Crossing Over to “Another World” —
From Bookstore to Engineering Company
Hello. PlantStream here.
Over the past six months, PlantStream has been expanding rapidly as an organization, with many new members joining our ranks! Today we would like to introduce Mr. Kazuhisa Horita, who joined the company as part of the CS (Customer Success) team.
For this article, Kazuhisa shared with us details about his unique career path, which took him from studying science in college to working at a bookstore, and then eventually joining PlantStream after working as a CS engineer for a software company.
Please tell us about your career so far.
During my college years, I studied at Kyoto University’s Undergraduate School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.
During that time, I also spent many of my days practicing and competing in the school’s Rifle Shooting Club. In fact, I once placed third at the West Japan Student Championships in the 50-meter rifle-prone category as a junior.
In order to raise money for club activities and tuition fees, I started working part-time at the Maruzen bookshop in Kawaramachi, Kyoto. That was my first experience in the bookstore business.
Because of my love of books and my desire to work in a place where I would be as close to as many sources of knowledge as possible, I ended up working as a full-time employee at Book First, a bookstore chain. I worked there for about seven years. For the last three years of my time there I worked as the store manager. However, I eventually realized that the publishing industry was shrinking due to a recession, so I decided to challenge myself by working in the engineering field instead.
I joined a company that developed and sold computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation software where I was assigned to a customer success position.
I was in the engineering department in college, and I have always been interested in the idea of making things, regardless of whether they have a physical form or not. In fact, even when I was working at the bookstore, I continued to build my own computers and write programs as a hobby.
Even while working at the bookstore, I always wanted to try my hand at making things again — not just for fun, but as a part of my career.
At the CFD software company, I started out in technical support and eventually worked my way up to manager of the development department. I also worked in the corporate planning office.
Please tell us what made you decide to work at PlantStream.
In the process of solving various problems using the power of digital technology, I came to realize that I wanted to be involved in projects and work that would not merely solve issues with a single product, but rather solve all sorts of problems one after another using strong development capabilities that could be connected and evolved.
It was difficult to find a company that was engaged in such work, but in my search for a venture company that developed its own products, I eventually came across PlnatStream.
PlantStream is solving one problem after another with its superior technology. It felt like the ideal company for me because they did not just have one product or technology — they were involved in numerous projects with many different aspects that were just waiting to be improved upon.
What was the hiring process like for you?
The interview and feedback process was over in no time, so I felt that the company was very forward-thinking and quick on its feet.
After my interview with Mr. Oda (Takeshi Oda, Co-CEO of PlantStream Inc.), my next interview was with Mr. Kamobayashi (Hiroki Kamobayashi, CEO of Arent Inc.). He told me from the outset that he wanted me to come work for them, and that PlantStream was a great fit for me if I wanted to try my hand at various kinds of projects.
When I spoke candidly with Mr. Kamobayashi about other companies that I was considering, and about the company I was working for at the time, I was surprised when he offered his thoughts on each company’s operations, appeal, industry, and performance, and how his opinions were based on accurate insights and analysis.
I also shared what I thought I could accomplish with PlantStream based on my work experience, detailing what I had done and what I had learned up to that point.
Before joining, I also had the opportunity to have discussions with Mr. Oda at PlantStream and Mr. Sakai (Fumitaka Sakai, COO of Arent Inc.), who were able to provide me with a lot of information, so I didn’t feel too far behind the curve when I started working at the company. I knew what I wanted to accomplish there, so I was able to start working without a hitch.
If I had to name a hurdle I felt upon joining the company, I would say that I was surprised at the sheer variety of projects that PlantStream is involved in. I had always wanted to work on projects that had many different aspects and connections, so this was a pleasant discovery for me.
What sort of work have you been involved in since joining the company?
I have mainly been involved in CS work for PlantStream since joining Arent. I participate in meetings with customers and respond to any issues or troubles they are having via email or Microsoft Teams.
Other than that, I also help prepare the launch of user sites, as I did in my previous job, prepare for releases with product testing and debugging scenarios, and revise and supplement documentation for the instruction manual.
For all of these tasks, I am able to leverage my experience as a CS engineer in my previous line of work.
Also, looking back, I have been communicating with customers ever since I worked at the bookstore, so perhaps those experiences have also come in handy.
One of the unique aspects of PlantStream is that it is software for plant design and construction, which requires me to have a better understanding of the industry. While I am completely new to the plant industry, I am able to work as I learn from the plant design professionals over at Chiyoda Corporation, as they are also taking part in managing this joint venture.
What sort of people do you hope to work alongside moving forward?
This is just my personal opinion, but I think this would be an interesting company for those who have studied architecture and construction to work at.
This is because people who have studied architecture or construction tend to go on to work at construction companies, but they end up so occupied with using the tools that they already have that they let their own ideas lie dormant. I don’t believe there are many people in the industry who think, “I want to use the knowledge I have gained from studying architecture to create this new tool!” I think it is very difficult for people like that to try something new with DX because they are inevitably too busy in their daily lives.
So, if you join a company involved in DX like PlantStream instead of a construction company, you can immediately bring new ideas to life and make the most of the knowledge you have acquired by coupling it with the power of digital technology.
If you happen to be working with CAD or BIM at a construction company right now and can contribute your design skills, expertise, and other non-software-related production knowledge to PlantStream and its significant development capabilities, we can bring even more new ideas to life.
I also think it could be interesting to go to a construction or architecture company after working at PlantStream & Arent first. If you move on to a construction company with software knowledge, I am sure your skills would be highly sought after.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have these new choices for unique career paths available to you?
What are some of your goals for the near future?
I believe that there are still a great many unresolved issues in the construction industry.
There are many potential solutions to these issues available across various companies, but I do not feel that they are connected to each other.
I think there are still many people asking things like, “Can we really use this?” Which is one reason that outdated design methods have remained in place for so long.
I want to tell those people that by using the digital power of CAD and BIM we can now accomplish things more easily. That we can broaden the scope of our designs, create designs not previously possible with hand-drawn plans, and take completely new approaches to design that are totally different from what has been done up until now.
And that PlantStream can play a part in this.
I hope to one day see a new world of construction DX in which various product lines are all connected in such a way that the construction and plant design industry itself evolves.
And, for my part, I would like to help break down the various barriers in the way of that, one after another.
To any readers who may be interested in PlantStream & Arent, please know that we are hiring in all fields and that we are committed to creating a positive working culture throughout our company.
PlantStream & Arent is working to solve the challenges of the construction industry with a core group of engineers who are dedicated to the mission of “democratizing implicit knowledge.” Help us tackle the difficult problems that have been left unaddressed for the past 20 years.
It’s fine if you don’t happen to be looking for a new job right now.
We here at PlantStream & Arent are looking forward to hearing from all of you!
Check out some of the positions that we are currently recruiting for at the link below:
*If you are interested in working at PlantStream & Arent but do not see a job listing that applies to you, please feel free to apply for an informal interview!
For anyone not comfortable contacting us through the above means, we have also listed the social media accounts of our recruiters, Mr. Goto and Mr. Motohira. Please feel free to contact them as well.