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How our Japan Futureforce Grads Paved Their Unique Career Paths at Salesforce

Richa Negi

July 25, 2022

Does the thought of landing your dream job after university feel daunting? We interviewed five employees — who not only launched their careers with their dream organisation, but over a period of time carved out their successful career paths at Salesforce. These grads defied convention, broke new grounds, and paved paths for building their unique careers — making an impact & blazing their trail!

They started their careers as Futureforce grads in Salesforce Japan. Futureforce is the university recruiting program of Salesforce.

Each journey looks different for everyone. For Rena Kaneko, she started her career as a Sales Development Representative and worked her way up to become an Account Executive. Kazuki Hayakawa joined Salesforce as a Solution Engineer and eventually became the first AI specialist as a Product Marketing Manager for Einstein in Japan. Shosei Urata commenced his career in the Sales team as a Sales Development Representative and later moved to Mulesoft as the Regional Lead for MuleSoft Account Development. Yuto Yoshihara, moved teams twice in the last 5 years and has relocated to Sydney this summer as working in a different country has always been one of his career aspirations. And, Kazuki Tokuhisa started his career as an Inside Sales Representative. Then after becoming SDR and BDR, moved to the Sales Enablement team and currently is in charge of training new graduates as part of Futureforce Enablement.

But the one thing that’s common in their journeys is their perseverance to achieve their goals.

Read on for their best advice on how they were able to define their paths at Salesforce, and how you can too.

Rena Kaneko
Account Executive, Commercial Sales

Tell us a bit about your role here at Salesforce!
I joined Salesforce in April 2016 as a Futureforce grad. Now, I’m an Account Executive, in Commercial Sales, in charge of growing companies with 100-200 employees. I’m responsible for promoting Digital Transformation for Japanese SMEs to achieve their business growth and customer success.

What do you enjoy the most working at Salesforce?
I enjoy working with customers on proposals that develop their business strengths. While it is difficult to truly understand their business, it’s important to go beyond the boundaries of just a salesperson and work together with them to realize their visions and goals.

Share a career highlight from your experience!
Last year I achieved my annual goals. My turning point was that I kept challenging myself to interact directly with the customers’ management. “Is this proposal what management expects?” I was able to make the right decisions by keeping myself in their shoes and thinking from their perspective. It was important for me to create multiple opportunities for myself to interact with the management directly.

What advice would you give to students aspiring to join Salesforce in Japan?
Salesforce is a great company with a great culture and offers a variety of growth opportunities regardless of the age or gender.

I encourage you to speak honestly during the interview about the experiences that have led to your growth and the challenges you would like to take on in the future.

Kazuki Hayakawa
Product Management Manager

Kazuki Hayakawa delivering a session on Einstein Keynote at World Tour Tokyo stage in 2019

Tell us a bit about your role here at Salesforce!
I’m a Product Manager on the Einstein Value Framework team under the Product Growth and Adoption team. We provide products for our customers to measure the value of Salesforce Einstein they use, so they trust AI and use our products more. I also support our customers in APAC and EMEA to increase adoption of AI products as an outbound product manager.

What do you enjoy the most working here at Salesforce?
As a product manager, it is so exciting to develop a product with the engineering team, ship the product with the marketing team, talk with our customers to hear their feedback, and iterate on that.

I work in a true work-from-anywhere style as my role requires me to work with people from different time zones — Hong Kong, Israel, Europe, and the US.

Share a career highlight from your experience!
I joined Salesforce Japan 6 years ago as a solution engineer (SE), after graduating from school. After two and half years of experience as an SE, I eventually became the first AI specialist as a product marketing manager (PMM), for Einstein in Japan, thanks to my former manager who gave me the opportunity to change my career.

As a PMM, I’ve experienced several big stages like World Tour Tokyo, AI Expo Japan, and Dreamforce, and even got the opportunity to present in front of a crowd of over 2,000 people! I have also been able to participate in many volunteering activities like teaching programming to elementary school students and helping NPOs use Salesforce.

What advice would you give to students aspiring to join Salesforce in Japan?
Be curious. Curiosity helps you acquire knowledge, gives you a chance to find a new way, and makes you experience new things. My takeaway from my career change is — following a good manager/mentor and being curious about everything you love.

Shosei Urata
Regional Lead, MuleSoft Account Development

Tell us a bit about your role here at Salesforce!
I joined Salesforce in April 2018 as a part of Futureforce. I worked as a Sales Development Representative for a year and then moved to MuleSoft in February 2020. At MuleSoft, I helped launch Account Development as an individual contributor for a year. In August 2021, I started a team as a 1st line manager of Account Development and aligned with one of the Account Executive teams. Most recently in March 2022, the team expanded to align with two of the Account Executive teams and we are working as an ACV (Sales) & Talent & Culture Engine for MuleSoft Japan.

What do you enjoy the most working at Salesforce?
Thankfully, every day is enjoyable! However, the best of all is when I feel myself growing. I constantly challenge myself to something I have never experienced before, and through repeated trial and error, I improve myself. It is an irreplaceable and amazing environment in which I can always keep changing at a fast pace and take on various challenges.

Last August, I became a Manager for the first time, and the team has grown from three members to eight members. It is very exciting to experience business on a large scale that I wouldn’t have been able to experience if I was by myself.

I am fascinated by the company's business model, its way of thinking, its culture, and its stimulating environment.

Share a career highlight from your experience!
This will be my 5th year with Salesforce, and the most significant turning point for me was the "MuleSoft transfer." After joining Salesforce as a new grad and working as an SDR, I jumped into a world that no one had ever tried before — MuleSoft Japan, as the 19th member of the team. I was able to experience the start-up phase of an entire division. Global reporting, training at the headquarters, and collaboration with the APAC team were valuable experiences for me to feel the corporate culture.

What advice would you give to students on cracking their Salesforce interview?
First off, please be yourself and be natural. We conduct interviews so that we can try our best to bring the best out of you. If you have an "attitude of enjoying change" or a "growth mindset," we would like to hear about it. We also hope that you will share with us your unique personality, along with experiences and ways of thinking that others do not have; which excites us.

Yuto Yoshihara
Senior Solution Engineer


Yuto Yoshihara delivering a Sales Enablement session at World Tour Tokyo in 2019

Tell us a bit about your role here at Salesforce!
After delivering Salesforce training to customers as a technical instructor for two years, I became Japan’s first Sales Productivity Account Executive, a sales role dedicated to one of our solutions, Sales Enablement. It was a tough yet rewarding experience to launch the product successfully in the regional market and help customers succeed. Today, as a Senior Solution Engineer, I help customers across APAC as well as part of EMEA and AMER WEST regions to evaluate the Sales Enablement solutions and supercharge their sales productivity. A solution engineer role requires both pre-sales excellence and Salesforce technical skills and I am happy to have found this sweet spot where I can leverage my experiences both as an instructor and an account executive.

What do you enjoy the most working at Salesforce?
What I love the most about working at Salesforce is the abundance of opportunities. I’ve changed my role twice in the past 5 years. The transitions weren’t always easy and I constantly had to unlearn what I thought was the norm and learn something new. Nonetheless, I always find the process eye-opening, rewarding and fun. Furthermore, Salesforce has even helped me relocate to Sydney office. Working abroad has always been one of my career aspirations, and I am grateful for all the opportunities Salesforce has offered (and hopefully will offer) me.

Share a career highlight from your experience!
In 2020, I marked the highest quota attainment on the global Sales Enablement sales team and was awarded as the top performer of the year. It meant a lot to me because, in all honesty, there were moments in the first 6 months where I was unsure if I was qualified for the role. But my manager back then, Jessica, always trusted me, gave me confidence and encouraged me to push my boundaries bit by bit. Thanks to her guidance and trust, I could manage to hit the quota and earn the award. I feel so lucky to have had a leader like her as my manager, and also grateful that she is one of many Salesforce leaders who leads teams by not orders but by trust. This makes Salesforce such a unique workplace that helps any employee, especially Futureforce grads, grow and shine.

What advice would you give to students aspiring to join Salesforce in Japan?
Many of my mentors at Salesforce have taught me the same thing. “Don’t be afraid of asking.” And this would be the best advice I could give to any student as well. It’s easier to not ask and many people choose not to — and that’s why you should. If you feel unprepared for interviews or unfamiliar with what the company does, you can ask your network for help. They may not only give you some useful interview tips, but also share their networks’ contacts who work at Salesforce and tell you exactly what you wanted to know. Who knows!

Kazuki Tokuhisa
Productivity Specialist - Internal Enablement

Kazuki Tokuhisa, Productivity Specialist (left) joined by Masako Tokura (middle) and Tomomi Maekawa (right) at Japan & Korea Regional Kickoff in 2022 at Salesforce Tower Tokyo.

Tell us a bit about your role here at Salesforce!
I started my career with Salesforce as an Inside Sales Representative. Then after becoming SDR and BDR, I moved to the Sales Enablement team where I was in charge of training inside sales representatives.

Currently, I am in charge of training new graduates as part of Futureforce Enablement. Every year 80 new graduates join Salesforce Japan, and my role is to help them get started at Salesforce. Futureforce training is a 4-month program with diverse content on Salesforce culture, products, business skills, and more!

What do you enjoy the most working at Salesforce?
I enjoy collaborating with other departments, such as the Recruiting and Employee Success teams, to design Futureforce hiring, onboarding, and training programs. We are always looking for ways to improve our program and deliver a better experience to Futureforce grads & interns.

Share one or more career highlights from your Salesforce experience!
When I was a Marketing Cloud/Commerce Cloud Inside Sales, I received the Inside Sales MVP&Japan CEO Award. At the time, the inside sales team consisted of only a few people, and we were having a hard time closing new deals, but with the cooperation of Account Executive and Solution Engineer and the support of my boss and team members, we were able to close deals worth over $1M. This experience gave me confidence that I could contribute to our customers and Salesforce even as a new graduate.

What advice would you give to students aspiring to join Salesforce in Japan?
Customer stories are a good way to understand Salesforce. Salesforce has many customer success stories that will help you understand a lot about the value of Salesforce, your work and your career. And in the interview, believe in your abilities and beliefs, and honestly express your thoughts. We look forward to working with you at Salesforce!

Our Futureforce University Recruiting program is dedicated to tomorrow’s generation of the workforce. We prioritize a supportive environment built on trust and develop talent by offering job shadowing, mentorship programs, networking, and more. Interns and new graduates have the opportunity to work on real projects that have a tangible impact on the future of our company. With offices all over the world, our recruits experience a culture of inclusivity, collaborate and connect with fellow employees on a global scale, gain exposure to leaders and executives, and give back to the community through organized volunteering.

Check out our website for more info on our Futureforce program:➚
Check out our Japan careers page for open roles:➚

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