Interview Credify’s Director of Engineering Shuichi Nagao
Vietnam has been an attractive place for innovation and international investment, especially in the technology industry. In this article, we would like to discuss with Shuichi Nagao, Credify’s co-founder and Director of Engineering, what businesses should know about Vietnam’s Information Technology (IT) resources, especially before entering the market.
Before founding Credify, Shuichi had been working as a Fullstack Engineer in the FinTech space, such as payment and blockchain (Ethereum). Since 2019, he has been running Credify mainly in Vietnam. From his diverse experiences, Shuichi can share his knowledge on Vietnam’s IT industry, and how businesses can leverage these resources.
Can you tell us about yourself and your journey from a full-stack developer to co-founder of Credify?
I’m Shu, a co-founder, and Director of Engineering. I learned machine learning at the University of Tokyo and in the last year of my university I joined a start-up company that two of my classmates founded, as software engineers. Through working with real products whose page views were like millions per day, I learned web development and iOS development. Eventually, this company was acquired by a big Japanese company for a decent amount of money, which was stunning to me. You know, the two of my classmates became millionaires! More importantly, you could impact/change people’s lives!
I have around 50 classmates, and at least 10 people out of 50, as far as I know, are entrepreneurs or very early-stage members of start-up companies. So I was interested in running my own business at some point, however, back in 2017, I decided to work as a software engineer in a FinTech company because I wanted to deep dive into complex software development to understand how systems work well before doing something for myself.
When I attended a tech conference on Ethereum in Tokyo, I met Makoto Tominaga and got along with him. At that time, I was interested in a different environment to challenge myself and impressed with Makoto’s vision and his experience and we started to work together in time.
As the co-founder of Credify, why did you choose Vietnam as the primary market?
Frankly speaking, I didn’t see Vietnam as the first market at the very beginning. Makoto and I came to Vietnam for software development at first, as we got a partner outsourcing company in Saigon. As we had been developing the MVP in Vietnam, we saw opportunities in the Vietnamese market (regulation in Vietnam, particularly around personal information, is not as well established as that in Japan, the economy is growing rapidly, etc.) and then we started to focus on the Vietnamese market. And also, the pandemic prevented us from moving to another country.
What do you think are the similarities of emerging markets in SouthEast Asia, and particularly Vietnam, regarding their IT resources?
The number of outsourcing companies is outstanding compared to developed countries. Due to the low cost compared with the developed countries, the emerging economies tend to have many outsourcing businesses, particularly in software development. In the outsourcing IT companies, you would work on different projects with quite limited periods of time (like every quarter) and you would need to strictly follow the requirements provided by clients or business analysts (I didn’t know of this position – Business Analyst – until I had come to Vietnam).
That engineers in the SEA speak English was impressive. I’m from Japan and find a lot of Japanese engineers with very good engineering skills without English speaking skills (writing & reading are mostly fine). I think there is kind of correlations between technical skills and English skills particularly in SEA because they need to use English to learn new technologies, while Japanese, Korean, and Chinese have more information in their mother tongue.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of Vietnam’s emerging IT sector?
Vietnam has a significantly growing economy and more and more demands of hiring from IT companies, therefore from a macroeconomic perspective, the Vietnamese talents will keep becoming stronger. Besides, the competitiveness of Vietnamese engineers is strong compared to other countries in SEA with the solid government’s support for STEM education, so leader-class engineers in Vietnam will get good opportunities to work globally.
As a weakness, I would say the mindset. In nature that Vietnam has quite a number of outsourcing software companies, the product-driven mindset is not easy to cultivate. If you are assigned a new product every quarter, it will be difficult to love your product. I believe that great products and services will be created by a team that is passionate about their own products and services. That being said, there are more and more new growing IT startup companies in Vietnam nowadays, which I think will change this situation as engineers can have more opportunities to work for those growing product companies.
What are the most on-demand IT services, positions & skills? How can Vietnam develop to meet that demand?
Engineering Manager and Tech Lead are very competitive. If you were to launch a new office in the IT sector in Vietnam (maybe a new company, maybe a subsidiary in Vietnam as a foreign company), you would need a software engineer who can build a product and a team. It goes without saying that this person should have both strong technical skills and management skills, but how can people develop these skills? I find Vietnamese engineers tend to follow the orders and try to complete them as much as possible by the due date (of course, not everybody), however, it is significantly important to understand (and make clear) the business requirements and figure out what exactly to do as a dev team by themselves without those orders. Having this self-starter mindset and ownership will be key.
What strategy should Vietnamese business use to best leverage this human resource, especially the increasing number of new freshers graduating from university?
Two things in my opinion; mentorship and branding. Working with top talent will be incredibly important particularly for juniors and freshers to set a role model. In my experience early days as a software engineer, I did pair programming with a great performer sometimes and I often asked senior engineers many questions like how to write testable code and how to design architecture. With regards to branding, good engineers bring more good engineers but finding the first ones is tough. Building a good reputation as to what the tech team does and making output by way of publishing tech blogs or open-source will be effective.
Finally, what are the qualities/values that Credify looks for in a potential employee developer?
I do value passion and mindset to grow our products together. Technical skills are important, but I like people who are passionate about what they do and I want to work with those people. I am sure that Credify can provide people with challenging and exciting opportunities.
About Shuichi Nagao
Shuichi is a graduate of the University of Tokyo and started working for Candle Inc. as a software engineer during the last year of the university. The company was acquired by a Japanese company in 2016. After this M&A, Shuichi had a transition to a FinTech startup company, AnyPay Inc. in 2017. where he contributed to both mobile development and API development. Shuichi co-founded Credify in 2019 and is now our Director of Engineering.
#TalkwithCredify’sLeaders is a series of 4 discussion articles in which our leaders will share their opinions and experiences on a compelling topic of their expertise.