Daikin Employees at HACARUS: Reflections on the Start-up Trainee Program Vol.3

Daikin Employees At HACARUS: Reflections On The Start-up Trainee Program Vol.3

In this blog series we follow a conversation between HACARUS’ COO Takashi Someda & Mr. Fujimoto, Senior Engineer at Daikin Industries Technology Innovation Center, and Mr. Ishiba and Mr. Okamura, who were transferred to HACARUS, about Daikin’s experience working with HACARUS. 

In April 2021, HACARUS initiated a program to accept engineers from Daikin as start-up trainees, in which guest workers join HACARUS for a period of time, to get hands-on experience of working at a high growth startup. Following this, in April 2023, Daikin led HACARUS’ Series-C round.

Catch-up on Vol. 1 here and Vol. 2 here.

After a year of intensive training, what is the learning and growth experience in a venture company?

Takashi Someda: Mr.Ishiba, it’s been a little over a year since you returned from your transferral, and Mr. Okamura, it’s been a few months. From Mr. Fujimoto’s perspective, have you noticed any growth or changes in the two of them?

Mr. Fujimoto: I believe Mr. Ishiba has gained more confidence in his own skills compared to before the transferral. He has become more conscious of the benefits and advantages for the users and can approach the topics with this awareness. Mr. Okamura, having been involved in the product development team, has developed a perspective considering things from the user’s point of view more than before. 

Moreover, both of them can now clearly understand the sense of urgency regarding the project themes and deadlines. They have also experienced team-based development, allowing them to visualize the concept of team development, which I think has been valuable.

Takashi Someda: After the one-year trainee period, have you both noticed any changes, realizations, or personal growth in yourselves?”

Mr. Ishiba: I think my analytical skills, awareness of how to present the analysis process and results, and the speed of analysis have all improved significantly (although I still couldn’t catch up with HACARUS members!). Also, having experienced multiple projects, I’ve become more aware of the importance of problem definition.

I realized that some clients, especially those with low AI literacy, or even the problem definitions requested in assessments, needed reconsideration. In this regard, I think I’ve developed the ability to discern the issues better. After returning to Daikin, although the implementation didn’t proceed, I conducted a PoC on visual inspection, from data acquisition to analysis and reporting, evaluating the feasibility of introducing an external visual inspection system in a short period. It was a project where I could fully utilize my experience at HACARUS.

Mr. Okamura: I’ve been involved with the AI visual inspection system ‘HACARUS Check’ since its prototype days, witnessing various evolutions in both hardware and software. Eventually, the equipment was delivered to the customers. I experienced customer support and even further development looking ahead. 

The discussions, perspectives, and approaches taken during this process were quite different from what I had experienced within Daikin, broadening my horizons in various aspects. Although I’ve recently returned to Daikin, I believe situations will arise where I can apply my experiences from HACARUS in my daily work. I want to make the most of the knowledge I’ve gained.

Takashi Someda: Finally, could you share your thoughts on this traineeship and your future career prospects after this experience?

Mr. Ishiba: It’s rare to have such extensive learning opportunities as a professional. I believe this education system, and the fact that it exists, has fundamentally changed my life. If not for this system, I probably wouldn’t have ventured into the field of information technology, and for that, I’m truly grateful to Daikin. 

Moreover, the start-up trainee project allowed me to see beyond the company’s borders and experience the outside world. What I imagined before the traineeship and the reality differed significantly, and there are many things you won’t understand until you join. In my work after returning, I now approach tasks with confidence. Experiencing and feeling the outside world has been an invaluable experience.

Mr. Okamura: After going through DICT and being primarily engaged with internal teams, I had been quite sheltered. This traineeship gave me a precious opportunity to step out of that ‘box’ and work closer to the customers. While it was challenging at times, I had experiences at HACARUS that I couldn’t have had at Daikin. I was able to bring back a wealth of knowledge and expertise. I feel that this traineeship was extremely fruitful.

Takashi Someda: Through this traineeship, have your thoughts about your future career changed?

Mr. Ishiba: Before the traineeship, I had a strong image of a data scientist’s job involving creating algorithms from scratch. However, I started wanting to enhance my skills in deploying the developed technologies in real-world scenarios and figuring out how to utilize them effectively.

Takashi Someda: So, you became interested and curious about the process of applying these algorithms in real-world scenarios, correct?

Mr. Ishiba: Yes, through my work at HACARUS, I not only learned about algorithms but also experienced the process of how to apply them effectively in real-world situations. This experience allowed me to understand the interesting aspects and rewards of this aspect of the job.

Takashi Someda: And how about you, Mr. Okamura?

Mr. Okamura: I’m the type of person who wants to decide on my career after trying various things, so I don’t have a clear career vision at this point. However, through this traineeship, I have gained various experiences and knowledge, expanding the range of choices and possibilities for my future.

Mr. Fujimoto: What Mr. Ishiba and Mr. Okamura have been doing in the Data Utilization Promotion Group (especially the team they were in) primarily focused on projects for improving and reforming Daikiin’s on-site operations. 

As these projects are primarily for internal use, there is flexibility in adjusting the schedules. During this traineeship, both of them gained experience working on projects for external clients where ‘meeting deadlines’ directly correlates to the next contract. I feel that their awareness of deadlines has increased. I hope they will continue to work with this awareness after returning to Daikin, and I also hope they will have a positive influence on the people around them.

Mr. Okamura: In the first 1-2 months, I was working at the same speed and atmosphere as I did at Daikin, but my mindset changed after receiving feedback from HACARUS team members.

Takashi Someda: I see. The product development team you joined at HACARUS has been setting clear milestones and advancing the development steadily.

Mr. Okamura: Yes, at first, keeping up with the speed was challenging, but gradually I was able to catch up. Looking back, I feel that things somehow work out one way or another.

Takashi Someda: You were able to experience the whole process from developing a product at the initial stage to realizing it, delivering it to the customer, providing customer support, and even considering future developments. Having the experience of ‘managing to create something valuable for customers using any means necessary’ is invaluable. This is something unique to startups. Finally, as someone who sent out the trainees , Mr. Fujimoto, what are your thoughts?

Mr. Fujimoto: Through this start up trainee project, we were able to achieve the initial goals: 

1) Strengthening problem-solving skills by gaining more advanced and specialized experience through processes such as requirement definition in real customer situations, and 2) Acquiring knowledge of commercial-grade AI system development by participating in HACARUS product development. I hope we can continue exchanging talents as part of Daikin’s talent development efforts.

Takashi Someda: Thank you very much. We may be lacking in some ways, but if we were able to contribute even a little to Daikin, we are truly honored. 

From our perspective as the host company welcoming trainees, we believe that incorporating the perspectives and knowledge of companies adopting AI can lead to smoother AI development between us and the business corporations. We hope to continue such initiatives in the future. Once again, thank you, Mr. Fujimoto, Mr. Ishiba, and Mr. Okamura.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Click here to sign up