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Innovation: A Matter of Mindset?

Is innovation rooted in technology, or can it be promoted by other means? In this interview led by GLOBIS faculty Cristian Vlad, Ryosuke Asakura of CaSy’s Corporate Design Division explains how his company is positioning itself for innovation that will impact society.

CV: To begin, can you give us a brief rundown of what CaSy does?

RA: CaSy provides a wide array of housekeeping services, ranging from cooking and cleaning to housesitting. Here in Japan, it’s still pretty uncommon for ordinary people to use these kinds of services, despite the time they could save for other meaningful activities. Our mission is to create a new social mindset that will help people remember the importance of spending quality time with their families. To achieve this, we use state-of-the-art technology and Japanese omotenashi hospitality.

I myself work in corporate planning, where I’m in charge of financial affairs.

CV: What are the key success factors in your business?

RA: Trust. Trust and trust again. Many of our cleaning agents do their work while our customers are out. Without trust, that simply isn’t possible. Our approach is emotionally intelligent, culturally considerate, and customer-centric.

We need to build trust with our cleaning agents, as well. We engineer strong business ethics and love for the job. Because we’ve always had our own way of matching customers with housekeepers, we have no dedicated salespeople. Instead, we strategically lower prices and increase our cleaning agents’ wages, which keeps both our customers and agents happy and committed. We work with people from various countries, economic situations, educational backgrounds, and aspirations, and we want to provide them all with a healthy and engaging culture that makes them look forward to coming to work.

CV: Speaking of coming to work, how did you end up in the cleaning industry?

RA: Pure serendipity. Had you asked me a year ago what I wanted to do, I probably would have simply said “graduate.” I was studying business administration in the Babes Bolyai University in Cluj, Romania. That region, Transylvania, is one of the most technology-obsessed regions in the world. This meant I was surrounded by AI developers, system engineers, blockchain architects, and such. They were always talking about algorithms they’d created, work their machines had done, and new applications for smart city engagement. From a financial perspective, all this sounded fascinating. Then one of my good friends and mentors mentioned the possibility of joining a startup in Japan—a model that involved using analytics to match market needs for cleaning services with talent, all to create social impact. I jumped at the opportunity, and here I am at CaSy!

CV: With your international study and finance experience, what are your thoughts on innovation?

RA: Well, when you think “innovation,” it’s common to jump straight to technology, but to my mind, the most relevant innovation is social. It’s all the recent changes you see in society: the new mindset everyone has as a result of digitalization and the way people interact. Costica Bradatan, a contemporary Romanian-American philosopher, once said, “Just as you grow into the world, the world grows into you. Not only do you occupy a certain place, but that place, in turn, occupies you.”

Our modern values are shaped by the realities that we have experienced. My time abroad helped me see the truth of this and how it’s connected to innovation. In finance, for example, cryptocurrencies and e-money have transformed the way people think about and buy assets. We hope that CaSy’s business practices will impact the Japanese housekeeping market in a similar way, bringing innovation of mindset to society.

Ryosuke Asakura

Group Leader, Corporate Design Division, CaSy

After two years overseas in Poland and Romania, where he attended the Babes Bolyai University (an affiliate of GLOBIS University), Ryosuke returned to Japan to join CaSy, a dynamic venture company striving to redefine household maintenance. In his current role, he focuses on management strategy from a finance perspective, working to expand business overseas. He is also a business architecture director at JCE Japan Creative Enterprise.

Cristian Vlad

GLOBIS Partner Faculty; IBM Global Business Services, Talent & Engagement Associate Partner; President & CEO, JCE Japan Creative Enterprise

A seasoned veteran of business transformation, organizational development and innovation initiatives, both in terms of product and organizational innovation, Cristian Vlad is the President and CEO of JCE Japan Creative Enterprise, a young and dynamic agency which helps corporate teams transform their business and manage their talent. Cristian has been advising global clients on the role of diversity, human capital, creativity and corporate communications as strategic business drivers to foster innovation and stimulate business growth. He has been recognized by both multinational corporations and emerging enterprises as a thought leader in the areas of business strategy, relationship management, organizational development and architecture, leadership, social media, collaborative environments, people operations, transformation and business model innovation. In parallel, Cristian is an IBM Global Business Services consultant, advising corporate clients on Talent and Organizational Transformation projects. Prior to his current role, Cristian was project manager at Toyota Motor Corporation, where he led a team of advanced product development professionals within the Corporate Value Creation Department. He also consulted on numerous organizational changes, corporate rebranding and transformation projects globally, in a wide rage of industries. Cristian holds an MA in International Relations from Hirosaki University and a dual BA in Communications and Foreign Language Education from the University of Bucharest.

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