A Japanese born in Mexico, and grew up in LA, Edward Senju recently got appointed as Regional CEO, by Sansan Inc. (Sansan). He was one of Sansan’s first employees in 2009, where on the finance team he worked on projects including the company’s seed funding round. Now in his new role he will be responsible to drive growth of the firm in Singapore and ASEAN and expanding the Singapore headcount and regional client.
Senju has more than 15 years of experience and has also worked with Oracle Japan before joining Sansan. In Sansan, he has been through the entire journey from building its foundation to now expanding and scaling its business. In an interaction with Senju, we discussed with him how businesses can strive for and ensure sustainable business growth as they scale up and navigate their way through the rapidly changing world of work. He also shared how crucial talent management is when it comes to ensuring sustainable business growth and building high-performance organizations that not only survive but thrive.
Born in Mexico, grew up in LA, educated and worked in Japan, followed by India and now Singapore, you have lived and worked in many countries and regions. Based on your diverse experience, how do you think the world of work is changing?
We are entering a new era of work. Businesses across the region are facing the challenges of a global marketplace, where staying competitive is imperative and growth is a must. To add to this, new technologies are disrupting the way work we work and giving rise to the demand for new behaviors in the workplace. We see three main factors driving this shift from Sansan’s perspective:
AI and automation are now a business imperative for organizations
As more and more companies embrace digital transformation, automation of routine work is driving up employee productivity and delivering business value. One of the key factors driving Sansan’s growth is the trend in digitalization seen for both small and larger enterprises in the region.
Connectivity is changing the workplace
By connecting co-workers through technology, companies can enable speedy communication and help foster relationships, leading to improved efficiency. Every person you connect with inside or outside the organization is an encounter that can spark innovation, ideas, and collaboration.
Employees’ style of work is no longer traditional but networking is still relevant
Standardized workplace dynamics are becoming a thing of the past. And so are traditional roles and ways of working. The exchange of business cards and networking though, which is classified as a traditional tool, is still an effective introductory meeting practice and will continue to stay relevant.
How do you think businesses can cope with the rapidly changing world of work and ensure sustainable business growth?
To gain a competitive edge and grow sustainably, businesses need to think ahead. They need to embrace technology, nurture out of the box ideas and enhance employee capabilities. But as we move further into this digital age, we must also not forget that human connections and relationships are key to new possibilities and innovation.
For businesses, increasing the efficiency of routine processes has assumed greater importance. According to a PERSOLKELLY survey, 41 percent of APAC workforce expect their companies to increase investment in automation or AI, which indicates the confidence companies have in technology to support business growth. Unsurprisingly, the digitalization of companies and their processes is expected to grow significantly. This is why we have also enabled our services with technology and keep upgrading it time and again.
Lastly, in a world of work that is dynamic, staying nimble will benefit businesses too.
How crucial is talent management when it comes to ensuring sustainable business growth and building such high-performance organizations?
Talent management is the key to unlocking business potential, especially for a firm looking to scale like us. Hiring the right talent, retention and employee motivation are three key focus areas for us.
For us the focus is on hiring, nurturing and retaining the employees who are aligned with the company’s mission which we believe is a must to achieve superior team performance.
As an advocate of diversity and innovation, what role do you think these two elements play in creating high-performance organizations?
Diversity triggers new ideas and innovation, which support the creation of high-performing organizations. Mixing people with different thinking styles, habits and perspectives leads to innovative ideas to keep up with a rapidly changing environment across geographies. While I was in India for Sansan, we flew down Japanese engineers to join the India team to facilitate the exchange of ideas that led to product enhancements to suit the local customer needs.
While in Japan, accuracy was a customer priority, in India speed was – through this collaboration, we were able to innovate to offer both accuracy and speed for the Indian customer.
How do you as a leader promote the culture of diversity and innovation in your organization?
At Sansan, we have carved our own unique culture.
Since our inception, we have given our company its “Katachi”, which we continue to evolve as we grow, by renewing our principles. This flexibility enables us to adapt to different cultures as we look at expanding in the region.
It is important to provide a happy, healthy and safe workplace, where everyone can bring their whole selves to work and express themselves. At Sansan, we encourage employees’ new perspectives, ideas, and suggestions across levels and teams. If employees do not feel connected to your company, they are rarely innovative. Thereby, we encourage clear and straightforward communication, to keep them informed of the company’s vision and challenges and enable them to voice their inputs.
With the new role to lead the business as Regional CEO, what would be other talent priorities as you look to scale Sansan Global in ASEAN?
To boost our growth in the region, our focus is to hire talent that enhances our capability as an organization and cultivate a highly efficient team motivated by our company’s mission of “Turning encounters into innovation”.