Rina Takamatsu, Section Manager, Customer 360-section, Vision & Strategy at Rakuten Symphony, is helping bring the company’s transformative technology to the world. We sat down for a conversation with the Tokyo-based team member, and an avid global traveler, to talk about her telecom journey, what makes life at Rakuten Symphony special and being a role model for women in tech.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey.
I was born in Osaka, Japan and had a normal, happy childhood. I left my home when I was 18 to travel the world. It all started with the exchange program in Canada where I lived for almost a year. Then I lived in Fiji with an Indian family and had the best time of my life. Then I travelled to Philippines, and then to Australia - where I ended up living for 6 years! I moved back to Japan in 2019 and worked at Nippon Electricity Corporation (NEC) on a Rakuten project before moving over to the brand side.
What made you move to Rakuten?
While I was working at NEC, I realized that working as a vendor made taking ownership difficult. Work was often limited to what was stipulated in the contract. I was always eager to learn and help improve the product and so to explore my interests I decided to move to Rakuten.
"While at Rakuten, I heard the phrase, 'the internet is a human right, not a privilege,' and it has stuck with me.... Most of us have had constant and unquestioned access to food, education and mobile networks and so my goal here is to help turn the phrase into a reality for millions globally."
What does a day in the life of Rina look like?
It involves a lot of discussions and meetings throughout the day. I speak with the stakeholders as well as tech, sales and engineering teams to monitor the progress and status of our product development. We also end up speaking quite frequently with potential clients.
Is there a phrase or saying which inspires you to keep moving forward?
While at Rakuten, I heard the phrase, “the internet is a human right, not a privilege,” and it has stuck with me. My travels across the world has made me realize how privileged I am to be from Japan and how a lot of us have taken common services for granted. Most of us have had constant and unquestioned access to food, education and mobile networks and so my goal here is to turn that phrase into a reality for millions globally.
What are your interests outside of work?
Traveling is an extremely important part of my life and I take every opportunity possible to get out and explore. From any early age, I loved meeting new people and understanding different cultures which helped improve my communication skills and gave me perspective.
"Things are very different here and the culture allows and encourages you to take ownership over your work and grow. I have always been challenged and at the same time trusted with great responsibilities."
Apart from that, I like to read. Two of the current favorites are “Range” by David Epstein, a book on developing multiple cross functional skills instead of just specialized knowledge and “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferris, which explores the daily routines and secrets to success of high performing individuals. I also keep going back to the all-time classic, “The Art Of War.”
In terms of podcasts, I like listening to “The Knowledge Project,” a show that features a variety of industry experts talking on topics like cryptocurrency, management, business and more.
"I would like to promote and be a role model for more women to pursue careers in tech. While progress is being made, there is still work to do before we see equal representation in tech, especially in leadership positions for women."
What is unique about Rakuten compared to other environments you’ve worked in?
In most Japanese companies, the hierarchy is extremely vertical and it can be difficult to get recognized for your efforts. Things are very different here and the culture allows and encourages you to take ownership over your work and grow. I have always been challenged and at the same time trusted with great responsibilities.
Finally, what are some of the professional and personal goals you have set for the future?
With Rakuten, I would like to launch multiple networks in different countries. Personally, I would like to promote and be a role model for more women to pursue careers in tech. While progress is being made, there is still work to do before we see equal representation in tech, especially in leadership positions for women. I hope to inspire others just like I was inspired by some incredible leaders growing up.
Interested in joining us on our journey to reimagine telecom, see our current job postings here.