Life at Atlas: in coversation with COO, Toyoaki Ishikawa

What type of people can apply to Atlas?

It is important to have people who show an interest in Atlas Technologies. It is important to have a candidate who is interested in our company. Rather than someone who is just somewhat interested in any place, we would love to get candidates that - through conversations with existing employees - can imagine working for our company and have a sense of interest and anticipation at being a part of Atlas Technologies.

Do you need experience with fintech or in payment services?

Right now, our company is in the process of completing the first stage and developing even further. In the past, we required expertise in the fintech and payments areas, but in the future, we are looking to offer not only that, but also banking, insurance, and, in the foreseeable future, non-financial services, corporate transformation and technology consulting, so we are broadening the base of backgrounds we are seeking. For that reason, we are also looking for people who have experience working for consulting firms and are interested in areas other than payments.

If someone has little or no experience with fintech, should they apply? Why?

We are particularly interested in expanding into the consulting area, so we prefer candidates with consulting experience. With that said, even candidates without consulting experience, but have experience working in or knowledge of financial institutions are welcome.

What are some things that staff can learn at Atlas Technologies and how will it benefit them?

As an example, at other major consulting firms, because those organizations have matured to a certain extent, they have various departments, not just finance, and you will work with your supervisor to create your own area of expertise at your assigned firm. On the other hand, we are still in the process of building up, so each person's scope of expertise is wider than that of large consulting firms. Not all of us necessarily have a wealth of experience in the field. We are sometimes assigned to projects in fields that differ from our experience, so I think one of the differences between us and other firms is that we are able to gain a wide range of experience. The team consists of people who have a high mind-set of building up a business from a small beginnings, and by associating with such team members, they naturally start to think about how to make the business work. I think this is especially stimulating for those who want to start a business in the future. Of course, our CEO, Koji Yamamoto, is one of those entrepreneurs. I believe that the thinking ability, skills, and experience one acquires by working side-by-side with such colleagues is something that can only be gained from an environment unique to Atlas Technologies.

Could you tell us what is a day working at Atlas like as a consultant?

In the morning, the first thing I do is check my e-mail and schedule. I respond according to the level of urgency, check the week's schedule, and make any necessary revisions before starting my work day. I meet with people who are interested in our company based on the contacts I have made so far, and I am engaged in activities such as acquiring new customers and recruiting candidates who will build the future Atlas Technologies with us. I also conduct 1-on-1 interviews within the company to provide support to employees. The frequency may be once a week or once a month, depending on the person's role. The content of the conversations varies but is not management time. We have established goals from the perspective of short, medium, and long term, and we have a vision of what kind of company we want to be in three years, for example, so we work backward from there to build our organization. We consider the number of consultants, their activities, and the composition of the team, calculate the revenue to be generated from these activities, and systematically control the organization. My main work is planning, such as creating action plans derived from these plans and filling in the gaps. Sometimes I catch up with new information that Koji brings to me in a timely manner, and we communicate around that.

What is the working culture at Atlas Technologies like?

One of the things I feel about our culture is that it is very open. The reason for this is that we have an environment where each and every one of us can honestly express what we think, whether we are the president or a newcomer to the company. There is no need to be hesitant to speak up, or to listen to others' opinions, and the culture allows us to absorb a variety of opinions. Another advantage is the office's aesthetic appearance. The shared office (Work Styling Kasumigaseki) is adjacent to our office, so we can easily move from the office into the coworking space to unwind, which I think provides a good balance between concentration and relaxation. Another is the speed of the organization. Although the size of the company is only 60 people, I feel that the internal communication and decision-making, whether top-down or bottom-up, is by far the speediest compared to other companies I have worked for. I find it very exciting to be able to create business in a fast-paced environment while at the same time retaining the quality of the discussions.

Why did you choose Atlas Technologies?

The reason is my meeting with Koji. My previous job was actually a freelance endeavor. I had set up a private office in Hibiya and operated it by myself. One day, a mutual acquaintance set up a time for me to meet with Koji, and I met him for the first time. We found that we had something in common in that we were both from Fukui Prefecture and graduated from the same high school, which sparked a conversation that quickly brought us closer together. Later that day, Koji offered me the opportunity to join Atlas. At a later date, he shared his business plan and management vision with me. At that time, I was still impressed by Koji's enthusiasm and genuineness as he spoke of his desire to create a great consulting company. When I heard that the company was planning to expand its business not only into payment services but also into a wide range of other fields, I felt confident that I could make use of my past experience and decided to join the company.

What do you think makes Atlas Technologies different from the Big 4 and what do you expect from Atlas?

At Atlas Technologies, there is much work to be done. While each one of us has our own expertise, we are not necessarily limited to our areas of expertise. No matter what your position, you will have more opportunities to take on a wider range of tasks and concurrent duties than you would in a larger organization. This may not resonate with those who are particular about being in an environment where they can stick to one thing with pinpoint tasks that are handed down to them by their bosses, such as the so-called Big 4, but it is suitable for those who want to start their own business or improve as a consultant in the future. In an open workplace, you can work autonomously and actively, and challenge yourself as much as you want, not only for the job at hand, but also to further improve yourself. I believe that this would be the perfect environment for those interested in this particular attribute.

What is your message to those who are going to work at Atlas?

I would like the candidates to picture of what it will be like to work for Atlas two or three years from now. If there is a mindset that they not only want to accumulate years of experience as a consultant, but also want to find their own value in the midst of hard work, then this is definitely an environment where they can grow. Our current staff are all such people, and you will find senior members and colleagues who encourage each other with a high level of enthusiasm. We hope that candidates will deepen their understanding of Atlas through conversations with our staff and join us with your their own aspirations in mind. I look forward to getting to know and work with all of you.

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