Megan Waters

Faces of Gengo: Mutsumi

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Our human resources (HR) and office manager, Mutsumi, can be considered the mother of Gengons, given her nurturing character, friendly demeanor and organizational skills. She usually works behind the scenes yet she plays important roles, such as ensuring employee satisfaction and building team rapport.

Nationality: Japanese

Hometown:  Hyogo, Japan

Languages: Japanese and English

Education:  English and American Literature, Heian Jogakuin (St. Agnes’) University and A.A. degree and Tourism Certification, City College of San Francisco

Where have you lived before, and what were your previous roles?

I started my career at a renowned trading company in Osaka, where I spent eight years. When I was 28 years old, I decided to study in San Francisco. I was older than many international students, but I really had fun studying again and made lots of international friends in a truly diverse city. After two years, I came back to Japan and chose Tokyo to restart and continue my career.

I became the executive assistant of an IT incubation company, who invested in the blogging company, Six Apart. I transferred to Six Apart and worked there for 11 years as an executive assistant, office manager and business operations manager. I was in charge of the HR and legal departments, too.

How would you describe living and working in Tokyo?

Tokyo is an amazing and exciting city, not only to work in, but also for everyday life—there’s always something new happening here. When I returned to Japan after studying abroad, it was challenging to find a job in Osaka. However, in Tokyo, there are always more jobs, regardless of age and gender. Companies here are more diverse, too. Although the cost of living is much higher than other cities in Japan, it’s a very convenient city and many establishments are open 24/7.

How long have you worked at Gengo?

I’ve only worked here for nine months, but I would like to work at Gengo for much longer. I heard about the job opening through my friend’s post on LinkedIn. I was amazed that I had already connected with a few Gengo employees, including the CEO, Matthew Romaine. I simply applied online and met up with him.

What drew you to the company?

I was really interested in Gengo because translations are done by people, not just machines. It’s also a very global company with employees working from all around the world. When I was at Six Apart, I already knew about Gengo’s service and thought it was a really unique and useful crowdsourcing service. As a student, I was interested in translation, so now I’m happy to be a part of the industry.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

I love keeping everyone at the office comfortable and making sure they’re enjoying working at Gengo. That’s really the most important role of mine and I love working for people. I’ve recently started focusing on the HR side of my role to help improve the work environment as well as ensure clear internal communication and a work-life balance. Employee satisfaction really does matter and I believe people are more important than new technology.

What have been some of your challenges, and how have you overcome them?

Japanese labor laws and employment systems are quite complex and hard to explain, so I’ve helped change the rules of employment for the benefit of non-Japanese employees. I was also involved in improving some of our internal processes, such the attendance system and other HR processes, to an online format to reduce paperwork.

I would like to work more actively with employees and help improve the hiring process. We are still a venture company and are always looking for good candidates, so I want to learn how we can focus and work on these issues together. After taking an HR management course, I’ll play a more active role in the recruitment process in the future to help the company grow.

What have been some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on at Gengo, and why?

We improved our back-office processes to use less paper, focusing on kaizen (改善) to continue improving our systems. I was involved in creating the online employee profile database, attendance system, and holiday forms. Instead of doing them manually, we’ve been working on improving these processes to make it more efficient and convenient for all employees.

How has Gengo changed since you started working here?

We now have improved internal communications and less manual processes. Gengo also holds regular events, such as Friday happy hour, Lunch & Learn twice a month, parties or seasonal events like our Yakatabune cruise and dinner, hanami every spring, and more. I really enjoy organizing these special events for everyone. The company’s growing and it’s harder to socialize so we need to make an effort to bring the teams closer.

What do you think makes Gengo a great place to work?

Having a diverse work environment is the best part about working at Gengo. Not only has my English level improved, I have also learned a lot about cultural differences and now understand other cultures much better. My fellow parents and I often talk about raising kids in Japan as well as parenting. As a working mother, it’s good that I can manage my time and don’t usually have to work after 6pm.


Mutsumi with her children and nieces.

What do you do in your spare time?  

My family matters the most to me. I want to maximize my time with my two children; an 8-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. Unfortunately, I don’t get to spend enough time with them on weekdays, so I’m really happy spending time and going out with them on weekends.

We always plan something fun and special! My family loves camping, skiing and playing tennis. We also go to parks, read books and play games. My kids give me so much joy and energy. I love traveling with them and visiting onsen (hot springs), too.

Want to work at Gengo?

Megan Waters
Megan Waters
Megan manages all things translator-related as Gengo’s Community and Digital Content Manager. Born in South Africa but now based in Tokyo, she’s passionate about languages and people. Megan spends her free time exploring secondhand shops, camping in the mountains and hosting the occasional dinner party.