there would be many opportunities for me to take on new challenges.

You’re in charge of further strengthening Sansan’s engineering organization. What do you think are its current strengths?

We have a group of highly skilled engineers who are already globally competitive. Each engineer understands our mission and vision, which is also the guiding principle of the company. So each engineer is able to work independently to develop technology.

What kind of organization do you want to build in the future?

I’m aiming for every engineer at Sansan to have a stronger business perspective and, individually, boost our business growth. To achieve this, people need to be empowered to make decisions quickly.

This can be enabled in ways such as by making information more open between departments and groups. I’d also like to create an environment in which engineers themselves can take on new challenges and develop their skills.

How would you like to see Sansan and its services advance globally?

Japan has many companies, especially in manufacturing, that are recognized as global brands, while there aren’t many Japanese IT companies recognized as the same. Sansan is expanding its business globally, but it still has a ways to go to reach top-level recognition.

I believe Sansan can become much stronger globally, and can be recognized as a global brand. Sansan can serve as a prime example for other Japanese IT companies.

Sansan Evolution Week – 5 Days of Trailblazing Ideas

Sansan Evolution Week 2022 was held online for from March 7 to 11. This is the third time holding one of our premier events, inviting not only Japanese leaders but global ones. In a sense, the emergence of videoconferencing in the last 2 years is a blessing. We’re now able to reach all corners of the world, which expands the list of participants.

Under the theme “Work Shift,” global experts and digital transformation (DX) leaders presented innovations that are moving our world forward, changing how we work.

The even started with an introduction from Sansan Director and CRO Kei Tomioka (below).

On Day 1, Michael Wade, an expert in DX and professor at IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland, spoke on “The Nature of DX and Organizational Transformation.”

Wade defined DX as the process of using digital tools and business models to transform organizations and improve performance. He emphasized that DX is about finding new ways to create value for customers.

To achieve this, he said, it’s important to review organizational aspects such as human resources, processes, and corporate culture, set appropriate goals, and build a system to address them throughout the organization.

On the final day, Rita McGrath, author of the best-selling book The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business and professor at Columbia Business School, spoke on the theme of “Identifying Business Inflection Points.”

This was based on her expertise in business planning and strategy development in times of uncertainty.

She spoke about how history shows that change is in fact the norm and stability is rather rare. And by properly identifying inflection points, businesses can grow to new levels. She stressed the importance of having a diverse organization that can absorb the opinions even of those on the way out.

See the event page (in Japanese) here.

Hope your spring is blooming with innovation and transformation! 🌸

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