Dec 11 2019 Forming Global Teams, the ultimate strategy to maximize profits
Kazuo Ishigame is the Co-Founder and COO of Infostellar. In 2013, he started his career as a director at a startup company which provides a C2C marketplace service for anime fans. As a COO of the company. He was mainly responsible for recruiting, back office, alliance and the entire operation of customer support center. After he left the company he co-founded and established Infostellar in January 2016. As the COO he is mainly responsible for finance, recruitment and business promotion. He was selected for Forbes 2018th edition of 30 under 30 Asia in the Tech category.
An Early Step Towards Globalization
Infostellar has quite a number of foreign employees, but what was the story behind its initiative in hiring and creating a global team?
Kazuo Ishigame: Currently half of our team members are foreign employees. We try to create an environment filled with global elements such as mindset, language, culture, etc. My Co-founder and I are both fluent in English and we have experience abroad.
Infostellar is within the space industry and we cannot be fully established as a business unless the market itself is a global scale. In line with this, we have been conscious of creating a global organization since the company has been founded. But in reality, it was difficult and impractical to immediately set English as the company’s official language from the beginning. So, it was necessary to transition step by step.
In the beginning, we decided to hire foreigners who are bilingual, these people are assigned in business development and those related to it. Since we know that there are a lot of business opportunities and possible clients overseas, we first decided to create a system that can globally respond starting from these type of positions.
Infostellar’s Global Team
How about Japanese bilinguals, was there any option to hire Japanese bilinguals for this strategy?
Kazuo Ishigame: We were not exactly looking for Japanese bilinguals since we were not only after proficiency in both Japanese and English. For us, a global team means not only a group of people who could speak English, but as well as those who possess a global mindset as well. Even if there would be no language barrier, the differentiating point was in how the team members’ mindset and thinking would be like. That’s why our first step was having foreigners who can speak Japanese.
After concluding the need for a global team and hiring foreign bilinguals, how did the hiring process and organizational structure developed after that?
Kazuo Ishigame: Fortunately, we were able to hire members from India who are fluent in Japanese for business development positions. After that, we were also able to welcome more foreign members in the engineering team; who can speak Japanese. It was also during that time that some bilingual engineers were introduced through Active Connector.
Of course the recruitment of members from overseas accelerated the state of globalization of the organization, this also includes getting global investors to raise additional funds. In December 2017, after raising additional funds, English became the company’s official language. The communication and documentation are all in English. The awareness and consciousness that the organization must respond globally has increased.
Forming Globals Teams-A Necessity to Maximize Profits
Based on some of the things that you shared, it seems like there was a lot of work and effort in creating a global organization from scratch. Could you tell us a little bit more behind the ultimate reason for the company deciding to build a global team?
Kazuo Ishigame: From the beginning, the satellite and space industry is already a global market, but we think that there is a strategic perspective on how to maximize profits by fully understanding the characteristics of the business.
Unfortunately, in the space industry the presence of Japanese private companies has traditionally been extremely low. And the reality is that they are unable to capture external demand growing overseas. On the other hand, Japan has JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) which is an internationally recognized organization with a good technical presence. Based on that situation, We wanted to pursue a company with a global identity while having the high technological capabilities that Japan can offer. Even if the aim result was maximizing profits, you have inevitably created a global team as well.
Creating a global team itself was not exactly the end goal, but your company used it as a well thought out strategy to maximize results, That is very interesting because clearly this reflects the characteristics of the industry.
Kazuo Ishigame: Since I didn’t want members to work with the mentality that they are working for a traditional Japanese company, having a global mindset and environment established from the beginning was very important.
In 2018, Infostellar moved to a new office space
Foreigners and Gaijins are labels.
In Global Teams, they are not singled out or differentiated.
So far it seems like there were various efforts made to create an organization based on strategic intentions. In your opinion, What is deemed as the most important factor in creating a global team?
Kazuo Ishigame: One thing we can confidently say is that we should not make foreign members feel like they are the minority in the team. It’s not necessarily about the literal diversity or number of nationalities, but team members should share a global mindset so they would not accidentally single someone out.
Maybe you can share specific examples or circumstances on how companies can avoid creating this mindset of having minorities and accidentally making some people feel left out.
Kazuo Ishigame: For example, even if you are Japanese and you came from a big company and is transitioning to a small company or a startup environment, it might feel lonely at first. This is because the environment is different and the mentality is different from what you were used to.
However, the fact that the person was hired and brought in to the company, that person must have possessed the values and skills that the company wants and needs. If that is the case, even if it does not automatically matches between the company and the candidate, I think that there will be a transition period to necessarily incorporate the elements of that person into the company in the future. It’s also impossible to only care about the person’s skills but one should look at the other aspects the person brings to the team to be able to grow the company.
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