Welcome to our monthly “Why I joined Asana” series! Every month, we talk with Asanas across our teams and offices—from Dublin to Sydney—to get to know the people inside the company and learn why they chose to work here.
Meet Hirohisa (Hiro) Yamada, Solutions Engineer at Asana. Hiro started as a Product Engineer in our San Francisco headquarters, moved to our Business Strategy Team two years in, and is now part of our new Tokyo office. Get to know Hiro and why he joined #teamasana.
How did you become interested in working at Asana?
As a senior at Harvard University looking for my first job out of college, I was looking for a company where I could grow fast in both my career and as a software engineer. Two of my college roommates were interns at Asana and they had spoken very highly of their experiences, which triggered my interest, so I decided to apply.
During the process I genuinely enjoyed the technical interviews. I found them to be the most engaging and challenging out of all the companies I was interviewing with. After receiving my offer, the Asana team set up time for me to speak with one of our co-founders, JR and our Head of Engineering, Prashant.
JR shared the mission, vision, and the culture of the company, and Prashant shared the unique technical challenges that I’d be able to work on at Asana. After these conversations and what I had heard from friends, I was convinced that Asana would be the best place for me to work on interesting and important problems with brilliant people, all while growing quickly as a software engineer.
What team are you currently on, and what are some of the most interesting aspects of your role?
I am currently a Solutions Engineer in our brand new Tokyo office. Since the office is still so small, each of our roles are quickly changing and we hold a lot of responsibilities. My key duties now consist of product demos to customers, responding to technical and non-technical questions, educating local partners, managing community events, interviewing for new roles in the Tokyo office, and sharing insights back with HQ about local needs regarding product requirements, sales processes, and marketing needs. I’m a jack-of-all trades right now, but I’m loving the versatility and excitement of it all!
What was your journey to becoming a Solutions Engineer?
I began my career at Asana as a Product Engineer on the Monetization team in our San Francisco headquarters. On the Monetization team I worked on various projects like implementing various growth A/B experiments, launching the Enterprise tier, and building a framework that centralized the computation of which users should get access to which Premium features.
Around my two-year mark at Asana, I realized that both my academic and professional career focused primarily on engineering, and I started to feel the urge to gain additional exposure and experience on the business side. Asana completely supported my transition to the Business Strategy team, which at the time was working on a go-to-market research project focused on Japan.
Having been born and raised in Japan, I was able to gain local insights via phone interviews with existing Asana users in Japan and through two research trips to Tokyo. The latter of the two research trips was particularly fruitful, where we took a whopping 39 meetings over the course of two weeks! After three months of research, we put together a proposal for our Japan strategy based on our insights from the research trip, and the company leadership decided to open an office in Tokyo.
As we get ready to open the Tokyo office, I served as the local point of contact and started to lay the groundwork for our business in Japan. Some exciting highlights include running the first-ever Tokyo community event, which attracted 200 customers, closing our first-ever Enterprise deal in Japan, and assisting in hiring the Country Manager.
What are you most excited for as you grow in your role at Asana?
I only recently started my career as a Solutions Engineer, and I am very excited to hone my customer-facing skills, such as building rapport, active listening, and communication. I have no doubt that I will grow quickly because I have amazing mentorship from both Hajime (Jim), our Japan Country Manager, and Jason, our Global Solutions Engineering Lead in San Francisco.
What’s it like to use Asana the product everyday?
My work is both effective and efficient using Asana. I work across different office time zones (San Francisco, Sydney, and Dublin) and collaborate with many different departments including sales, marketing, customer success, user operations, and product. Given the interconnected nature of my work, it’s critical that I am able to track who is doing what by when without relying on incessant back-and-forth of emails and hours of international calls.
What value have you carried with you along the way, and where did you first hear it?
“Getting it across the finish line.” On Monetization, I learned that there is very little value in getting 80% of something done. There is always the allure of skipping the remaining 20%. This might be writing one more test for an extra edge case, making sure a feature works with an actual credit card, or looking out for any drops in key metrics caused by the new feature. My team held me to a high standard of doing the work to full completion before hitting the task complete button on Asana. I still cherish this work ethic even after moving to the business side, because there is very little value in “almost” closing a deal!
I also highly value mindfulness and empathy and I appreciate how this is actually a companywide value at Asana. I am constantly reminded by my coworkers’ high standards of respect for one another, and I am always aware of my sense of mindfulness about other’s feelings whenever I interact with them. This makes me a better person in and out of the office.
Now that you’ve been working at Asana for 3 years, what is your best Asana tip?
I have a recurring task that I complete the very first thing each morning where I run through all channels of communication and consolidate everything I have to do for the day into the “Today” section of My Tasks. It’s a great way to avoid distractions caused by flipping through these different channels during the day and to focus on getting the actual work done!
If you could give a new Asana one piece of advice, what would it be?
Please share your wildest career goals and dreams with your manager. Managers at Asana do whatever is within their capabilities to make sure your work and career at Asana are aligned with your long-term goals. They are so skilled and passionate that they were able to pull off having me transition from product engineering in SF to sales in Tokyo.
Our Engineering team is growing fast and going global! Come with with Hiro and the rest of #teamasana. We have open roles in San Francisco, Tokyo, New York and Vancouver!