When SaaS employees are asked about their long-term career goals, many reply: “I want to become a leader of my organization.” However, they often do not know how to navigate the company hierarchy or seek concrete advice on what they should do.

For this reason, on August 2, 2022 Robert Half hosted an online discussion with four business leaders who have climbed to the top of their respective overseas SaaS companies. The panellists shared their thoughts and approaches to a variety of topics—the paths their careers have taken, their goals and visions for the future, and the secret to their success—in a valuable discussion that is available exclusively through Robert Half.

What path has your career taken?

All four panellists now occupy distinguished positions at their respective companies, but was it all smooth sailing for them to get to where they are now? What difficulties and setbacks did they face? Satoru Kumashiro of Qualtrics commented: “There was a discrepancy between the business practices we carry out in Japan and those carried out at headquarters in the U.S., and I faced countless difficulties unique to working at a foreign company in Japan. We discussed the matter thoroughly, and I was persistent in communicating the need to optimize for the Japanese market.” Although the four panellists possess outstanding business skills, their career progression was by no means smooth. Yet, despite encountering various twists and turns, they refused to back away from the issues that confronted them; indeed, they were able to earn the respect and trust of their colleagues precisely because they faced these issues head-on.

What is it that inspires them?

When asked about what motivates these leaders on a day-to-day basis, Box Japan’s Noriyuki Sato replied: “Work is a part of life; life is not a part of work. Making a clear distinction between work and private life, and ensuring you lead a fulfilling private life—this, in the end, helps increase the quality of your work.” Leaders are constantly required to make important business decisions under extraordinary pressure. For this very reason, it is important to ensure they are in a good space mentally and have ample energy, which allows them to maximize business performance as a result.

Interestingly, all four guests were adamant that they had yet to achieve success. It seems truly successful people are never satisfied with the status quo and, instead, are constantly striving to make further progress.


What are your goals and visions for the future?

Morimitsu Miyazaki of BlackLine Japan was responded emphatically: “Our vision is to create a world in which finance and accounting become a management compass for all companies.” BlackLine Japan has defined a corporate mission and identified five core values in order to realize this vision.

Braze Japan’s Masayuki Kikuchi stated with great passion that his company’s goal was to become the leader of the Japanese customer engagement market: “We are working to swiftly realize our global vision of increasing customer engagement through the use of our product.”

Their goals go beyond mere business expansion or meeting budgets. To achieve their company’s vision, they adopt wide-ranging perspectives—from developing the careers of individual employees, fostering a positive corporate culture, to assessing the impact that their company’s technologies will have on Japan as a whole.

What is the secret to success?

To conclude the discussion, we asked each of our guests to provide advice for future Japanese leaders on “the secrets to success.”

Mr. Kumayoshi: “Quite apart from the goals set for you by your company, you must draw up your own targets and continue working to achieve them.”

Mr. Kikuchi: “Interact with and be inspired by as many people as possible; and seize all manner of opportunities to increase your experience.”

Mr. Miyazaki: “Do everything you can to complete the tasks at hand, and so win the respect and admiration of those around you.”

Mr. Sato: “Acquire as much experience as you can while you are young; it is vital that you identify the “blue oceans”—or the unexplored space—in HR markets.”

All our panelists cut straight to the heart of the matter. They will no doubt have provided inspiration to all the attendees who aspire to become leaders of their organizations.

The discussion lasted just 90 minutes, but it proved both interesting and informative. In post-event questionnaires, more than 90% of attendees responded that they were “extremely satisfied”; many of them also requested that we hold these discussions on a regular basis. At Robert Half, we are planning to hold more of these discussions in the future—we very much hope you will attend! Please contact marketing@roberthalf.jp for more information. 

Panelist Overview