Mercari x Code Chrysalis | Training & Developing the strongest software engineers (Part 1)

6/15/2021

Originally published in Japanese Mar 23, 2020 here by Noriko Hirata

In recent years, the speed of system development and updates has made the difference between a company's success and failure, and the importance of in-house engineers to support in-house development is only increasing.By having high quality engineers, services and products will not only improve in quality, it will also raise the value of the company itself.

Even if you understand that concept, it's hard to implement!

To address those concerns, at Code Chrysalis they have established an enterprise training program specifically for in-house engineers. Training programs are designed in accordance with the training policies of each enterprise while Code Chrysalis instructors deliver a high quality of programing skills, soft skills, and teaching skills. To fully read about Code Chrysalis's training please read this blog post here.

Today, we sit down to talk to Code Chrysalis, who recently graduated the new enterprise engineer training to Mercari engineers, on the necessary skills needed by future engineers…and effects.

The training is introduced on the Mercari blog, so pease take a look!

The interview was conducted by Masataka Shintoku, Head of Japanese Programs at Code Chrysalis.

We had 4 participants talk about their experiences from an engineering perspective.

Tuttiq: Engineering Department Training Manager

Yuki: Engineering Department New Graduate Training Manager

Kaili: New graduate Engineer from China

Abhi: New graduate Engineer from India

Masa: Code Chrysalis Head of Japanese Programs. While working at NTT Data, a Sler enterprise, he came across Code Chrysalis. Through the programing bootcamp, he became a full-stack engineer and established a venture enterprise (business). Soon after, joined the Code Chrysalis team to improve the skills and status of software engineers within Japan.

Yuki | Code Chrysalis Tokyo Coding Bootcamp

What Mercari looks for in their Engineers and the difficulty on training

Tuttiq: Mercari Engineering Office Team Manager (As of 2019 October). Joined Mercari 2018. In charge of training engineers and utilizing their own engineering experience.

INTERVIEW:

Masa: First, I have the pleasure to talk to the Engineering Department Manager, Tuttiq, who is in charge of training and evaluating engineers. As Mercari grows every year, there is also an increase in engineers, yes?

Tuttiq: Yes, there are currently over 300 people in the Engineering department in comparison to 2, 3 years ago when there were around 100 people. You can say it's been a sudden increase.

Masa: As of now, what kind of engineers does Mercari need/looking for?

Tuttiq: First, we're looking for senior engineers. We need people who can train and guide the rapidly increasing number of young engineers. The other, a person person with excellent leadership and communication skills who can organize a team of international people.

Masa: By that do you mean soft skills? ソフトスキルが重要、ということですね。

Tuttiq:   Soft skills are absolutely necessary. Engineers are the ones who need soft skills such as leadership, communication, teamwork, and collaboration.

Even if you are a great engineer in terms of programming technology, if you cannot cooperate well with others, team development will not be successful.

To complement this, Mercari is trying to provide training in feedback, leadership, agile development, and other skills to help people learn to work together. However, if possible, we would like to strengthen this even more.

Masa: This is exactly the kind of soft skills that Code Chrysalis focuses on in its trainging. This time, we helped Mercari with their new graduate training, but what challenges did they face in terms of training new engineers?

Tuttiq:  It was difficult to provide sufficient training for new graduate engineers with only in-house members.

In October 2019, we had 26 new graduates joining the company at the same time. We asked Code Chrysalis to provide the training because of the need to provide adequate training and to strengthen their soft skills.

Masa: In fact, Code Chrysalis provided the Fundamental training, which teaches programming skills and communication, and the Project training, which requires participants to work in teams on development projects. Was our training, with its emphasis on soft skills throughout, beneficial?

Tuttiq: This was exactly the kind of training I was expecting. In fact, some of the newly graduated engineers asked for a lot of technical training.

However, as new employees who had just joined the company, they were in some respects adjusting and learning the challenges facing the engineering team at Mercari and the capabilities that were required of them. While communication is one of our major challenges and needed to strengthen our soft skills, their awareness was not focused on that.

Code Chrysalis provided a well-balanced training as per my wish, even though the participants of the training wanted something else. The feedback after the training shows that this policy was a success. The most common response was, "The soft skills training was the best, and it helped me change a lot.

I also saw many new graduates talking to each other not only about soft skills but also about product management and agile development.

Masa: I'm really glad to hear that. Still, I was a little surprised to learn that even Mercari, a unicorn company and at the forefront of the times, has such issues. In regards to that I feel that many Japanese companies are neglecting soft skills.

Tuttiq:  You're right. I think we are putting off soft skills because of the lack of the technical aspects. I understand, in order for Japanese software development to progress, we need to change the mindset in that area. I intend to make every effort to make Mercari a role model for other companies. I look forward to your continued support.

Masa:  Of course. Technical skills are important, but I think our mission is to point out the importance of soft skills and raise the level of engineers through training, which in turn will help Japanese companies grow. We'd like to continue working with and supporting the Mercari team.

"Becoming a partner suited for Mercari"

Non-engineers seek the most effective way to train engineers

Masa:  Next, I'd like to chat with Yuki, who was the training manager for new graduates of the Engineering Department. Yuki was the person most closely involved with Code Chrysalis in helping with the new graduate engineer training in October 2019. She also wrote a blog post about this training.

Yuki:   Yes, we received support from Code Chrysalis from the training program review to the implementation of the training.

Masa: Could you tell us about the history Mercari's new graduate training?

Yuki:  Mecari hires new members twice a year in April and October. We began a full-scale training program in April of 2019. At that time, the majority of training were for Japanese employees who were recent university graduates. As of October, 23 out of 26 employees were non-Japanese nationals and living in Japan for the first time.

Masa: What are some difficulties you might face in the field of training new engineering graduates?

Yuki:  Mercari's new graduates are very talented. Most of them have a degree in computer science and some have even developed their own systems!

In short, they are all more skilled than we, the training staff. It is difficult for us to teach them thoroughly, so we are thinking about how to provide them with experiences that will help them in their careers. Especially for the technical aspects, we designed the training by interviewing internal engineers.

Masa: I am sure that many people in charge of training programs at various companies have faced the same problem. In such situations, what did you expect from Code Chrysalis?

Yuki:  I was looking for a company that had advanced programming skills and could provide training in English. I was also hoping that the company would provide training that would be friendly to foreign nationals working in Japan for the first time.

Masa: When you actually entrusted the training to us, were you satisfied with the content?

Yuki:  Yes, I was satisfied. First of all, the level of the instructors was very high. The engineers in Mercari who saw the training also said that the technical aspects were of high quality.

Additionally, there were many ways to acquire soft skills, such as interesting activities to develop communication and presentation skills, and participants said that they were able to learn important things that will help them build a long engineering career.

Masa: How was it in terms of getting close to the students?

Yuki:  It must have been difficult for the instructors because 23 new graduate engineers took the training at once, but even so, they were able to respond to the needs of each individual.

The report from the instructors after the training shows that they properly analyzed the characteristics, strengths and weaknesses of each participant. I am sure that the participants gained a lot from the training, because it was not just a group training but a training that went face to face with all the participants.

Masa: How was the relationship between yourself and the training staff and Code Chrysalis?

Yuki:  I feel that they responded not only as instructors, but also as partners in creating the training program together.

At the stage of designing the training, Mercari wanted to do a basic training followed by a project development training. In addition to that, we were also going to provide our own training provided by the Mercari development team. When I told the instructor this in a straightforward manner, they suggested that it would be most effective if we did the Fundamental Training (Code Chrysalis) → Mercari Training → Project Training (Code Chrysalis), so that we could utilize what we learned at Mercari in the Project Training.

I was surprised that they came up with the idea of having the Mercari training in between, and I appreciate that they thought about what would be best for Mercari. I am very glad that we actually conducted the new graduate training in this way.

Masa: At the time of the training, Code Chrysalis was short on staff, and I am glad that we were able to help in some ways. Now, we have more members and are refactoring (improving) to provide more advanced programs.

In this issue, we talked to two people who are on the side of creating training programs. I am sure that many companies are facing similar problems and concerns. At Code Chrysalis, we provide high quality engineering training tailored to the concerns of companies. Please contact us at least for a consultation.

In this next article, we'll take a closer look at the true feelings of the people receiving the training, the newly graduated engineers.

Code Chrysalis is a Tokyo-based 🗼 coding school providing a full-time and part-time programming courses in English and Japanese. Join us in-person or take our classes remotely. See why we are an industry leader in technical education in Japan 🗾.

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