CareerFly Haniu (H): Today, I would like to ask Kato-san, the representative of Diverta Co., Ltd. a cloud CMS (RCMS) that continues to evolve.
Thank you for this opportunity.
Mr.Kato Diverta(hereinafter Mr. Kato): Likewise.
H: There are many Q&As on your company’s website, but according to that, I saw that you are from Brazil!
Mr. Kato: Yes. I was 5 years old in Rio de Janeiro because of my parents’ work. I remember that the beach was so hot that I couldn’t walk barefoot, but other than that, I don’t really remember much. (Lol)
H: I see! Is Diverta’s company name also comes from the Portuguese word for “fun”?
Mr. Kato: That’s right. I feel very close and sympathetic to Brazil. When I was little, it seems that I was bullied because I came from Brazil, but I was so proud of being from Brazil that I didn’t care much about it. (Laughs) Brazil is a part of my identity.
H: I see! So positive! Is rugby also the same?
I saw that the starting point for your company’s RCMS was the club activity website created during the Waseda University rugby club era.
Mr. Kato: I was invited to play rugby by chance in junior high school. I continued to play rugby until college.
H: It’s a fateful encounter! What do you like about rugby?
Mr. Kato: There are many things to think about it now that I think about it. At that time, it was fun to hit, and pass by simply using your body, and it was fun to be able to play by making good use of your strength too.
Some people have their strengths and weaknesses, but you can make the most of it while playing Rugy. For example, I wasn’t so fast, but I used to come up with other ideas to be better at Rugby.
H: While playing rugby, you have participated in making the homepage at the same time.
Were you good at programming originally?
Mr. Kato: No. I was a mechanical engineering major in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and my school grades were really bad. (Laughs) I was interested in various things and did a lot of things, but I didn’t go to class very often. It all started by self-study.
H: Wow! So did you self study programming?
Mr. Kato: Yes. Actually, I was looking to do some part-time job for a moving company because the pay was good.
Then, next to the ad, there was a part-time job ad with an hourly wage of 3000 yen. That was a part-time job of programming. I thought, it’s like a job that you can do from your room, why not! (Lol)
Also, a part-time job at a moving company was ¥10,000 in 8 hours, but if you sit here for 4 hours, you can earn ¥10,000. I had never programmed anything, but the word “Excel” I saw on the job ad, so I made a phone call to adjust the interview and went straight to the bookstore to study.
When I went to work after learning a little from there, I was surprised because they have praised me. I thought maybe I have talent in it and continued the part-time job ever since.
H: Great action! Because of that, the homepage of the rugby club was created too right?
Mr. Kato: Back in 1997, it was not natural for sports teams to have homepage. It was a time when first-year college students learned things like “what is an email address?”
So I decided to make a homepage with my classmate, and first made a homepage for the same grade of the rugby club.
Then, we began to make our own school year’s grades, and the homepage of the club activity got disorganized. When I graduated, there was a problem of how to manage the HP in the future, so I decided to make one official homepage combined.
H: I see. Is the current website of Waseda University’s rugby club created by you?
Mr. Kato: The design part is different, but the back system is.
There is also information on it about history of 100 years worth of players.
H: (Seeing the player profile) Mr. Kato, you are a member in the 82nd year! Looking at the faculties of other members, I noticed that there were few science departments.
Mr. Kato: There aren’t any. There were 1-2 students in science department at each school year. So I did the HP system part by myself. I also managed the server myself, and at that time I used ASP and now SaaS.
Then, I had received a request to make other rugby clubs and clubs of other competitors, so I started making them too. That was the origin of RCMS.
H: Great. Your journey started off from job ad and started programming and became an IT Engineer.
Mr. Kato: That’s right. As for my part-time job, there were almost no lessons in the 4th year, so I was invited by a friend to help launch ikkyu.com together.
Since it was a start-up, I made the web system part , but even though I was a part-time job, I called the hotel manager and did pretty much also everything too. (Lol)
At that time, the phone charges were fixed after 11:00, so it was live from 11:00!
After that, I was invited by Softbank to join as a part-timer and became an employee about four months after my graduation. Although I was a new graduate, I joined the company mid-career and was said to have the highest salary in the company at the time. (Lol)
H: Yes, well you did work before you joined the company. (Laughs) Did you plan about entrepreneurship from that time?
Mr. Kato: No, not really. My boss at the time was a former recruiter, and he always talked about the successful stories and much proud of it, so I once tried doing sales because I thought it would be useful in the future too (Lol)
H: Your perspective is so wide! (Laughs) So why did you decide to start a business?
Mr. Kato: Actually, I was making RCMS for sports teams all the time in private. I wanted to concentrate on this, so when I consulted with the company about commercialization, there was no good reply, so I started a business. After that, when I had a meeting at the company, I was the youngest. I learned a lot. But after a few years of joining the company, it became much obvious. I thought it was time to move on and start the next stage.
H: I see. Softbank was not useful… (laughs)
How did it look like in the early days of your company?
Mr. Kato: I’m not so good at getting people involved and doing something, so I started by myself. After that, the referral of my acquaintances and friend gradually became employees which influenced the number of employees.
H: I see. By the way, you currently have several international employees, but who was your first international employee?
Mr. Kato: My first international employee was a student intern four or five years ago. One of the three people was accepted to join our company. After that, an acquaintance of the employee joined the company, and the number of international employees has gradually increased.
They couldn’t speak Japanese at all, but by working together, I found that we could somehow work so then I decided to hire anyone who can speak English if they are excellent and skilled.
H: It’s rare for the first employee to join and they spoke no Japanese! Were there any repulsions or concerns from the company at that time?
Mr. Kato: Yes. However, there is no point in being repulsed. (Laughs) The IT industry has no future without going global. I used to say that in-house all the time. If the company wants to go global, this side (Japanese) needs to go globally as well.
Therefore, I think it’s better for Japanese people to match their international coworkers, rather than to match have them match to Japanese. We have such a system in our company.
H: What kind of system is it?
Mr. Kato: First of all, English education for Japanese people is needed. For example, last year, we trained two-thirds of our employees to use English, almost like an English marathon, where they had to study English using apps and Skype for dozens of hours in half a year. Also, there are actually people who can speak English. We actively encourage such people to communicate with international employees. We also have discussion time with our international members at English Cafe which is covered by the company expenses, during working hours. I have private lessons from 3-4 days a week. Thanks to that, I started getting up early. (Lol)
Since we hire excellent international members, it is an environment in which it is almost like an incentive for Japanese members to ask questions and engage with international employees who have various knowledge and skill. In this way, we are creating a system that enables internal communication in English. At our company, it is very good that we can speak English. There is no problem in not being able to speak Japanese.
Perhaps many companies struggling with the language regarding international employees as a cheap labor force. If international employees as if they were helping a Japanese person, Japan’s salary level is not high in the first place, so no suitable and excellent people will come to your company.
International people are the same “people” like us. That is why corporate philosophy and communication are of the utmost importance regarding hiring.
H: Certainly. If the company wants to go global, it makes sense for the company to create an environment where it can speak English and work with international members. But have you had any difficulties with working with international people?
Mr. Kato: Basically, it’s not so difficult because I have the same international nationality. Even the often-proclaimed problem of long vacations can be proposed from a few months ago. Same as maternity leave. There is no problem because you can coordinate tasks and schedules with each other in advance.
To tell the truth, communication was difficult before I knew these things. In the past, when I had requested a task for our offshore team in India, the result was not satisfying for me even though they are very good at their job. I actually asked them why they had written this source code like that. The answer was from them was this. It was the most important thing to provide what the other party asked for as quickly as possible.
When I told the other party that it was important to write clean code that was easy to understand, rather than speed at Diverta, then the clean code came up the next time.
From this experience, I found that it was simply a matter of communication, not culture. From that point on, I valued communication, and the output of international members improved significantly.
H: What’s the important key to communication?
Mr. Kato: First, don’t give up. Communication forms without giving up, always also assuming that you are the same person.
After that, I draw a picture. (Laughs) Somethings are still quite difficult to convey in words.
Even Japanese people may not be able to communicate with each other. Therefore, I try to convey not only the text but also by picture so that I can have them imagine the same thing that is in my head.
H: I see. Visual sharing is simple and reliable.
Mr. Kato: However, communication is still important. We have introduced a reading test in the hiring process. No matter how much skill you have or how good your mind is, you cannot do anything without the reading ability.
H: I agree. What would you like to do with CareerFly in the future, along with the talented members from all over the world?
Mr. Kato: First, we aim to succeed in North America. This is not only for RCMS, but also for AI services scheduled to be released within the year. We are also making our services global so that we can succeed in a big global market.
H: What are your plans for recruiting your personnel in the future?
Mr. Kato: I would like to continue hiring excellent people in the future. Since it is a company, I hope that I can enjoy and work together firmly. We will continue to hire employees regardless of nationality, but the important thing is whether or not they understand the corporate culture and philosophy. That point is more important than ever. To that end, we have created a “Diverta Way” and are using it to disseminate our philosophy.
It is often said that international people do not understand Japanese culture, but I think that no one can really describe Japanese culture. In many cases, corporate culture and Japanese culture are mixed.
People with any cultural background can work well together if they can properly separate the Japanese culture and the corporate culture.
H: Certainly! By the way, in your company’s corporate culture, “Diverta Way,” there is an impression that “fun” and “correctness” are at the center. What kind of thought did you put in each way?
Mr Kato: “Fun” is defined as “satisfying intellectual curiosity.” I myself enjoy working, and when I wondered why it was fun to know what I didn’t know.
However, having fun together is not “fun” at our company. I felt the same when I was in the rugby club as well. I’ve enjoyed the various discoveries that I made at the rugby club that was more fun for me.
While having my own company, I found that there were many people and companies that do not do fair work. I never want to be that kind of person or company, so I put Correct.
On the other hand, if you declare that you will do the job correctly, communication with the other person will be smooth, unnecessary work will be reduced, profits will be easy to make, and the results are only good and positive.
I also liked Google’s corporate philosophy of “Do the right thing,” so I put “correct” in the corporate philosophy.
H: Very simple and easy to understand! Finally, at last please give a message to companies that are thinking of hiring foreign members in the future.
Mr. Kato: When are you going hire international people? It’s right now! (Lol)
The most important thing for international people to hire is that the manager needs to take responsibility and start hiring!
Rather than looking for skilled people in Japan by paying high costs, don’t you think it is much effective and better to have a pool of excellent human resources from the world?
Then hiring the excellent candidates and the company can use the money they were originally going to spend for the recruiting fee, they can use it to educate Japanese nationals for English skills. As a result, the company will be able to succeed in global environment with the most skilled employees. What is the demerit of that?
For me, I don’t really understand why we do not hire international people.
H: learned that if you can work while sharing one corporate culture without giving up communication, any company can do CareerFly with international people. Thank you very much.
Please continue to acquire talented people from all over the world!
We will be happy to help you in the future.
Diverta Co., Ltd. Representative Director Kato and Career Fly Tomomi Haniu
Interview with Kenta Kato, President of Diverta
Born in 1976. Graduated from the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University. While at university, participated as a founding member of “ikyu.com. Joined SoftBank Group in 2000 after graduating from university. At the dawn of the Internet, he was involved in the planning, construction, and operation of a car accessories sales site, as well as the strategy, planning, system design, and development of a career change advisor matching site. He left the company in 2004 and started working as a sole proprietor. In the following year 2005, he established Diverta and became the representative director.