Staff Interview

August 2011

Staff Interview: Shinichiro Shibata

Shinichiro Shibata, Chief Director of the Web & Cross Media Division, heads "The Survey Report of the Multilingualization of the Corporate Websites of Companies Listed in The First Section of The Tokyo Stock Exchange," which Arc Communications has published for two years in a row. Division head Yoshihiro Sato said with a smile on his face that Shinichiro, with his established reputation in survey and analysis, is dramatically enhancing the precision of proposals.

In this issue, Shinichiro spoke to us passionately about his background and his awareness as a director.

An Enthusiast of Things Digital from the Back Office Advances into the World of the Internet

− I understand that you were originally the head of personnel administration at a company...

Yes, I was doing administrative work at an automobile manufacturer's house agency. I joined the company before the concept of intranets had been adopted by companies, and I closely observed the digitization of the company's administrative duties increase on a day-by-day basis. It gives me a shiver to think that the administration of the fairly large-scale company used to be advanced solely on an analog basis! (Laughs)

− You then turned Web director, right?

Yes. It was indeed during the dawning of the Internet age. It helped that the digitization of companies was starting in the administrative divisions, and I had a chance to come into contact with computers in advance of others around me. I was already showing glimpses at the time of being a person that liked things digital. So, I got an offer straight away to participate in the advance into the world of the Internet by advertising agencies.

− How was Web production different at that time from what it is today?

We were pretty much feeling our way. After all, it was a brand new industry with no tried and true formulas. Our only "textbooks" were advanced overseas case examples, so we scraped together as much information as we could in order to arm ourselves with as much information as we could gather. We were primarily building large-scale websites, so I was acutely aware through my work that making rules were essential for creating websites. That really helped me when I started my work as a director. I think I had a very blessed start in this career, making guidelines for the website of a company representative of Japan, and so on.

Taught by Clients

− You later moved to a new company, right?

I decided without much resistance that I was going to live as a Web director, so I thought that the only way for me to advance my career was to go to a company that specialized in Web integration. That was the reason for my move. At the new company, I was assigned to the operational division. In other words, to work not on new items but to upgrade existing websites while operating it on a daily basis.

− I understand that you had a very good encounter while there.

It was very stimulating since it was the first time for me to be in an environment where everyone around me was a Web professional. But more than that, there were many things that I was "taught" by clients.
Operating a website means being involved with the same client for 365 days a year on the same website. It therefore requires two things. The first is continuity--we must constantly hold the same feelings towards the website as the client and share our thoughts with them. The second is the spirit of innovation--to continually find new topics so that the site and those involved do not fall into a groove.
There was a person at a company that I was assigned to who was always ahead of me, both in knowledge and in motivation. I would find a new topic to present to him, and he would have more than double the amount of such new topics on hand, or he would notice and point out small problems related to coding or site architecture that would have me wondering if he wasn't being too picky. I think he showed me the importance of having an accurate grasp of the work that one is involved in, down to the finest of details. Additionally, I was able to see through him the value of collecting a wide assortment of information and having the ability to leverage that information to speak in a logical manner. I think it was experiences like this that is proving useful in the survey and analysis being carried out right now.

Continual Self-growth and the Ongoing Evolution of One's Work

− And this brings us to you joining Arc Communications. Can you tell us what triggered this career move?

Creating new websites with new clients and with a new perspective is also one of the joys as a Web director. I saw Arc Communications as an opportunity for me to do that kind of work as well. I also find it appealing that much of the company's focus is on B2B websites. Likewise, Arc Communications' involvement in the multilingualization of websites, which is a world that has the possibility of expanding even further in the future, is another area that appeals to me. I had met company president Mariko Ohsato and division head Yoshihiro Sato around the time that I changed jobs previously. The fact that I empathized with their way of thinking and work were also very big factors in my decision to join.

− How do you find your work as Chief Director?

I get the sense that my work at Arc Communications feels like the best match for me so far--that it suits my "size" and the extent of my capabilities. That may make it sound like that I am only doing my work at a moderate level, but I mean it in the sense that my own work is firmly in my hand, while, at the same time, I am well grounded with the ability to clearly see matters around me. I am able to make use of my past experience while also doing new things. For example, cross media direction with the paper medium--something in which I had interest but did not have an opportunity to carry out before. It felt fresh because the method of expression and the direction required were different from the digital media, and I would like to continue this kind of work. Furthermore, it looks like I will soon be taking part in on-site video production work, which I am eagerly looking forward to. The way I am approaching things is that while I do work that suits my "size", I am also gradually achieving growth so that my "size" becomes larger--it is as if I am going through a delayed spurt of growth.

The Survey Report of the Multilingualization of Corporate Websites, Born from a Desire to Help Others

− I'd like to ask about the survey report on multilingualization. Can you tell us what triggered it?

I take pride in the fact that Arc Communications is involved in forward-thinking endeavors in relation to the production of multilingual websites. At the same time, as can be seen from the high winning percentage Arc Communications enjoys in securing orders through competitive proposals, we are also highly recognized for our planning capabilities. When we present a proposal to our clients, it is only after having spent considerable time doing research and analysis - such as market surveys and research on the competition - which do not appear in the proposal and are based on our own hypotheses. We took such behind-the-scenes work that we do, enhanced it and added it to our lineup as a consulting service. At the same time, we considered ways that such know-how could be of use to those who are unsure of rolling out multilingual websites. This survey report was the result of this kind of in-house review.

− The 2010 Survey Report of the Multilingualization of Corporate Websites released last year was picked up by the media and was very well received. You released the second of such reports this year?

The report in itself does not go beyond the realm of an investigation of actual conditions. However, I think that the scope to which the survey results can be utilized - such as through a comparison with last year's survey results - widened through this year's release of the second report. We would like to continuously develop this report, such as by including surveys with a slightly different perspective. The information that we were able to gather proved to be quite interesting, so I personally would like to utilize them in our own business.

Postscript from the Interviewer

While the impression that most have of people who do Web-related work is that they work late into the night, Shinichiro breaks the stereotype by being an "early-bird Web Director." He is known to be working silently in the early morning at the empty office before anyone has arrived for work, answering phone calls from clients. Tasks carried out by other employees in the mornings are often that of dealing with the phone messages that had been left on their desks earlier by Shinichiro. A darkly tanned fishing and cooking enthusiast; Shinichiro is most likely the healthiest Web director in all of Japan. During his personnel administration days, his uniform used to be a suit and tie. His current look of being dressed in T-shirts only started since becoming a Web director. Shinichiro is an interesting person, who, despite being in the extremely demanding position of leading a group of directors, carries out his work in nothing other than a healthy and unaffected manner.


Shinichiro Shibata
Born 1966 in Aichi Prefecture. A statistic major in university. Worked for a manufacturer-affiliated advertising agency and a Web integration company before joining Arc Communications in 2009. Involved in large-scale website renewals to site operation and updating. Has a live webcam set up for his cat at home. He said, "My two grade-school-age sons appear in the webcam shots from the late afternoon."

My favorite movie

Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro (1979 Japan), directed by Hayao Miyazaki
This film had a major impact on me when I saw it in a movie theater when it first came out. The camerawork, movement, unforgettable lines and music--I was moved by everything about it.