Last July, VMware Japan hosted “Japan Field Innovation Days”, an annual in-house event aiming to provide VMware employees with a platform to present their innovative ideas that benefit the VMware community.
We recently interviewed Mr. Motonori Shindo, Chief Technologist Officer of VMware Japan, to talk more about the event – its history, success, and some of this year’s highlights.
VMware Careers: This year’s Japan Field Innovation Days was a huge success…tell us more.
Shindo-san: Yes, the event was indeed very successful. We were glad that there were more participants than expected, which means more creative and innovative ideas I wish there had been more on-site participants, but overall, the success of the event exceeded my expectations.
VMware Careers: What was the primary purpose of this event?
Shindo-san: About a year ago, we launched the VMware Japan Field Innovation Program with the aim of creating innovations from the field in Japan. Several teams were launched from that program, and these teams continued to create innovations through collaborative activities. The Field Innovation Days were created to provide those teams with a place to present the results of their activities after almost a year of working together. This event’s objective and format are like that of VMware’s internal Research and Development Innovation Offsite (RADIO). The main difference is that the Field Innovation Days are not designed to benefit a specific team or department but the entire VMware community.
VMware Careers: What made the team decide that we needed an event like this within the VMware community?
Shindo-san: The VMware Japan Field Innovation Program is similar to the Tech Discovery Program (TDP) in the Solution Engineering (SE) community, where we have the opportunity to explore any topic. The VMware Japan Field Innovation Program is like it in that it allows each team to work on any topic. However, TDP is limited to the SE community and is a short-term program that lasts only a few months. I also wanted to create ideas not only for the Solution Engineers and other technical personnel but for the company as a whole, which is why we launched the Japan Field Innovation Program. We understand that the SE community tends to focus on their sales and other short-term goals, which are very important, but I believe that it is also necessary to take a longer-term perspective and work on various innovative technologies.
VMware Careers: Since there were many teams who presented their innovative ideas, did you give them a presentation format or requirements that they should follow?
Shindo-san: I left it entirely up to the team. We only tried to standardize the format by asking them to prepare a panel, but we did not interfere with the content.
VMware Careers: Our new graduate employees were instrumental in the success of the event. Can you talk more about their role?
Shindo-san: We had a poster session with a panel and booths for each of the participants, but there was some reluctance by people to go there on the day of the event. So we decided to conduct the event like a tour where we go to the booths as if we were conducting an interview while holding a camera. And that’s where we asked our new graduates to help us with the interviews and documenting the event.
VMware Careers: Apart from the significant innovations showcased, what are the other positive outcomes from the Field Innovation Days?
Shindo-san: I think this program has allowed us to collaborate across organizations. People from the SE community, support, and consulting departments came together, and people who usually do not have contact with each other in their work formed one group and implemented their program as a team. I believe this is one of the fantastic results of the project. This year’s event was limited to internal participation. In the future, I would like to collaborate with customers, partners, and possibly educational institutions as well. Also, we limited the event to Japan in order to prevent expanding the scope too much, but from next year onward, we would like to collaborate with other countries in Asia and elsewhere. Fortunately, APJ has two major development centers in China and India, so collaborating with China and India is also an aspiration for the future.
VMware Careers: Sounds exciting; I’m sure the participants would love to work with people from China and India!
Shindo-san: Yes, we are doing similar work with our colleagues from China and India. I think it will be even better if collaboration is born from that common ground. For those of us in the development department, we don’t know much about the field, so we are really looking for input from Japan Field. On the other hand, we don’t have a development department, so not all of us can write code. I think that if we can make up for each other’s shortcomings, we will be able to produce great results.
VMware Careers: Nice! How do you want the event to improve in the coming years? Did you get feedback from the participants?
Shindo-san: We conducted a survey, and based on what we have heard from our participants, the feedback was very positive. We also received some feedback that there was room for improvement in attracting more people to the event. And I agree; I personally think it would have been better if more people had come to the on-site event.
VMware Careers: What do events like the Field Innovation Days say about our company culture? And what message does it send to those who are interested in applying to VMware Japan?
Shindo-san: I think the appeal of this program is that VMware is a company that allows you to think for yourself and do what you want to do. I think it’s good that VMware is doing well as a business and I believe that innovation is born from that success; this innovation leads to product development, these products are used by customers, and that leads to revenue, which leads to the subsequent development and investment in innovation, and that’s a good cycle!
VMware Careers: Lastly, for people who are interested in applying for a technical position, why should they start their career at VMware?
Shindo-san: As you know, VMware originally started with infrastructure virtualization technology, but we have moved up the stack and are now focusing on the application layer. I believe that we are a company that can continue to do new things in the future because there is a common understanding from the top level that innovation is the company’s driving force. I believe that this is a company where people with a wide range of backgrounds can hone their skills.
If you are interested in applying for a technical role at VMware Japan, please click here.