November 17, 2021
【Yaraku-Jin】The YarakuZen development team is a treasure house of diversity - From a South African engineer's point of view, what is the appeal point of Yaraku?
The fourth volume of "Yaraku-Jin", a series that focuses on the people surrounding Yaraku and YarakuZen, will introduce Wernich Baumgarten.
He is one of the applications developers at Yaraku.Inc.
Application Developer Team
What brought you all the way to Japan?
Programming x Japanese = Yaraku
Q: I heard that you are from South Africa. What is your hometown like?
I was born in Paarl and grew up in Malmesbury, South Africa. The town is located in the countryside which is an hour away from Cape Town. There are eleven official languages in South Africa, and the common language is English.
I spent 21 years in my birthplace before I came to Japan. The climate is great over there and it is easy to spend all year round except for the really hot summer days. When I first came to Japan, the humidity was so high that it was hard to adapt! I have been used to it lately, but maybe that is just because I have been spending a lot of time at home these last 2 years.
Q: What attracted you to Japan?
When I was little, I loved video games, and as I played them, I wondered how games were created. This is how I became interested in programming as well. So I wanted to be a game creator, and in university I majored in computer science and studied math and programming. On the other hand, watching Japanese anime sparked my interest in the Japanese language, and I started to teach myself on a Japanese course channel on YouTube, which was really interesting! I had always been interested in Asian culture and architecture so the more I researched about Japan, the more I became interested in actually visiting there.
By the way, the first Japanese movie I saw was "Your name".
Q: How did you find Yaraku at first?
After graduating from university in South Africa in December 2018, I started to search job listings based in Japan on the Internet, while working as a freelance engineer, building business software and apps for local companies. I was interested in Yaraku partly because I had always liked languages, but most of all because the team had diversity and was dynamic in terms of nationality and backgrounds, and I could see that everyone seemed to be enjoying working with responsibility. So I decided to join Yaraku, and in 2019, I moved to Japan and joined the company in April.
There are so many different ways to work at Yaraku. Our employees do not always live in Japan. The development team previously had members living and working from Ukraine and the US, and our natural language processing (NLP) team has members living in Brazil, Germany, and India. We also have many mothers who are raising their children. Cooperating with each other by coordinating the time to fit each other, this is the style of Yaraku. I think flexible work rules are great that allow parents to spend as much time as possible with their children and work from home and abroad.
Of course, there are many challenges in this way of working, but we overcome them by taking care of each other and communicating closely. For example, regarding the time difference. If you have a question for someone on the other side of the world, you can send it to them when you finish working and they will give you an answer by the start of the next morning. We also do not micromanage the development process. As long as everyone is clear about each other's tasks and can work on their own, they can complete their tasks without too much supervision.
The diversity we experience every day at Yaraku
What breaks down the barriers of nationality and remote work - It's communication
Q: Please tell us about your business.
If you have an improvement or development request, anyone can submit it to the development team, regardless of department. Basically, developers start with high-priority requests, but we can freely choose tasks, for example, if someone finishes a tough task and things are relatively calm then they can choose a comparatively easier task afterwards.
Q: When do you feel rewarding and fulfilling while working at Yaraku?
I feel a sense of accomplishment when I complete a task, especially when I finally finish a task that was difficult and took a long time. At Yaraku, I can get immediate feedback from the customer support team, which is very motivating. It's great to hear directly from customers. The words like "This new feature is great!” make me think, "I made his day better!" - I'm happy that the service I developed is helping someone!
Q: Are there any difficulties in working in Japan?
Unlike most Japanese companies, the common language at Yaraku is English since we have members from all around the world with many different backgrounds. I think the biggest barrier for foreigners in Japan is language, but for us that is not a problem at all. So for me, I think the difficulty of working in Japan is not because of the company, but adapting to the language and lifestyle.
However, I often miss the typical South African BBQ dish, Braai. I still have not found a South African restaurant in Tokyo, so I go out and enjoy yakiniku instead, even though it is quite different...
Q: Isn't it difficult to have great teamwork with diverse members?
Actually I think that is the reason for our great and smooth communication. Since our members from all over the world are speaking in their second language, I feel that everyone is aware of avoiding misunderstandings and striving to understand each other's opinions.
Almost all members have different backgrounds. Although our fields of study and educational backgrounds are similar, we have different cultural backgrounds, so it is interesting to see how we can come up with different solutions to a single problem. There is a lot to learn from team members, not only in development skills such as programming, but also in interpersonal relationships and time management. The exchange of opinions is always open and active, so I think we are communicating really effectively.
Both YarakuZen and myself are evolving!
Q: What is the best thing about YarakuZen from a developer's point of view?
YarakuZen has a powerful engine and a wide variety of useful functions, yet the user interface is simple and user-friendly. From a more insider perspective, I'm proud to say that each and every one of our developers is putting their best foot forward on this development. We do not just work to get the task done, we fix problems whenever possible and always aim for higher quality and accuracy in our features. That is why YarakuZen continues to evolve as a useful tool, and I'm proud to say that we have been able to significantly reduce the amount of time that users spend on translation.
Q: Lastly, what are your goals for the future?
Personally, I want to learn more skills and improve myself. I know this can be achieved at Yaraku. I want to step out of my comfort zone more and more to improve my development skills and take on more challenging tasks. I originally wanted to develop games, but I’ve come to love and enjoy creating service apps, and I want to keep improving and making services that make people’s lives easier.