Hello, everyone. I’m @hisahiko, Engineering Office Director. For this article, I wanted to write about the work we’re doing to prepare Mercari’s Engineering Division for the future.
I also wrote an article about how the Engineering Office is working to strengthen our Engineering Div as part of the “Mercari Advent Calendar” project at the end of last year. This article is something like a sequel to that story. I hope it can showcase what we’re currently doing to strengthen our organization.
The Engineering Office established Engineering Office Vision 2022 as our three-year plan lasting from 2019 to 2022. Under this plan, we are working towards achieving our mission of “provide the best employee experience for engineers in Mercari.” I described this plan in detail as part of my last article.
Through our efforts over 2019 and 2020, we were able to make a lot of headway on engineering HR-related initiatives, like our work to revise the hiring process and our introducing an evaluation system for engineers based on our Engineering Ladder. These successes enabled us to take on more hiring and better evaluate our engineers. We believe that while continuing to work towards the goals described in Engineering Office Vision 2022, we need to further upgrade our division for the future, in order to more powerfully push towards the direction that the rest of Mercari Group is heading in.
Let’s take a closer look at where the Engineering Office is focusing its efforts for the future.
A World-Famous Engineering Organization in the Post-COVID-19 Era
Mercari has been working to make its organizations more global since 2017 or so. In order to promote that globalization, the company is aiming to be more broadly recognized not only in Japan, but worldwide. The way people communicate and spread information has changed considerably in the time since the COVID-19 pandemic hit suddenly in the spring of 2020. We decided to turn this unforeseen challenge into an opportunity, and we are now working to create more developer-oriented PR that addresses our situation post-COVID-19.
Making Mercari More Recognized Ahead of Global Expansion
The current Engineering Division at Mercari JP is already quite diverse among Mercari Group, with a considerable number of nationalities represented. As of October 2021, roughly half of the engineers in the Tokyo Office have non-Japanese nationality.
We want to find ways to attract even more talent from around the world, in light of how much progress the division has already made. We are working to make Mercari and Mercari’s Engineering Division more widely recognized worldwide in order to attract more engineers from overseas. One way we are doing that is by increasing the information available to engineers overseas, such as by sharing information in English on our Tech Blog or the Mercari Engineering Twitter.
Information Sharing Post-COVID-19
At the time we wrote Engineering Office Vision 2022, we could never have anticipated the COVID-19 pandemic that would ravage the globe from the start of 2020. While the pandemic’s huge impact made it difficult to implement initiatives like the large-scale offline events we had planned, we were instead able to start streaming the Mercari Gears Lecture Series on YouTube and try working on other new channels for sharing information online. We were even able to invite overseas presenters to speak as part of this series.
It drastically changed the way we work and ushered in a remote working culture that doesn’t require members to come to the office, eventually leading Mercari Group to enact a new work style policy called Your Choice. In fact, more and more people worldwide have now completed their vaccinations, and as the world increasingly returns to offline communication, we have been searching for the next form our communication will take—one that can incorporate both offline and online channels.
Achieving huge goal as a Diverse Organization
A big challenge for us is to build an organization where engineers of different nationalities, speaking different languages, can collaborate more effectively to achieve the company mission.
Engineer Diversity and Engagement
I talked a little about the diversity of nationalities within our organization. In terms of diversity specific to engineers, however, we believe that there are also differences in the way engineers work best and the tech that each engineer is involved with. There are countless talented engineers out there, and we believe that for our organization to grow, we must build an organization that can accept diverse engineers regardless of their individual working styles and maintain high engagement to facilitate collaboration.
We hold the Mission and Values and Engineering Vision and Engineering Principles in high esteem, aiming to achieve them as Mercari and as the Engineering Division, respectively. That’s why we will continue to aim to become an organization where the talented individuals who resonate with those goals can utilize their own working style to fully contribute, regardless of their nationality, gender, or other characteristics.
Over many years, Mercari has created this kind of workplace where English is understood as just another tool for engineers to use—one that allows them to work together on the same team. This has brought about the internationally diverse teams we see today.
As a next step, we are working to flesh out the documentation describing how all of our diverse engineers should approach specific topics, enabling them to more efficiently and accurately align on goals. Examples of these are our Engineering Ladder and EM Role Definitions.
People can often have different ways of approaching engineer evaluation and the role of an EM. They may also interpret them in different ways depending on the situation. That’s why it’s so important to create a shared point of reference for engineers that they can discuss when they feel lost or find differences of opinion with others. Defining those items also means creating opportunities for that discussion.
A Culture Whose Changes Are Always Driven By Members
Just creating the policy or definitions once and never touching them again risks those policies and definitions growing obsolete with time. We try to shuffle Committee membership and regularly update definitions and rules that we created so that they always match actual conditions and our future direction. That’s how we gradually create the mechanisms that enable us to keep the policy and definitions impactful. We refine them by making discussion a key part of updating that content. Those discussions themselves are how we get everyone on board to create the best workplace possible.
Aside from the policies we introduce here, the Engineering Division has tons of points that warrant discussion. We will continue to create mechanisms that allow thorough discussion of organization-wide activities and that enable members to align their understanding on our direction going forward.
A Mechanism to Support Them
Mercari is still hiring, meaning that the number of engineers joining us from around the world will continue to increase. As the number of engineers continues to grow, it will become ever more difficult to share and communicate information. That’s why we are now working to put mechanisms in place to address that challenge.
Creating a Knowledge Base
The Engineering Office is currently working on a project to build a “knowledge base” to act as a platform for gathering necessary info and making those easy to find for engineers. Our approach is not to simply introduce a wiki or another knowledge management tool, but to define types of documentation, design mechanisms appropriate for managing each type, and foster a culture where everyone can easily contribute to sharing necessary information.
Many organizations out there find information sharing to be a challenge, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. We will work to build the kind of mechanisms and culture appropriate to Mercari as it exists right now.
Creating Career Development Opportunities
Our workplace today sees all Mercari engineers contributing to the Mercari mission, wherein they find the motivation to take on new challenges. We want to create a cycle whereby taking on challenging work that contributes to the company mission builds a more exciting career for members, encouraging them to take on additional challenges.
This is one of our goals with Engineering Office Vision 2022, and one which we will continue to pursue. Ideally, we want to create a mechanism that if candidates join mercari, then they can get greater opportunities as engineer.
In this article, I introduced some of the next steps that the Engineering Office is taking to strengthen the Engineering Division. Some of these might still be abstract so that it’s difficult to have a clear image, but I hope this gave you an idea that we are thinking as the division’s overall direction.
Mercari’s business will continue to grow. We need to create the mechanisms that will allow that greater number of engineers to work together. The Engineering Office will continue working to maximize the capabilities of Mercari’s Engineering Division going forward.