We recently had a chance to talk with Mr. Yamashita and Ms. Ishii, who just joined HENNGE's Cloud Sales Division, about why they joined the company and about any gaps or differences from their expectations they have felt since joining.
First of all, please tell me your roles at HENNGE.
I work at the Osaka Branch Office, where I handle field sales,
including HENNGE One promotion and proposal activities aimed at customers mainly in the Kansai
I sell HENNGE One, mainly to customers in the Greater Tokyo area with
less than 1,000 employees. In addition to field sales, I'm in charge of business introduced to
us by our partners and distributors.
Your previous jobs weren't in the IT industry, right? Why did you
decide to change careers?
After graduating from graduate school, I joined a major company, but I didn't find the work enjoyable, so I decided to switch to a research and development position. But, that job wasn't really what I expected, either. That was when I realized that I would never find work enjoyable as long as I kept expecting things of my company. I decided that I would definitely prefer to be at a company where I could create my own kind of work. So, I changed jobs to work at a company where it's possible to take on such a challenge.
This is actually my first career change. Previously, I worked at a major travel agency, and I didn't have any particular dissatisfaction with my job. The work was worthwhile and my personal relationships were good, so I enjoyed going to work every day. The reason I decided to change jobs even though I was in such a wonderful environment was that, to put it simply, I wanted to take on the challenge of a growing industry. The travel industry is shrinking. Due to the widespread use of the Internet, customers can make their own travel plans, and overseas travel has become inexpensive. It occurred to me that the travel industry wasn't going to grow much further, so I decided to change jobs.
Why did you choose the IT industry when you changed jobs?
Research and development work was often inefficient and highly dependent on individual skills, and I constantly found myself thinking that there were many ways to increase efficiency by incorporating IT and the cloud. My interest in the IT industry is a result of my desire to have a job where I can actually try to improve efficiency in this way.
In my case, I wanted to try my hand at sales. So, I looked for corporate sales positions regardless of the industry. During my search, I received a direct message from a job search website, and it made this company look interesting.
In general, only the good things are written on job search websites and corporate websites. However, sometimes you realize the job isn't what you expected once you actually change jobs. After you started working at HENNGE, did you experience any sort of gap compared to what you were expecting? The reality of it, so to speak.
Before I joined the company, I was called to lunch meetings and was interviewed, so I didn't really experience any difference from my expectations after joining. However, there was a bit of a gap in terms of the actual work. The reason for this is that--although I had a lot of discretion over sales at my travel agency due to the many products it sold--at HENNGE, all I sell is HENNGE One. As a consequence, there's not much I can do at my own discretion.
I see. Even within the IT industry, a systems integrator can freely design a system based on customer needs. But, in the case of a vendor such as HENNGE, it's necessary to apply existing products and services to customer needs. So in that sense, I suppose there isn't much discretion over sales.
I didn't experience much of a gap compared to my expectations, either. My Kansai team members are the select few people involved in customer success, sales, digital intelligence, and similar jobs, but they are all friendly. You can talk to them about anything, and we cooperate and support each other even with difficult tasks. That actually lines up with the idea I had of HENNGE to begin with. I suppose that's why I don't really feel that there is a gap. However, I have heard from other branch offices that in some places there can sometimes be trouble in terms of cooperation between departments.
Cooperation between departments seems like it might be related to HENNGE's corporate culture. I feel that, at least in development-oriented departments, part of our culture is to start by looking things up on your own if there's something you don't know. In other words, I suspect that a lot of people don't like it if you start by asking for help. People who aren't used to that kind of culture might very well feel like there is trouble in terms of cooperation.
Is that so? I have actually experienced the opposite; that part of HENNGE's culture is to teach you what you need to know. My previous job was unrelated to IT, so IT-specific terminology was a barrier for me at first. I had no clue what everyone was talking about, and I seriously felt like I was learning a foreign language (laughs). At times like that, I would ask my mentor what the unfamiliar words meant, and their explanations helped me to understand. Even now that I talk on site with customers, whenever there is something I don't understand, I make a note and discuss it with my team members later.
Another aspect of HENNGE's culture is that you get a firm response if you convey clearly what you're thinking. Here, even if you are young, you are expected to express what you're thinking clearly instead of just saying yes and nodding your head. In other words, communication is regarded as extremely important at HENNGE.
I also feel that communication is important at HENNGE. In addition, because there are so many different types of people at HENNGE, it is essential to be cooperative. You have to listen to each person's opinions and try to understand them as you pursue your work. In that sense, you could say that this is an ideal company for someone who wants to work with a variety of people.
It's definitely true that all types of people work at HENNGE. Even the rules are often decided by individual team members rather than by the company or superiors. Because our environment is constantly changing, our corporate culture involves changing the rules accordingly by ourselves and applying these changes on-site.
People who fit well in HENNGE
I want to hear about how you work. At HENNGE, we use various IT tools in our work, right? That's one major reason telecommuting and other work styles are possible. How do you feel about such work approaches?
At my previous job, working wasn't even possible without a paper file. In addition, I often had to work overtime just to put my seal of approval. However, because HENNGE uses the cloud, there's no need for that kind of work. On top of that, the required knowledge and know-how are available via Slack and other tools, and it's nice to be able to access such information whenever it's required. Therefore, I feel like situations where you have to rely on the individual skills of specific people are uncommon.
I feel that the speed of business at HENNGE is really fast. As an example, at my previous job, it took a really long time just to create one estimate, but HENNGE can do that in an instant. At the same time, because tools allow us to communicate any time, sometimes people contact me when I'm at home relaxing, which can make me a little anxious. I realize that I don't have to respond immediately, but I still want to, so I always end up reacting.
Are you saying that it's hard to find a balance between work and your private life?
Well, I've managed to find such a balance. While it's true that sometimes I'm contacted at night, depending on the situation, I don't always feel like I have to respond immediately, so it's not a serious problem or anything.
I feel that my working hours have decreased considerably. My previous job was in a labor-intensive industry, so there was a lot of overtime, and we even had tour escort duties. As a result, I've had more free time since I came to HENNGE, which is a real delight, and I use my time to study for the Information Technology Passport Examination and to study English. The fact that this company supports career advancement has also been a big help.
I've started studying programming to advance my career.
HENNGE's official in-house language is English. How do you feel about that?
HENNGE offers various kinds of support for studying English, so I feel extremely lucky. I'm thinking that I'd like to fully utilize the available support.
I feel like there's too much of a focus on getting a high TOEIC score. In my work, including selling to customers, I don't even use English that much... I suspect that some people may actually be stressed out by the overemphasis on the TOEIC score.
What types of people do you think would be suited to working at HENNGE?
HENNGE doesn't seem like a good place for people who put up walls. In some ways, HENNGE demands truthfulness and genuineness.
HENNGE isn't the kind of company where everything you might need is available. However, our corporate culture emphasizes the importance of finding a way to deal with shortcomings on our own instead of resorting to criticism. People capable of such efforts might find it enjoyable to work at HENNGE.
In closing, is there anything that you value in your work at HENNGE?
I try not to confine myself to conventional ways of thinking. I want to think about collaborating with other departments, for example, and go above and beyond in terms of things other than my own work, rather than just thinking about sales. Once you focus exclusively on sales, the thinking stops, and the desire to take on new challenges ceases to exist. Given that I've changed jobs specifically to work at a company that offers the opportunity to take on new challenges, it seems backwards not to try to do so.
I think it's important to enjoy your work. Therefore, I want to communicate actively not only with my own team but with people outside of it. I believe that, if you can perceive what other people are thinking, it makes work easier, and it also helps your customers.
Thank you for your time today!
Please visit HENNGE Blog to read more about HENNGE's thoughts and changes.