Sawa is Vice Manager of the Group HR Department
I am in charge of human resource operations for Rakuten Group for both Japan and overseas; in particular, planning and operations for long-term incentive programs such as compensation, retirement and stock options. For the first time, stock options will be granted to overseas group companies through Rakuten Group, Inc., and as a result, we receive many inquiries regarding this new system. Taking into account the market and the compensation circumstances in each country, I am constantly striving to create an environment in which executives and employees can easily understand the appropriate and acceptable compensation schemes for themselves and to increase the level of satisfaction among Rakuten employees around the world so they can work with a sense of fulfillment and contentment.
My previous job was also in human resources, but at a game company. I joined as a new graduate, where I worked for one year at the head office, creating and managing the human resources budget. I was then transferred to a new business under the company, where I was in charge of back office operations, which covered everything from HR to accounting, legal and general affairs, building the system from the ground up. The reason I changed was to gain international experience. I have wanted global experience since I was a student, but it was difficult at my previous job, so I decided to join Rakuten. Colleagues at Rakuten taught me everything about the compensation system, which I had no previous experience in. I am now able to enhance my professional skills in a global arena, which is very fulfilling.
I work with not only domestic and overseas HR personnel, but also with a variety of specialists, including executives, and specialists in finance, tax, legal and general affairs. For example, when we negotiate compensation systems overseas, we ask our lawyers to confirm the terms and conditions in advance and then incorporate them into our negotiations. I am also learning about the tax, legal and human resource systems of each country. I find it reassuring and instructive to negotiate in an environment where I can get multifaceted opinions from highly experienced specialists. I feel that this is the appeal of Rakuten’s corporate culture: you can attain knowledge efficiently, and at the same time, the opinions of younger employees are respected.
In the future, I would like to be able to handle a wide range of human resources tasks, including recruitment and planning. I believe I can make more accurate judgments if I have an even broader perspective, even when handling a single field. Therefore, I want to gain more experience in domestic and international HR and continue to deepen my knowledge. My immediate goal is to have the knowledge to talk about the compensation system in Silicon Valley on equal terms with HR overseas. I am currently learning about trends and terminology from a compensation specialist in the U.S. and aim to become HR professional who can strongly support Rakuten’s global expansion.
What do you like about the working environment and systems at Rakuten?
I like the in-house hair salon because it is convenient for me to have my bangs trimmed during lunch.
How many people are currently in your department and what is the ratio of mid-career hires?
There are eight of us, and the ratio of mid-career hires is about 60%.
How do you spend time on your days off?
I have two dogs, so I spend most of my time with them, but since I don’t exercise much during the week, I make an effort to exercise by going to the gym or hiking.
*The affiliation and contents of the article are based on the contents at the time of the interview.
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