India Strategy Manager Mr. Kenya Yoshino
What kind of work do you usually do?
My task is to think of strategies in order to grow our business in India and put them into action. I work with four people: two local staff and two Japanese staff, including myself.
What was your motivation for joining the project?
It’s been about 30 years since the IT revolution, but programming has not become a common skill yet, and I felt that Japan’s position in the world has been slowly declining over the past 30 years. So, I came across this company because the company’s goal was becoming global with programming, I thought I could make a contribution with my past experience.
Please tell us about the Indian market.
Currently, our main target is Indian university students. While there are so many good IT engineers in India, there are also many students who majored in computer science in college but do not have the skills that companies are looking for. We hope that by learning at Progate, they will be able to alleviate their frustrations and be able to find a job at the company that they want to choose.
What are the strengths of Progate?
The content is easy to understand even for beginners, for people with no experience at all, and the value of the product itself is solid: you can learn programming skills while having fun, like learning while playing a game.
Another advantage of Progate is the use of slides instead of videos, so you can learn at your own pace without being affected by the communication environment like with videos. Progate also offers an app, so you can start learning when or wherever you are by just opening the app. Also, with the subscription model, the initial and monthly costs are quite low, so you can start easily even if you have no experience at all. This has made programming more accessible and easy for beginners, and, I may be exaggerating but I think this has led to the democratization of programming education.
Are there any problems in entering the Indian market?
Many Japanese users start Progate for the purpose of learning itself, but Indian users are more interested in the benefits of using the service, such as whether they can get a job or how much salary they can earn after learning.
There are some differences in user characteristics and needs, so we are currently working on adjusting to these differences.
What are some of the measures you are taking to broaden the audience?
The first lesson of Progate is free, so we would like Indian students to try the free lesson and feel the convenience and effectiveness of the product, so they can start to recommend it to all their student networks.
What is the company’s culture and atmosphere like?
It’s a casual atmosphere. There is no such a thing as being quiet and only listening because the boss says so. We are a company where we can discuss things in a free and open way, having a strong desire to realize our mission and vision.
What do you keep in mind when managing the local employees?
Regardless of the country, each person is unique and has different strengths. For this reason, I pay attention to how to make them feel comfortable using their strengths.
It is important to improve weaknesses to a certain extent, but I believe that it is quite difficult for them to turn into strengths. Rather, it should be fun for the person who is doing something to make use of his or her strengths. I believe that the fact that people feel enjoyment when they are able to utilize their strengths, is universal, regardless of their origin.
On the other hand, there are many differences in the culture so I am constantly trying to communicate in a low-context and carefully verbalized manner.
Do you have any measures to improve the performance of your employees?
Currently, all of our employees work remotely, and Progate has many systems that allow employees to work comfortably even remotely. For example, we have a system called “Free Budget,” which gives each employee the freedom to spend money in order to create an environment where they can work from home.
We also use the Unipos service. It’s a system where members can express their appreciation to each other and they earn points for doing so. These points can be exchanged on Amazon and other similar companies. Unipos makes it easy to express our gratitude for even the smallest things, and it is a very useful tool for creating good communication.
What are some of the characteristics of your employees?
The user’s perspective is very important for me. The members of our team are always thinking about what kind of problem the students can be dealing with, and immediately look for a solution, reflecting this in the product. I think people who can communicate and propose improvements are in line with the company’s philosophy, so they will be successful.
What kind of people are you looking for?
I think it is important to share Progate’s vision of “Empowering everyone to open new doors through programming”, having the desire to help clients and society through business. People who can empathize with users will likely feel a strong sense of contribution and a sense of accomplishment.
That will make the products and services created can be transmitted to the users, and they will be happy to use them. I would love for people with that kind of thinking to join our team.
Do you have a message for our readers?
I started programming when I was 45 years old. In business, being able to program is definitely a plus. For example, if you are in Japan, it is true that you can be hired without speaking English, but the moment you can speak English, you will definitely be able to expand your horizons.The same happens with programming, if you can program, you will be able to understand what engineers are saying, how the internet works, and many other things in the world. It can only be a good thing.
There may be many people who want to do it but they think it’s too late. I want to let them know that it is still possible, they can do it.