I'm Ahmad Ruiz Bin Mohd Asri (Ruiz Asri)
Finatext Holdings Ltd.
Mechanical engineering Bachelor degree course
I'm Ahmad Ruiz Bin Mohd Asri (Ruiz Asri)
Finatext Holdings Ltd.
Mechanical engineering Bachelor degree course
About Ahmad Ruiz Bin Mohd Asri (Ruiz Asri)
Hi, my name is Ahmad Ruiz bin Mohd Asri but you can call me Ruiz Asri for short. I am from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and I lived in Japan for 6-7 years from 2010 to 2017. Japan compared to other countries have a unique aspect in its culture and I believe you cannot purely experience it if you do not live and experience it for yourself. I came to Japan on 2010 to study Japanese language at Asian Students Cultural Association College (アジア文化協会日本語学校) in Tokyo for a year and a half, then I joined Keio University on the mechanical engineering program.
Until today, although I have been working for several companies with different roles and places, I have been a part of Finatext Holdings Ltd. since I left from Keio. I started my career at Nowcast Inc. (株式会社ナウキャスト) which was a company under Finatext Ltd. (now Finatext Holdings Ltd.) in Tokyo for about 1 year, then I was trusted to set up the Finatext in my home country, Malaysia for almost 2 years and now I am positioned at Finatext UK based in London as a Product Manager.
What did you do during college?
I joined Keio as an engineering student as I have aspired to become one since when I was in high school. Aside from academia, I was active in participating in organizations within and outside of the campus. These activities would be one of the most important aspects of my college life and I would like to recommend students to be involved in as many organizations as possible. The main benefit that I received from joining organizations is the connections that bloomed from the people I met which helped guide me to realize the limitations of focusing on the engineering field. These connections that I created later became a network that would be beneficial to my career path as I knew about internship opportunities, introduced me to different industries, and also my current company. Moreover, It allowed me to sharpen my communication and interpersonal skills because I had the opportunity to interact with different people coming from various backgrounds.
During my 1st to 2nd year in Keio, I was involved with the “Science & Technology Leadership Association (STeLA)”, which was an organization within the university that connected students like myself with brilliant students from Tokyo University, Kyoto University, Waseda University and also students from Europe, USA and China as well. I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a leadership forum at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. Externally, I was involved with the Malaysian Student Association in Japan (MSAJ) which is a community of Malaysian students in Japan that supports student life and career building, and also the ASEAN Youth Network Japan (AYNJ) who mainly acts as an organization that connects ASEAN international students in Japan which also supports career building. Aside from organizations, I also did various internships; one of which is with Finatext and another is with an N.P.O called Zenkoku Machinami Hozon Remmei which basically is an association that combines a lot of townscape groups across Japan.
What I wish I had done during college
I wish I could learn more about Japanese culture and arts, particularly Kendo. Since I did not put more time into it at that time, I think this is one of those things that I wish I had done more. I did have Japanese friends, but perhaps because my apartment is more of an international community apartment, most of my friends come from abroad therefore if I had to go back I would join a Japanese サークル (circle / club) to learn more of the culture and made more local friends.
Career-wise, although I did a lot of internships with different types of companies, tried different roles in various enterprises, I feel that I haven’t learned much depth in other fields especially in the tech field. Just exploring the tech industry itself is very vast and I only was exposed to it when I started to work for Finatext. My company is a fintech company, but there are other tech categories like insurance tech, agrotech, Internet of things (IoT) for example; those things that I never knew before I started to work. So if I had more time on learning this, my career path may just have a different route. At least, having exposure to these things would also help me to make more informed decisions. Nevertheless, I made a good decision to join Finatext and I enjoy it.
What career advice would you recommend for job hunters?
Improve Your Skills More Than Focusing Just on Language
Being polite in Japan is good, but I don’t think it is something that you need to be too focused on. I see many fresh graduates prioritize in improving their 敬語 (keigo) and unpurposely forget that at the end of the day, your career is not determined by how polite you are. Of course, being able to speak in a native level polishes up your profile but language itself doesn’t bring you forward in terms of career or producing something good for your company. Instead, you should focus on your work quality, learning new things in your field of interest, sharpening your social skills as well as other technical work skills such as time management.
Practice Your Communication and Social Skills
If you work in a company with an international environment, which uses English as a communication language, then perhaps having very good Japanese is not your main focus. But if you are going to work for a Japanese company that 95% of the businesses will be done in Japanese, then having Japanese language ability is something that you should focus on. But the thing is, you would not know which company you will join before you actually be a part of that company, and see what the culture is like. So just general communication skills in terms of communicating with your colleagues, boss, the manager will be important for you. In a sense, if you have something that you should say to your colleagues, you should be able to say it correctly in your native language, and then translate it into your second or third language like English or Japanese. One way to polish your communication skills as a student can be as simple as being part of organizing hangouts with your friends and practice conversing with your peers or being involved in organizations with different people. This way you would be able to practice explaining your points across to the person you are speaking with and be accustomed to how people from different backgrounds tend to communicate.
Time Management Skills
Rest is important for your productivity. Although this statement might be different from the common Japanese working culture, it has been proven that being productive does not always mean you have to work for long hours. Much research has shown, working for long hours with less rest is counterproductive. So in my opinion, rest is important to maintain your focus which ultimately correlates with your time management. Managing your time properly will help you in managing your tasks more efficiently in order to improve your quality of work.
What are the beneficial skills needed for working in Japan?
Meet new people, Make new connections
The key message I would like to relay to international students is meeting new people to create connections in order to broaden your horizons. This way you will be able to understand an experienced professional’s life-decision; why did they choose the path they have chosen, how did they get to the point where they are now; Basically, talking with senpais or people who already started their journey before you is really important in order to get the sense of job-hunting as well as preparing for your future.
At the time I was a part of STeLA, I met a lot of people, from bachelors, masters to PhD students from various professional fields and I was grateful to have the opportunity to receive deep insights on their life choices. I learned a lot from them in terms of how they make their decision on life, career path, why they decided to continue master or PhD in overseas, just to reflect on what my possible future path might be.
From my internship at Zenkoku Machinami Hozon Remmei , I met the association leaders from several companies, which perhaps around 40,50 to 70 years old people that have different ways of life than people in my circle (20’s or 30’s years old). Instead of focusing on corporate life, these people are more focused on the community. That helped me realize that I don’t want to only work in a corporate which is money-focused but rather, I prefer to join the group of communities that enjoy the work-life relationship.
Networks are Important for Your Career!
Following up on the previous advice, making connections not only helps you understand what you want to do, but it will also grow as a network that will support your future career. Being a part of MSAJ and AYNJ was very helpful throughout the course of my college life as those organizations not only helped me find opportunities in Japan but also helped the on-boarding process of living in Japan as a freshman. One of my juniors in MSAJ actually introduced me to Finatext which back then was an internship opportunity and now I am here working as a full-time thanks to the introduction. These organizations run mostly on SNS but also hosts senpai meet up events as well as recruitment events. Many recruiters and companies often post openings exclusively in the group which targets specific demographics such as jobs particularly for Malaysian students, Internships for Vietnamese students, and etc.
Moreover, I would like to recommend students if they are interested in contributing more to the association to become a committee member rather than just a regular member. With MSAJ as I was one of the core committee members, I had the chance to have firsthand contact with recruitment firms and companies that wanted to promote in the group and that gave me more detailed knowledge about the positions that they offer, as well as direct connections with the representatives of the firms themselves.
What does a Product Manager Do?
My role as a Product Manager
*Currently working at Finatext UK Ltd.
Finatext UK has a small team with only 10 employees. Currently, I work as a Product Manager but working in a startup company, you should expect for tasks that are beyond your designated role and job title. Like myself, even though my title is product manager, I also handle operations, administration and finance. On a day to day basis, as a product manager I have to know what everyone is working on and make sure their work is aligned with the project plan. Basically, we work in “sprints” in terms of how to deliver certain work/ product to our client within 3 months. We have sprints of 2 weeks, just to let our client know what we are doing or we have done every 2 weeks. If someone is deviated from our sprints target, we have to re-adjust and make sure our sprints target is our main goal. I also need to clearly define the product that we want to create based on client proposals to our engineer. For example, if we want to create an app, then I should ensure the app is clear from the business perspective and is aligned with the business requirement from the client. In general, my job is basically filling the gap between the engineer, marketer and business. In addition, I also coordinate with other offices of Finatext including the main office when we need resources that are not available in Finatext UK as well as updating progress with HQ.
A big part of my job and I think the most difficult part is communicating with the client/ customer. Mainly because sometimes we have to meet clients that do not necessarily understand the process of building the application. Although it is the most difficult, it is also the most important responsibility, to be able to make the client understand what we are doing since at the end of the day we are a software development house. We have to make sure that the client understands the details as well as the scope of operation for their requests, and also fulfilling their demands in the best way possible.
Work Environment Finatext Holdings Ltd.
When I worked for Finatext in Japan, the team only consisted of 30-40 employees, but now we have around 120 members. But even back then, I was surprised when I joined this company for the first time because it didn’t feel like a conventional Japanese company. From how we dress, how we talk to each other. The CEO is a “Hype-man” and a very motivational person. Although my colleagues were pretty casual, everyone pays focus on what they want for the company, understand that there is a certain value that they want for the company like transparency for instance. The CEO also wants the company to be really transparent on all things. With this transparency, he managed to build a culture where people expected to have proper ownership of their work and always try to produce a good quality of work. Since we are a startup, unlike large enterprises we have very limited resources but we hold a big dream and we want to try to produce big things. So everyone trusts each other's work. Moreover, opportunities are not limited even if you are a foreigner. After 1 year of working for Finatext, I was entrusted with the task of establishing our business in Malaysia as the director of the branch. We do not judge people based on their background and we are very open to ideas from every perspective.
Working for Finatext
Again, being a startup company, Finatext welcomes proactive individuals. Proactive in terms of being resourceful, proactive in terms of knowing that you are part of a team and you have to deliver tasks rather than waiting for something to be told. Working in Finatext, everything moves at a fast pace and all employees have the right to take ownership of being a part of the company which also means going the extra mile to figure out what is the best for the team. Having the courage to speak up your mind is also important. One thing that I learned is that a lot of good ideas come from young people as well, not only from seniors. Finatext does not have a hierarchy where younger employees have to listen to what management orders. Here we promote employees to be honest in communication. Meaning, if you think that your thought or your opinion is important for your team you have to speak up. Like I mentioned, the whole team will be responsible for the project and you need to have ownership on the product that you are building. If you think that the team is doing something wrong, you need to be able to share your concern. Everyone's opinion matters.
All of these characteristics are not necessarily a characteristic that you need to have, but at least partially you have and partially you want to improve on or you want to get.
Recommended Job-hunting Resource
Facebook group (Organization) / Career fest that University recommend / Gaijinpot / few forum for job hunting / Looking for recruiter in your origin country