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(日本語訳あり)Working at Soracom as a Bilingual Engineer/バイリンガルのエンジニアの働き方

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Hi! I am Malik Olivier Boussejra (nickname: mariku, from my other name Kimoto Mariku, which is what I am known by in Japan), Engineering Manager at Soracom. As a multilingual speaker (in addition to my native language, Japanese, English, Chinese and more), I’d like to share my experience working at Soracom.

Soracom is a company that provides its platform in more than 180 countries/regions. To build our platform, we have hired and continue to hire people of many nationalities. Most members working in Japan are bilingual, and even members with only conversational level Japanese can work without any issues. Depending on the team, some teams are more inclined to use English or Japanese.

While some teams may discuss Japan-specific topics in Japanese, most technical communication is conducted in English, and most of our internal technical documentation is also written in English.

Our user-facing documentation in Japanese is top-notch thanks to strong communication between engineers, and we are now looking for a proficient Technical Writer to help us do the same for English (contact us if you’re interested!).

To help teams continue working smoothly in both languages, we provide monthly subsidies if you enroll in a language course (Japanese or English, at your preference). 

At Soracom, we are always trying to improve our processes, according to our “Kaizen” leadership statement. During one of such improvements, we had some reorganization in the engineering team in order to improve communication efficiency.

Previously, some members were working almost exclusively in a Japanese environment, and information was often siloed. With this reorganization, our engineers are now using English at work more than ever.

As we are a remote-first company, most of our members can work from anywhere in Japan.

What’s more, this flexibility allows our members to work from abroad from time to time, such as when going home to visit family or when traveling. This is in addition to 20 paid leave days per year (and of course national holidays), meaning members have plenty of days to spend even more quality time with family.

A surprising effect of this is that it can make our engineering team even stronger: When one of our frontend engineers traveled home to the US, we had almost 24 hour coverage for quick bug fixes! As soon as his work day was over, an engineer in the Japanese time zone was ready to take over, and when they finished, our engineers in Europe came online. Of course, for good collaboration, the team needs to stay informed of each other’s schedules and locations, and our “Share Everything You Can” leadership statements (below) encourages everyone to share where they’re working from, whatever fits their workstyle. 

How we work with Leadership Statements

At Soracom, we believe that every member of the Soracom team is a leader. Each member is expected to strive to act according to leadership statements in their individual efforts and in every interaction within their work. Here we are going to describe a few.

Dive Deep

Individual Contributor (IC) engineers do not have a lot of meetings (mostly a weekly iteration meeting and short daily standups), as it is expected that they spend a lot of time concentrating on development and diving deep into code or debugging.
One of our currently open positions for our backend team is a job that consists of precisely understanding the workflow of our partners in order to build scalable Operations Support Systems and Business Support Systems, such as pricing controls, device management, and billing.

Our Technical Product Managers write detailed Product Requirement Documents, and then together with engineers, Project Managers, and other teams, we have several rounds of feedback and refinement to make sure the features we want to develop address the intricacies of the markets where we provide our platform. Finally, our engineers Dive Deep to carefully implement the best solution and help the company grow.

Share Everything You Can

Once an engineer has Dived Deep on a problem or an issue, they are usually expected to share their findings to the whole team. We do this with a TechShare presentation (anywhere from a 15 minute lightning talk to an hour long session), which is an opportunity to Share Everything They Can and transfer knowledge. These TechShare presentations are not limited to just engineers. Everyone is welcome to jump in, ask questions, and learn.

We try to avoid silos as much as possible. With only a few exceptions, all engineers have access to all code repositories. This lets any engineer jump into any code base as needed. We use GitHub CODEOWNERS to keep track who knows what about each repository. This allows everyone to know who to ask for help or for a code review when needed.

Internal communication is done almost exclusively using Slack, and we have many tools and bots integrated with it. By the way, we need a Corporate IT engineer to help us bring governance among all those tools, and we’re hiring!

Develop Dream Team

As Soracom, we always strive to have the best engineers. We always choose the best talent and do not lower the bar. While encouraging to learn new things and experiences, and by giving opportunities to improve, we strive to develop each team member to become successful leaders. Join Soracom and have an impact on a product used in 180+ countries/regions.

― Malik Olivier Boussejra, Senior Engineering Manager, Soracom

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