About us

The Rakuten People & Culture Lab was established in October 2018 as a research institute focused on new relationships between organizations and individuals and the future of corporate culture. With its Advisory Board comprised of industry experts from a range of fields, the lab collects pioneering examples and research findings from around the world, and following verification within the Rakuten Group, aims to establish new theories and create innovative solutions.

To ensure high-quality output, the Rakuten People & Culture Lab carries out research and develops solutions in flexible collaboration with experts in each domain.
With our Advisory Board, we collect pioneering examples and research findings from around the world. In addition, Rakuten members manage each project to establish theories and develop solutions.

Advisory board members

  • Larry Emond

    Larry Emond

    Managing Director
    Global Leadership Advisory
    Gallup, Inc.

    Details

    Larry Emond

    Managing Director
    Global Leadership Advisory
    Gallup, Inc.

    Larry Emond served for many years as Managing Partner of a region that included West USA, Asia and the Middle East. He also served for more than a decade as Gallup’s Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Publisher.
    As Chief Marketing Officer, his responsibilities included overseeing the development of the company’s broad range of analytics, advisory and learning services. As Executive Publisher, he directed Gallup’s publishing efforts. Under his leadership, Gallup authored many groundbreaking books, including First, Break All the Rules; Now, Discover Your Strengths; StrengthsFinder 2.0; Strengths Based Leadership; and The Coming Jobs War.
      Larry Emond also manages CHRO Roundtable, a global organization limited exclusively to large company CHROs.
  • Yosuke Yagi

    Yosuke Yagi

    CEO at people first Ltd.

    Details

    Yosuke Yagi

    CEO at people first Ltd.

    In January 2017, after taking HR leadership roles in large corporations, Yosuke Yagi founded people first Ltd. He serves in advisor positions at large companies in Japan and provides professional HR services to them.
    Prior to establishing his own company, Yagi assumed the Executive Officer and Executive Vice President position at LIXIL Group Corporation, a global leading company in the housing and living industry. He led HR to transform the company from a Japanese domestic company to a global company.
    Yagi worked at GE from 1999 to 2012. He led multiple businesses as a HR leader in GE’s Asian businesses. From 1980 to 1998, he worked for NKK (currently JFE), the second largest steel company in Japan. He received his B. A. degree from Kyoto University and Master of Science Degree in Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School.

    戦略人事のビジョン
  • Tsedal Neeley, Ph.D.

    Tsedal Neeley, Ph.D.

    Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School

    Details

    Tsedal Neeley, Ph.D.

    Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School

    Tsedal Neeley, Ph.D., (@tsedal) is the Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School and an award-winning scholar, teacher, and expert on virtual and global work. She regularly advises top leaders who are embarking on virtual work and large-scale change that involves global expansion, digital transformation and becoming more agile. She is the author of Remote work Revolution: Succeeding from Anywhere (Harper Collins) and the award-winning book The Language of Global Success: How a Common Tongue Transforms Multinational Organizations (Princeton University Press). She serves on the Board of Directors of Brightcove, Brown Capital Management, Harvard Business Publishing and the Partnership Inc. She is also on Rakuten’s advisory board.
    Named to Thinkers50 On the Radar list for making lasting contributions to management, her work has also been published in top journals and has been featured on BBC, Wall Street Journal, CNN, NPR, and MarketWatch, as well as in Forbes, the Financial Times, the New York Times, the Nikkei, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, and in many other outlets. She received her PhD from Stanford University in Management Science and Engineering, specializing in work, technology and organizations.
  • Ryuji Nakatake

    Ryuji Nakatake

    Board Member, Japan Rugby Football Union
    CEO of Teambox Inc.

    Details

    Ryuji Nakatake

    Board Member, Japan Rugby Football Union
    CEO of Teambox Inc.
    Vice Managing Director of Japan Wheelchair Rugby Federation
    Managing Director of Sports Coaching Japan Association

    After serving at Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc., Ryuji Nakatake was appointed as the director of the rugby club at Waseda University. In 2010, he became the coaching director who leads leaders as "a coach of coaches" in the Japan Rugby Football Union. From 2012 to 2015, he was head coach of the U20 Japan national team and served as the substitutional head coach of the Japan national team in 2016.
    Nakatake started Teambox Inc. in 2014 in order to provide training services for company leaders. In 2018, he launched the Sports Coaching Association, where he serves as managing director, creating and encouraging learning opportunities for coaches.
    His books includes “Winning Culture”, ”Leadership to Followership” and he is a supervising editor and translator of “Insight”.
  • Yoshiki Ishikawa

    Yoshiki Ishikawa

    Public Health Researcher, PhD in Medicine
    Representative Director, Well-being for Planet Earth Foundation

    Details

    Yoshiki Ishikawa

    Public Health Researcher, PhD in Medicine
    Representative Director, Well-being for Planet Earth Foundation

    Yoshiki earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Science from the University of Tokyo, a Master of Science in Health Policy and Management from Harvard School of Public Health, and a PhD in Medicine from Jichi Medical School.
    As a public health researcher, entrepreneur, and science journalist, Yoshiki is working at the intersection of science, business, and government as a catalyst with the aim of advancing the well-being of society.

    フルライフ考え続ける力
  • Susumu Nagayama

    Susumu Nagayama

    Associate Professor, Hosei University Faculty of Business Administration

    Details

    Susumu Nagayama

    Associate Professor, Hosei University Faculty of Business Administration

    Susumu Nagayama was born in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan in 1982. After leaving the Faculty of Information Sciences at Hiroshima City University, he transferred to and graduated from Waseda University’s Faculty of Commerce. Upon graduation from Waseda's graduate school, Nagayama earned his PhD in commercial studies from the same university. In 2017, he was appointed to Hosei University’s Faculty of Business Administration.
    Nagayama specializes in organizational theory and his main research theme is organizational creativity.

Team

  • Masatada Kobayashi

    Masatada Kobayashi

    Group Managing Executive Officer/Chief Well-Being Officer,
    Rakuten, Inc.

    Details

    Masatada Kobayashi

    Group Managing Executive Officer/Chief Well-Being Officer,
    Rakuten, Inc.

    After graduating from Keio University in 1994, Masatada Kobayashi took part in the founding of Rakuten in 1997, serving as the director of the company’s online shopping mall. He experienced a diverse range of management methods both inside and outside of Japan as Rakuten’s original six-person team grew to 100, then 1,000, and now more than 20,000 employees, forming a diverse, multinational workforce hailing from more than 70 countries and regions around the world.
    In April 2012, Kobayashi relocated to the United States where he was appointed president of the Rakuten’s Americas headquarters. Subsequently, he was appointed president of the Singapore-based Asia headquarters in September 2014, where he served until 2017. He now serves as Rakuten’s Chief Well-Being Officer (CWO), a role aimed at spreading happiness throughout the organization.
    Since 2001, Kobayashi has focused his energies on nurturing young talent through initiatives such as establishing Keio University’s Seichu Scholarship. In 2011, he was elected as a member of the World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders. He is also a special guest professor at Keio University’s Shonan Fujisawa Campus and is the proud father of two sons and three daughters.
  • Takuya Kitagawa

    Takuya Kitagawa

    ManagingExecutive Officer, Rakuten, Inc.
    CDO (Chief Data Officer)
    Director,Global Data Supervisory Department

    Details

    Takuya Kitagawa

    ManagingExecutive Officer, Rakuten, Inc.
    CDO (Chief Data Officer)
    Director,Global Data Supervisory Department

    Dr. Kitagawa obtained his Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University and A.B. in physics and mathematics from Harvard College. As a theoretical physicist in condensed matter physics, he has published more than 20 papers in academic journals such as “Science,”“Nature Physics,” and “Physical Review Letters.” After joining Rakuten, Dr. Kitagawa established the data science team. AsChief Data Officer, he is responsible for the creation and execution of AI & data strategy, and manages a global organization located across the world including Japan, U.S., India, Franceand Singapore. He manages end-to-end value creation for data from data collection, data management, and data science product development, to consulting and sales of products. His current focus is the acceleration of core science for understanding customers and human behaviors, as well as the creation of new businesses based on a deeperunderstanding of customers. He is also a director of Rakuten Data Marketing,Inc.from2017.
  • Tatsuo Hidaka

    Tatsuo Hidaka

    Head of Rakuten People & Culture Lab

    Details

    Tatsuo Hidaka

    Head of Rakuten People & Culture Lab

    Tatsuo Hidaka joined Rakuten in January 2018. Currently, he serves as general manager of the Employee Engagement Department at Rakuten, Inc., general manager of the Corporate Culture Department at Rakuten Asia Pte. Ltd., and the head of the Rakuten People and Culture Lab; all of which operate separately from Rakuten’s HR department.
    Hidaka oversees the enhancement of Rakuten’s corporate culture, ensuring that it contributes to sustainable growth worldwide. He has led his global team from Singapore for the past two years, conducting initiatives such as Mission-Vision-Value (MVV) sharing, Post Merger Integration (PMI) consulting and “one team” culture creation across the Americas, EMEA, APAC and Japan.
    Before coming to Rakuten, Hidaka worked for the management consulting company Link and Motivation Inc. and has managed multiple organizational restructuring projects for major corporations. He was seconded to Intec Japan Inc. (currently Link Global Solution Inc.) in 2012. After being promoted to executive officer in 2014, he was appointed as a company director just two years later.
    Hidaka’s consulting approach is based on business theory and draws from his broad personal experience. He incorporates various perspectives across all layers of management and employees, from business and HR, from those in the majority as well as those in the minority, and from global and local perspectives. He also serves as a research associate at Waseda University’s Institute for Transnational Human Resource Management.
  • Yukiko Ochiai

    Yukiko Ochiai

    Solution development Leader
    Rakuten People & Culture Lab

    Details

    Yukiko Ochiai

    Solution development
    Rakuten People & Culture Lab

    Yukiko Ochiai joined Rakuten in 2000 to create a world in which people can live happily even in rural areas. Ochiai provided member support and quality control for some of Rakuten’s first services, such as Rakuten Ichiba. Since then, she has been involved in such businesses as Rakuten Travel, Rakuten Books and Rakuten GORA, working on the integration, quality management, system development and cross-sectional platform development of an increasing range of new businesses and acquired services.
    Currently, aiming for a world in which employees can work happily, Ochiai is in charge of solution development at the Rakuten People & Culture Lab, developing content that connects Rakuten's corporate philosophy and personal values. Aiming to create more enjoyable training and culture-sharing approaches, she expands on workshops, surveys and other traditional approaches with such new methods as board games, card games and chat tool stamps.
  • Jay Vergara

    Jay Vergara

    Solution Development
    Rakuten People & Culture Lab

    Details

    Jay Vergara

    Solution Development
    Rakuten People & Culture Lab

    Jay Vergara is a senior learning and development specialist and instructional designer with over 10 years of experience delivering training in the IT, sales and education industries in Canada and in Japan.
    He has been recognized for his dedication in delivering impactful training programs. The programs he has facilitated have positively affected company growth and expansion. His areas of professional expertise include training delivery, instructional design, course development, employee engagement, performance assessment and learning theory.
    Vergara’s clients and colleagues describe him as passionate, charismatic, inspirational and engaging. When diving into projects or corporate initiatives, he is relied upon as a subject matter expert in sales, policy, product knowledge and learning theory.
  • Gabriele Ciminelli

    Gabriele Ciminelli

    Solution Development
    Rakuten People & Culture Lab

    Details

    Gabriele Ciminelli

    Solution Development
    Rakuten People & Culture Lab

    Gabriele Ciminelli joined Rakuten in September 2019 as an Organizational Development Specialist. Ciminelli has deep knowledge and understanding of well-being as well as diversity and inclusion. He is a specialist in learning and development.
    Prior to joining Rakuten, Ciminelli has held roles in executive coaching and well-being life coaching, headed a corporate training academy, and taught and developed corporate mindfulness and emotional intelligence programs around the world.
    Ciminelli’s “why” is to help employees unleash a life they love in Rakuten. “I truly want to be part of an engine that drives the heart-work needed for social and collective well-being and employee engagement and supports Rakuten’s Mission and Vision across the entire company, worldwide.”
  • Yuki Sugihara

    Yuki Sugihara

    Project management
    Rakuten People & Culture Lab

    Details

    Yuki Sugihara

    Project management
    Rakuten People & Culture Lab

    Within the Rakuten People & Culture Lab, Yuki Sugihara manages research projects related to new relationships and corporate culture between individuals and organizations, and responsibilities that included the drafting of the company’s Collective Well-being Guidelines.
    In her previous job, Sugihara was involved in various deals in Japan and overseas at an M&A advisory firm for about five years, mainly supporting the development and execution of strategies and concepts related to post-merger integration (PMI). She was involved in a range of M&A support activities, from M&A strategy development to business due diligence and PMI.
    Sugihara has a B.A. in Foreign Studies from Tokyo University and received her M.A. in Conflict Resolution from the University of Bradford’s Dept. of Peace Studies. She previously worked for ABeam Consulting, the Japanese Foundation for Cancer Research, and GCA Corporation before joining Rakuten in 2020.