A Japanese tech venture looks overseas: Conversations with global engineers at BizReach.

6 min read

Today we’re putting the spotlight on BizReach, one of Japan’s most successful tech startups. An industry leader in HR technology in Japan, BizReach is renowned for its products that match job seekers up with employers and vice-versa. They have expanded to over 1300 employees in their 12-year history, and are now more focused than ever on hiring top tech talent from overseas.

We paid a visit to BizReach to hear six of their engineers’ thoughts on relocating to Japan, working at BizReach, and the company’s promising future. If you’ve ever thought about pursuing opportunities in a new frontier for tech, then check out this interview.

Here’s a brief introduction to the engineers, and what the interview covers:

  1. Stefan and Robert: What led you to Japan and BizReach?
  2. Dat and Connie: BizReach’s tech
  3. Xiaqing and Tapan: Life at BizReach

Part 1: What led you to Japan, and to BizReach? with Stefan and Robert

Profiles
Stefan Meier: Vice President of Engineering & Engineer Manager at Stanby
Robert Devlin: New graduate engineer, currently in training

Introductions

Stefan: My name is Stefan, and I’m from Switzerland. I came to Japan in September 2015. At BizReach I’m working in the Stanby search engine division as Engineer Manager, and I’m also the Vice President of Engineering at the company.

Robert: I’m Robert, originally from California. I just joined BizReach this past April and am in training at the moment as a new grad engineer.

Why Japan?

Stefan: Japan is very similar to Switzerland in many ways: very high standards for quality and they’re both really safe countries with beautiful nature. However, the Japanese have a very particular sense for perfection that is also reflected in the culture and the language. That always intrigued me and I felt that I could learn a lot from working and living in Japan.

Robert: I lived in Japan for a couple of years as a kid, so I had some Japanese language ability. It has always been important to me not to lose that. So I really felt a calling to come back here to reconnect with Japan and also work at a company where I could fulfill my career goals. I think that combination is helping me become a better engineer and a better person.

Why BizReach?

Stefan: I first came to Japan for my master’s thesis at Chuo University. After I went back to Switzerland, BizReach reached out to me. I was surprised that BizReach was actually trying to hire foreigners and that they were interested in my profile. It also struck me that there were several open source contributors here, so I became aware of the high technical level. From there, I became more and more interested until I thought, “it’s now or never, so I’ll take on this adventure.”

Robert: Since you’ve been here, how have you seen BizReach grow and develop?

Stefan: When I first came to BizReach, there were only a few foreigners, which was a great opportunity for me to learn about Japanese culture. Now, we have grown and brought in more foreigners. Therefore the mindset has changed inside the company, which makes the company more diverse and allowing different viewpoints that lead to even better results. The current environment certainly makes it easier for foreigners getting familiarized with Japan and getting used to the Japanese culture.

I remember that we first met in Silicon Valley. There are so many famous American companies there, so why did you choose BizReach over them, other than the desire to come back to Japan?

Robert: First, BizReach is competitive in the global market. I think we have an advantage because of the speed and scale at which we’re operating. Second, I think that working from a global perspective really propels us ahead in an increasingly global market with users all over the world. Finally, I think that Japanese culture places a lot of value on teamwork, collaboration, and commitment to one another. I think that’s really powerful for a team. So for me, those are the three main reasons why BizReach is in a great position and why I chose to come here.

Since you’ve been here for a while, I’m curious to know, What do you think are BizReach’s greatest strengths?

Stefan: We are a Japanese company with a strong market position in Japan and growing fast. The fact that we have strong engineers and good products is compelling. Also, we have people who speak both Japanese and English. It’s interesting for foreigners to come here and actually be able to contribute to a company that has traditional values, but also strong technologies, and is a leader in the market.

Part 2: BizReach’s Tech with Dat and Conny

Profiles
Dat Nguyen: Senior Machine learning engineer at the AI team
Hong-Ni Koo (Connie): New graduate at the AI team

Introductions

Dat: I’m Dat, from Vietnam. I came to Japan in 2004 for my Master’s degree at Tokyo University. Altogether I’ve been working in Japan for over 10 years, and BizReach is my third company. Currently, I’m working as a Machine Learning Engineer in the AI tech group at BizReach.

Connie: I’m Connie from Hong Kong and I graduated from The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. This is my second company; I worked for a chatbot startup before BizReach. I’ve been here for about a year, and right now I’m mainly working on NLP tasks.

Technology at BizReach

Connie: I’m a Machine Learning Engineer in the AI team, working on a recommendation system. We have millions of jobs and candidates. Based on certain features and attributes of each, we can help both parties find the best match. We’re able to clarify job categories for our automatic job classifier, which works with Stanby, our job search engine. Through my work, I am constantly improving search quality.

Dat: What kinds of technologies are you using in your work?

Connie: I make use of decision trees and mathematical theory for matching, as well as deep learning techniques to classify tasks or create new ones.

What sets BizReach apart?

Dat: Firstly, about the country, I think Japan is changing rapidly. It’s becoming more global, and in the process, the Japanese work style is becoming more quick and efficient. This has made Japan a more convenient and welcoming place for people to work, as compared to the past. When it comes to tech, the government has an ambitious goal to build a super-smart city called Society 5.0, which heavily uses AI, Big Data and IoT technologies. I think there will be even more great opportunities for global talent to work on these kinds of technologies here. I also think that Japanese business has led to great innovations in society.

People here at BizReach like to get involved in new businesses and embrace new technologies. This means you always have the chance to take on new challenges and gain knowledge, no matter whether you fail or succeed in the end. This kind of spirit is rare among Japanese companies.

What is also compelling is that BizReach is growing very fast. We have the talent to continue building new services; so far we have more than 15 services, and there are 4 or 5 that are in the incubation phase right now. Another one of our strengths is the balance between technology and business. All these factors make it a great place to work for global talent.

Part 3: Life at BizReach with Tapan and Xiaqing

Profiles
Tapan: Scala engineer at Stanby
Xiaqing Wang: New graduate engineer from China

Introductions

Xiaqing: My name is Wang Xiaqing, and I’m from Shanghai, China. I joined BizReach in April this year as a new grad. I got my master’s degree from Fudan University.

Tapan: My name is Tapan, and I graduated from IIT Delhi. For my first two and a half years in Japan, I was at Yahoo. I eventually heard about BizReach and became interested right away, so I applied and joined as a Scala engineer in April 2019.

What do you do at BizReach?

Tapan: At BizReach, I’m part of Stanby, a job search platform. Stanby uses many different technologies, such as Scala, Elasticseach, AWS, and GCP. Since the traffic heavily increases, we have to rethink the architecture and bring in new technologies and solutions frequently. This makes Stanby a very interesting place to grow as an engineer.

Currently, I am working on the backend logic related to the advertisement. However, at my previous company, I had worked extensively with open source technologies related to search, such as Apache Solr/Lucene, a knowledge that I can apply very well to my current work at Stanby. Therefore, I am also contributing to many other parts of the search engine.

Xiaqing: Could you walk me through a day in the life for you here?

Tapan: The core time, where people are present at the office is from 10 AM to 4 PM. The working style is flexible and is adapted by each Scrum team, which is composed of about seven people. Every day starts with the Daily Scrum, a 15 minutes long scrum event where each team member shares the progress of the work, current problems, and what needs to be done on that day. After this, we start working on our tasks, either individually or in pair programming.

Xiaqing: As for myself, I am currently completing the new graduates’ training. It is a three months program where senior engineers are teaching the different technologies used in the company. There are also many hands-on sessions and group projects, such as creating an HTTP Server in Java from scratch or using the HRMOS API to create new functionalities. We also have training in big data and ML and get training on how to work in a global team.

What do you like about working at BizReach?

Tapan: For me, something that I like about working at BizReach is that I get personal time for improving my technical skills. If I want to try out new technologies or want to read about technical stuff, I can utilize that time to do so. Not many of the Japanese companies would allow you to do so.

Xiaqing: I haven’t been here very long yet, but I would say BizReach’s strength is in innovation. We are helping people find a new job that is better for them. That is a break from the traditional employment model in Japan where people have to work with agencies and intermediaries. Here at BizReach, we can help people to broaden their possibilities in the job market, find meaning, and improving society. I really think BizReach is a game changer in the industry, and that’s really exciting for me.

I would also add that engineers at BizReach are creating new technology that’s not on the market already. It’s a great opportunity for new graduates to create new projects from scratch. 

 ―Thank you everyone for taking your time today!

・To explore more about BizReach

https://www.bizreach.co.jp/(Japanese Website)

・Coming up BizReach event

⇒BizReach World Wide Hackathon https://job.connectiu.com/en/plus/event/20000163/details/

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