My Attraction to the Unknown Possibilities of Data Made Me a Data Engineer: Interview with Spencer from Guangzhou, China [Mid-Career]

Hi, this is R-Hack editorial office. Today, let me introduce to you Spencer from China, who newly joined Rakuten Group in February 2023!



Joined Rakuten Group mid-career in February 2023
Department...Commerce Company Business Support Development Department (CCBD)

Post...Data Engineer
Origin...Guangzhou, China
Hobby...Hiking, bowling, photography

Spencer became a data engineer attracted to the unknown possibilities of data. He joined Rakuten Group to pursue his engineering career in a global environment.

Data has great potential to become the source of energy for the economy

――Can you start by introducing yourself?

Hi, my name is Spencer. I work as a data engineer for Rakuten Ichiba. I’m from Guangzhou, China, known as the most gourmet city in China. Many people may be familiar with Guangzhou for the famous saying, “Gourmet begins at Guangzhou”.

Guangzhou is also famous as the “Silk Road of the Sea” and is a historical port in China. My hobbies are hiking and bowling, and I also like to take photos.

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――Please tell us about your career before joining Rakuten Group.

I had always wanted to be an engineer ever since I was a student, so I studied software engineering in university. By studying software engineering, I believed that I could apply the technical knowledge I learned to business. After graduating from university, I went on to complete a master's degree in graduate school for further specialization.

Since I was studying software engineering as an academic discipline, I have learned that by processing and analyzing vast amounts of data, we can make many valuable discoveries that we could not have realized before. From then, I began to believe that data had great potential to become a source of energy for the economy, and I decided to pursue a career as a data engineer.

This is how I started working as a data engineer for a local Chinese company before joining Rakuten Group. At that company, I was involved in digitizing the supply chain domain from procurement of goods to sales, and my role included designing data pipelines and automating tasks that were done manually.

However, as I continued to develop my career as a data engineer, I had come to want to work with more complex and extensive data domains and types of data in order to further hone my technical skills and business acumen. Rakuten Ichiba, operated by Rakuten Group, is one of the largest e-commerce shopping malls in Japan which carries shops and products in a wide range of fields. It seemed like the best place for me to develop my career as a data engineer, so I decided to join Rakuten Group.

To Rakuten Group, to work as an engineer in a Japanese global company

――You mentioned that Rakuten Group seemed like the best place for you to develop your career as a data engineer, but did you have any hesitation about working in Japan?

I had been interested in working in Japan since I was a university student, but I never really had a chance. I was also a bit concerned about my language skills, as I was worried about using Japanese at a business level.

Then, in the course of my job search, I learned that the official language used within Rakuten Group was English. Even though it was a Japanese company, finding out that I would be able to use English and work as an engineer convinced me I would be able to work with peace of mind. There are many global talents working at Rakuten Group for the same reason, and working in such an environment was also attractive to me.

――Please tell us about the work you do in your new team.

Since joining Rakuten Group, I have been involved in a real-time data service using streaming processing to provide information about shops in Rakuten Ichiba to our in-house data analysis team.

This service has the advantage over existing batch processing that enables shorter synchronization intervals with new data, making newer data available to the in-house analysis team. I hope they will be able to create more values with our service. I want to use data to contribute to the economy, to other teams within the company and beyond, to the customers who use Rakuten Ichiba, and to the larger picture.

――How is the team atmosphere?

Everyone in my team is warm and friendly. We can seek help without hesitating to ask, so we are able to support each other when we work. Also, the team is very dynamic with members from all over the world, who are diverse in nationality and ethnicity.

To build a career as an engineer with high technical skills and business acumen

――I know it hasn’t been long since you started working at Rakuten Group, but do you feel there are any gaps before and after you joined?

The office is in a popular area of Tokyo called Futako-tamagawa, which is very attractive, just as I had hoped before joining the company. Actually starting work, I rarely feel a big gap from the image I had before joining the company, but I feel that there are many excellent engineers around me. As a member of such Rakuten Group engineers myself, I would like to keep improving my skills. 

――Are there any episodes with your team members that you can share?

It is thanks to the cooperation of my team members that I can now live comfortably in Japan. The members taught me not only about work-related matters, but also many other tips that a foreigner needs to know in order to smoothy live a life in Japan.

When I first came to Japan, I was unfamiliar with some aspects of working and living in Japan, but now, thanks to the members, I am living without any inconvenience. I am very grateful to have such wonderful team members. 

――Please tell us about your future career plans and what you would like to achieve at Rakuten Group.

I’d like to become an expert in data service and eventually become a manager to lead a team. I also believe that business acumen will be one of the essential elements for engineers in the future.

Even engineers can add extra value on top of their technical skills and further increase their value as engineers if they have a keen business sense and work on improving services. For this reason, I would like to work on developing my business acumen.

――Lastly, can you give a message to those interested in joining Rakuten Group?

I believe there is no more challenging place in the Japanese e-commerce industry than Rakuten Group. Rakuten Group will be a good starting place for those who want to start a new life or career.

If you are an engineer with an inquisitive mind and a desire to grow, I encourage you to apply for selection, whether in Japan or overseas. I look forward to working with you as a member of Rakuten Group. 

――Thank you for the interview.