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Go global story of a Japanese Product Owner

Kazuki Kawahara is on behalf of new generation in Japan who are ready to reach to the world.
Leaving Tokyo to Danang with his wander mind, Kazuki has encountered many hardships to get his own way in the end at Product Owner position in an IT company.

From now, his Go Global dream is beginning... Let's discover his colorful life and IT Jobs in one of the best IT company in Vietnam: Est Rouge Inc.

Could you tell me your career?

When I was a university student, I did a part time job of PC operator to input data. My major in university was Management. But I was interested in IT.
So, I studied some languages like C/C++, PHP, (HTML/CSS), JavaScript by myself. At that time I just study and don’t have as job experience.

The reason why I got interested in IT, I was impressed by the way of thinking and logic, culture of the IT field. I was interested in the concept of the thinking at IT field.

After graduated from university, I was working at Web development company as HTML coder. But after working there for 2 years, I left that company. The reason was I decided to marry a Vietnamese lady. After marrying her, I decided to live in Vietnam. I did job hunting at Danang Vietnam, then I found Est rouge and started to work at this company.

Could you tell me your role at Est rouge?

At first, I start job as “IT Communicator” role. Est rouge have client in Japan. And from client, we get request of project. Then software developed by engineer in Vietnam.

The role of “IT Communicator” is to mediate between client and engineer. But the difficulty of this role is not only transfer information by interpreting/translating. Vietnam has different culture from Japan. So we have to consider various things to communicate.

From last year, I also have a role of Product Owner. I think this role is similar to Project Manager. The role of Product Owner at Est rouge is to take responsibility of project. Recently I involved to 4 projects.

Est rouge has about 20 Product Owner, but almost is Vietnamese. Japanese Product Owner at this company is only 2 people, me and Nomura-san.


Could you tell me your strength which acquire through work at Est rouge?

I think my strength is effective communication in cross-culture.
I define communication as the following.
- Can understand what the person talked
- Can tell the idea which understand
- Can confirm that the person understand the idea or not

When I talk with Japanese, I can understand ambiguous expression by context. But in cross-culture, this communication doesn’t always go well. Culture and values are different, also stance of communication is not the same.

At Est rouge almost communication will do through Slack. So I always attention to clarify by sentence.

Usually I communicate with member with English. When I describe English, I choose easy words. This is effect for client and team to make meaningful sentences when I use Google translation. And this will help to break down barriers of communication between client and team.

What is necessary to active at Est rouge?

I think the important thing is balance of “skill”. Est rouge is an IT company, but to be active in this company, it’s necessary not only IT knowledge but also the ability of communication and English.

There are many chances to communicate with people from different countries. That’s why I think skill balance of communication and English, IT knowledge is important to be active.

If part of them is lacking, progress of project will be delayed. When I feel weird, I must confirm to team. If we don’t discuss and resolve the small issue when it’s small, later it will be big and issue will be difficult to handle.

At this company, have to communicate not only Japanese. Balance of knowledge/ability is important.
On labour market in the near future, there are many chances to work with cross-culture member. Thus the balance of skill will be important to work in a global.

What is your ambition as business man?

My dream is to work in a global, regardless of Japan or Vietnam. Est rouge provide me the best environment to be my step closer to my dream.

Now I knew 2 countries culture, Japan and Vietnam. But except those countries I still don’t have enough experience on business.

In the future, probably cross-culture team will born gradually at many companies. I want to take role as Product Owner at cross-culture global team.

How was your impression of Global CEO Mr.Nomura?

When I first met him at the interview, I felt he is a wise person. And I sincerely thought that I want to be like him.

The way to think is logical, and he can comprehend where is the problem to be resolved is hidden. He is being dependable from both client and also in the office. Sometimes I heard Mr.Nomura is scary from the part of Vietnamese members :)

Company has about 100 staffs. And I think it’s not especially special behave that he been strictly to control situation.

Comprehend the essence. I think this ability of him, help to comprehend not only project issue but also comprehend human nature. He clarify what is lacked as business man. For both Japanese and Vietnamese person.

Before, he pointed me out, and it impacted me.
At some project I joined, when I communicate with client, I just transfer information to client from developer. I talked like someone else’s problem “He said that ...“. Mr.Nomura mentioned that communication will lose trust from team, also client. And that is the worst way to communicate.

He told me that if you are Product Owner, you must take responsibility for words you speak, you and your team act as one. I was noticed by him that I must tell in words of my own as my responsibility and I also part of team.

What is the attraction to work at Est rouge

I think nobody took experience like me.

I heard that only 400 Japanese are living in Danang Vietnam.
Normally, I don’t meet with Japanese person at work here. Friends and coworkers are all other countrie people. And I am working in an environment which difficult to depends on other Japanese person. At first 3 months after I moved to Danang was tough for me. Because I have to communicate with English and also do meeting with English. But this experience made me strong and confident.

Recently I saw news that person who come from other countries is acting at Japan. For example, “Mercari, Inc.” hired 32 engineers. In the near future, like this case will increase not only in Japan but also around the world. Especially, like engineers or creator, the job which is insufficient in the world, the idea of “global team” will be expanded.

If been like that, cross-culture communication with English will be necessary. And I think the experience of Product Owner will be valuable.
Est rouge is the only one company to takeable experience which like I talked. This is the reason why I think this company attractive.

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