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App Development Manager

Ryo Inaba 

- Why did you decide to join Celsys?

I loved programming since my days as a student, and I was hoping to find a job where I could make use of my skills. The two most crucial things for me were a) whether all development was completed in-house and b) if I would be able to get involved in developing for macOS. At that time, including Celsys, there were only a few companies in Japan that checked both of those boxes. I had people in my circle who drew, so I knew about Celsys’ products. It also seemed like fun to be able to work in a creative environment, so that was what clinched it for me.

- What was it about having the whole development process done in-house that was so important in your decision-making process?
In companies where that is not the case, in other words, where the programming is outsourced, even if you join as an engineer, you may not get the chance to actually do much programming. It was essential to me to be able to “do programming,” so I guess you could say that was the thing I paid most attention to.

- How was it, joining as an engineer?
The programming, which was the most important thing for me, went as expected. After about half a year after joining the company, I got the chance to work on actual product updates, which, considering I was able to get stuck into pitching new features and hearing feedback from users, really exceeded my expectations.

I was also surprised how much could be done with such a small team. I was really motivated to do my best work, being surrounded by so many talented engineers, and because we have a culture of teaching each other when the time is right, thanks to my colleagues, I was able to get the skills I needed to work on some really big development projects.

- How would you describe the atmosphere at Celsys?
At Celsys, we pride ourselves on having created an environment where each individual member is respected and given the freedom to focus on their work and development individually. There are also many opportunities for people to take on challenging projects that interest them.

An example of this from me is the story of how the iPad version of Clip Studio Paint came into being. I am a fan of Apple products and started to do some of my own research around the subject, before a project was officially launched at the company. After that, we drew up an official roadmap, and the project was given the green light. It's that kind of environment that gives us the freedom, or rather, the individual discretion, to get on with things as we like, as long as we get things done properly. I find it easy to bring up discussions about working hours and definitely consider it an approach to work that I find comfortable.

Many of our colleagues, even those who are not engineers, are interested in creativity. And no matter what work they do, we’re all working towards a singular goal: to help creators.

- How do appraisals work at Celsys?
Our appraisals take place every three months at Celsys, which means you quickly get feedback on your work. Everyone, regardless of their role, age, history, and length of service, is appraised to the same standards, so it’s possible to receive promotions and significant raises in a relatively short period of time. We even have an engineer who became a manager within two years of joining the company. Our department’s managers are also engineers, so I feel reassured that they can accurately evaluate our technical skills.

The word “result” at Celsys does not just refer to what you were able to achieve but also the quality of the programming - both are taken into careful consideration. Skills like the ability to write code free of bugs and easy to build on in the future are given the utmost importance as we continue to provide a product that customers can use with confidence.

- What projects have you taken the lead on during your time at Celsys?
This overlaps with what I mentioned earlier, but six months after joining the company, I was given the responsibility of designing and implementing developments that were directly related to product updates. Since then, in addition to development, I have been involved in the overall development of the Clip Studio Paint product, proposing improvements to how we develop the product and responding to users’ problems and wishes for the product. I found it easy to take on these responsibilities because I believe projects were assigned to me, considering my strengths and technical ability.  

Right now, I’m a manager in the Development Department, and I feel I have been given more leeway to pursue what I want now than ever before. I was given a high degree of discretion, and now I am directly involved in shaping the direction in which the company goes.

- What do you like about being a manager?
First of all, the ability to be able to produce the Clip Studio Paint product. It’s honestly just fun to come up with new features, figure out how they’ll be released and how to present them to the user, and then decide on a roadmap to get them done.

Also, now that I’m a manager, I can proactively work on new things like creating new frameworks, new technical designs, new ways to work, technical research, and speed up the efficiency of our development work.

There’s also the organization-building aspect that I find interesting. I have been trying to improve how we hold meetings and create workflows that facilitate technical improvements to create an environment where each engineer can develop their individuality and work comfortably and spontaneously. I’m also working on instant communication with the team by setting up a teleworking system. I want to continue to shape my team’s environment so that it’s a fun place to work and that each engineer’s ability can be drawn on to the fullest extent possible and put directly into the product.

Rather than being purely focused on managing my team, I, like many other managers at Celsys, am hands-on and get stuck in work myself. I still design, implement, and program alongside my team. I feel that by having the perspective of both a manager and an engineer, I’m now an even better engineer than I was.

- Do you have any stories that could have only happened at Celsys?
Celsys is a company where the engineers make up the central pillar, so sometimes, we need to work on projects that are engineer-focused. Of course, PR supports us, but there are many chances for us to work with creators and industry professionals who we wouldn’t usually get access to, which is very motivating.

The other day, I was invited to go on the radio by a personality who happens to be a Clip Studio Paint user. It was a refreshing surprise to hear from the users through the radio show. There was another time when one of our other engineers sat down for a interview with a manga artist and ended up in one of his stories later on. I feel like those kinds of things only tend to happen at Celsys.

- Do you have any final thoughts about the development team or the product itself?
Working as a Celsys engineer means that I can challenge myself with product development and maximize my own skills. My team loves a challenge as much as I do, so we egg each other on and keep improving our abilities. I want to keep striving to develop products that reflect the skills we have mastered as a team to allow people to enjoy their own creativity.

I hope we can walk side-by-side with our creators to provide functions and services that surprise, delight, and help them get more out of their creative pursuits.

*Stated information as at the date the contents being made.

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*Link is in Japanese