Welcoming our newest member to the team: Hiromi Ito!

Daniel Olson | March 09, 2020

I’m excited to share with my interview with Hiromi Ito, our newest member of the DigitalCube team working across all our products including Shifter as the Customer Marketing Manager.

We hope you enjoy this chat as much as I did getting to know Hiromi and learning more about working across cultures.

Dan:

Hey Hiromi, I’m super excited to chat with you now that you’ve officially joined the team. I’m curious to learn more about your story!

Hiromi:

Nice to meet you too. I’m also looking forward to it.

Dan:

It seems like you’re active in the open-source communities. Can you tell us about yourself and the journey that led you here?

Hiromi:

Yes, it was a long journey. Originally, I went to a workshop for the AWS user group “JAWS-UG”, where I met our CEO, HIromichi Koga.

At that time, I participated in a workshop where I built my first EC2 instance on AWS. It was also the first time I participated in the “JAWS-UG” event held that night. I attended a session by our CEO Hiromichi Koga. He used the term “Immediate Practice” and that really changed something for me. That evening, I talked to many members besides Hiro at the after-party and my relationship with the community blossomed.

The open-source community knew of the existence of the WordPress community (Word Bench, Word Camp), but at that time I had not yet attended either. However, after meeting Hiro I began to participate in the WordPress community.

Dan:

Open source had a big influence on me including a lot of people in the WordPress community. What’s your experience with open source and do you remember when you first learned about it?

Hiromi:

Yes, I remember. The atmosphere felt so unique to me. Everyone was equal and free, but the atmosphere of competing for what I liked and loved was very good.

Dan:

Now that you’ve settled into your first week, what are you working on right now?

Hiromi:

I’m creating a new marketing strategy now and it’s focused on the Shifter Partner Network which launched the other day, of course as well as other projects affecting the entire company.

Dan:

We’ve got an exciting year planned and a lot to announce. What’s something you’re looking forward to?

Hiromi:

Of course, everything is fun. I’m mostly looking forward to seeing how our announcements combine with our customer’s efforts and the impact that will have on the public, our customers, and the company.

Dan:

Being introduced to the WordPress community in Japan was an eye-opening experience for me. It’s difficult to explain how unique it is unless you’ve experienced it for yourself. How would you describe the WordPress community in Japan?

Hiromi:

I don’t have enough cards to tell a lot yet, and I’ve never joined the overseas WordPress community so I don’t know how unique it is, but fortunately, I have a lot of friends and colleagues in WordPress. The feeling of being close to them is a wonderful way of accepting diversity. Also, I think it’s very nice that everyone has a place where they can play an active role. And the attitude of working together while taking advantage of individuality is very powerful.

Dan:

We met at the Shifter meetup in Kobe and you were a keynote speaker. You’ve been a regular Shifter meetup attendee since it started. How has it been watching the community grow?

Hiromi:

The growth has been very exciting! The Tokyo meetup is wonderful and has grown very large and the meetup in the Kansai region has grown enough to run on its own. But we still have room to grow and a lot to learn. Many people in the community feel I know a lot about Shifter, but there is always more to learn.

Dan:

There’s so much to learn at a meetup, it can be exhausting on my brain! After a meetup, I’m looking forward to good food and good conversation. Do you have a post-meetup ritual you look forward to?

Hiromi:

First of all “Kanpai”! I really value the after-party. It is very important to have an after-party that can be deeply connected with individuals.
Also, I am hearing about the theme and what I want to do for the next event and looking for someone to speak at the next time at the after-party.

Dan:

Torikizoku or Gyoza Ohsho?

Hiromi:

Hahahaha!! lol, I love both.

Dan:

Great, either answer is correct.

Hiromi:

Thank you. And you?

Dan:

I also can’t decide! I love both too. I will say Gyoza Ohsho has the best Gyoza I’ve ever had and I want it all the time. It’s a perfect lunch but Torikizoku is the perfect late-night spot for chatting with friends.

Dan:

Congrats on your first AWS Asian Women’s Association event! Could you tell us more about the organization and how you’re contributing?

Hiromi:

Thank you! First, I do not consider myself a strong feminist. However, I started these activities at an important time. There are many women active in the IT industry around the world and Japan is part of that.

In addition, many women have various concerns due to differences in countries, environments, and cultures. It’s an era where more and more women will continue to be active in the future. We have begun working together across borders and genders to bring them closer to a society where everyone can respect each other.

I hope that everyone can share knowledge, share thoughts, learn a lot, and share what they’ve learned all over the world to create a peaceful society through technology at least. To that end, I will continue to work as a leader connecting people to people, countries to countries.

Dan:

That’s a great answer. I like how you think of it globally and across cultures.

Hiromi:

Thank you!

Dan:

For anyone outside of Japan, how would you describe the women-in-tech community of Japan?

Hiromi:

It varies depending on the community, but what we can say in common is that there are many women dedicated to making a difference working at their own pace.

Basically the Japanese are shy. In particular, it is rare for women to participate in community activities either because it is difficult to participate or they are busy with their private lives.

But now, more than ever before, women are spending more time working together welcoming others to the community who have the purpose and intention and shine in each field.

As for my personal feelings, I think feminism seems to be weaker here than overseas. Just because filtering women as a category seems that no remark specially regards women who say “because it is a woman” even though it is “only for women”. This may be my desire, but at least I do.

Dan:

Do you remember launching your first site on Shifter? Do you remember anything about that experience that stands out?

Hiromi:

Yes! It was amazing. I created a site in a matter of minutes. I was so surprised at how instantaneous it was. After that, I spent most of my time selecting WordPress themes and creating content. Moving to Shifter was the easy part.

Dan:

Do you have any personal philosophies you’d like to share?

Hiromi:

“I will win over myself” I will feel better about myself tomorrow through what I do today. After that, “I do not betray practice or effort”. I’ve been fighting with my other self because I’ve always been challenging myself through things like Flamenco dancing, violin, and softball pitching.

When in doubt, I return to “Immediate Practice”. This is a word that I learned from Hiro. As I remembered, I heard from him, “One presentation from 100 participations”. I also experienced it and thought that it was really so.

Dan:

I’ve been reading a lot more lately about design and process. Do you have any authors, blogs, or resources lately that you find helpful or interesting?

Hiromi:

Sounds good! Please tell us your recommended book!

A book I found very interesting recently is “New York Design Strategies for Japanese Business: Winning in the Global Market”. It’s a slow read, but it was so interesting I read it very quickly.

In addition, I like blogs written by CIOs, a major company representing Japan that I know. The role is different, but I read it as a story of someone with leadership experience.

In addition, in Japan in recent years, many people are writing freely using a blog tool called “note”. The opportunity to read “note” articles shared by everyone has increased.

I am currently reading “When is consciousness born: Integrated information theory that challenges the mystery of the brain”, but it is moving very slowly. lol

Recently, I often read books that my friends recommend.

Dan:

For most of my life, I didn’t enjoy reading very much. I think it was because I didn’t know what I liked. For non-fiction, I enjoy short books focused on a very specific topic. Right now I’m reading John Maeda’s new book; How to Speak Machine, which is all about computational design. I highly recommend it. I only read fiction before bed. The book I’m reading now is; The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories, which is a collection of translated stories from Japanese authors spanning more than 100 years. They’re all just a few pages long covering everything from comedy to tragedy.

Dan:

Your Twitter bio says, flamenco dancer? We’ll need more info on that one!

Hiromi:

Hahaha, yes, I am a flamenco dancer.

Flamenco is a very calculated rhythm dance with a very interesting history and culture. And because it expresses the feelings and personality of the individual in a very raw way, it is a dance that shows the person’s personality. I’ve been dancing for more than 10 years, attracted by its appeal.

Dan:

¿Hablas español?

Hiromi:

Jajajaja!!! Sí, tal vez. pero muy un poco de verdad…

Dan:

Any other hidden talents?

Hiromi:

Well…. I’m not shy! I’ll talk to anyone and have fun! I can play the violin, but I haven’t touched it recently.

Dan:

Looks like you’ve traveled the world, do you have any advice for the aspiring world traveler?

Hiromi:

Oh! Really?! I think… Anyway, Be careful! That’s important. Be careful even if you are having fun. Feel the culture of your travel destination. I guess. I don’t have much special advice. lol, Have fun!!

Dan:

What type of work do you find most rewarding?

Hiromi:

It’s branding. It’s part of the reason why I joined DigitalCube.

Dan:

I like to keep an open mind to new ideas because there’s so much to learn. Have you learned anything lately that surprised you or made you change your mind?

Hiromi:

Yes. The biggest change was joining DigitalCube. Every day I learn and notice and there is so much stimulation. I also want to learn more and more with JAMStack. I also learn a lot on my own and I try my best to be aware of someone.

Dan:

You’re from Osaka, one of my favorite cities. I’ve learned that Osaka has a comedic reputation for having fun. Is that accurate and can you help me explain this?

Hiromi:

That’s right! Osaka is a friendly city. It’s like a Latin culture within Japan. Everyone likes to laugh and to make others laugh. Maybe because there’s been a comedy school in Osaka for a long time, and many people have the comedy “Manzai” close by and there are many interesting people.

People in Osaka include “laughing” and “falling out of the story” as a form of communication. I think this is important. It’s also an Osaka person who laughs and speaks clearly so there are no lulls like in a normal conversation. No lulls, that is the Osaka communication style.

Dan:

It’s an adventure right now for you with this new role but there’s so much more. Do you have anything else you’d like to share?

Hiromi:

I want to make our users more aware of all the members of DigitalCube. Everyone is so unique and the best at what they do.

Also, I think it’s very unusual for a SaaS service to know the creator and add more attachment. I am convinced that DigitalCube and its products will have more trust and attachment when I know everyone, so I would like to focus on personal branding.

We also have members of the team that are willing to meet up both online and offline. It’s rare for a company like ours to meet and talk to team members so easily and I think it’s really wonderful.

Dan:

Thank you so much, Hiromi! I’m looking forward to working with you bringing JAMstack to the WordPress community.

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