Country Manager’s Interview

Sansan Global Development Center Expanding Opportunities for Global Encounters

Sansan Global Development Center, Inc. Director, Country Manager Jay Pegarido

To date, Sansan has been advancing its Sansan sales DX (digital transformation) solution and Bill One invoice management solution in Singapore and other Southeast Asian countries through its Singapore branch, Sansan Global Pte. Ltd. To further speed up Sansan’s global expansion, multilingual support must be provided for each solution and unique functions and features need to be developed in line with local laws, regulations, business customs, and workflows. These efforts lead the company to directly respond to customer needs in each country.
To bolster these efforts, in 2023, Sansan Global Development Center, Inc. (SGDC) was established in the city of Cebu in the Philippines, to strengthen product development geared toward markets outside of Japan. We spoke with Jay Pegarido, Country Manager, who heads SGDC. We wanted to know how he came to join Sansan and what his vision is for SGDC’s future.

Filipinos’ desire to work for overseas companies

I’m a native Filipino and studied computer engineering at the University of San Carlos, in Cebu, with the intent of becoming a software engineer. I then found a job with the Japanese company Yamato System Development (YSD), which had the vision of establishing a branch in the Philippines. Working for YSD gave me the opportunity to move to Japan, where I also started learning Japanese.
I worked with YSD for seven years before taking on a new job with Nu Skin Enterprises. I then joined the Japanese software company Sprasia, continuing to build my experience, and a few years later I came back to the Philippines to set up Sprobe, Inc (formerly Sprasia Philippines, Inc). I then joined International Systems Research, a Tokyo-based cloud security company, and set up its development arm in the Philippines.
During that work, I heard from a past colleague that Sansan was planning to set up a branch office in the Philippines, and I was appointed as a consultant to support its startup.
At one point, five of Sansan’s executives came over from Japan for an inspection tour and to look at potential office buildings. When I’d finished showing them around, one of them said to me, "Jay-san, what if you joined Sansan?" I was surprised, but it was a very nice invitation.
Sansan is a publicly listed company and has outstanding technology and products. Another factor is that, in Southeast Asian countries, business documents such as business cards and invoices are still mostly exchanged on paper, and there are virtually no products that digitize this information. I felt that advancing Sansan’s software would make people’s lives easier.
Working at SGDC is also very close to the life mission I’ve set out for myself. Many people in the Philippines want to work for a foreign company, but most don’t get the opportunity to do so. I’d been working with Japanese companies and through that experience, I gained the strong conviction that I wanted to help my fellow Filipinos fulfill their ambition of working in a foreign company. After all, I’d been blessed with that opportunity. I felt I could realize my mission through my work with SGDC.

Creating things on equal footing, not as a contractor

At SGDC, we’re mainly working on the development of Bill One, and more recently on some of the systems of Sansan’s Digitization Department, which is responsible for digitizing analog data. Also, SGDC, until recently, didn’t have any members dedicated to QA, but now we’ve established and are operating a QA team to further improve product quality.
While there’s a development team in Japan for Bill One, SGDC has ownership of the Bill One global product. We proactively develop the product by devising ideas for features and through regular communication with the Japanese side. In some cases, the Japanese side also implements SGDC’s proposals into the Japanese product.
Many IT companies in the Philippines develop software on a contract basis, so the engineers working there are only doing what the client or parent company tells them to do. In those relationships, even if an engineer submits a proposal for feature improvement, there’s rarely any chance for it to be accepted. However, at SGDC, our engineers can freely express their views on improving the product, which is a very rewarding experience.
Several aspects are especially important to me in growing the SGDC organization. The first is the education of our members. When new members join Sansan, we provide a training curriculum to familiarize them with the company’s philosophy and values, and we have them take part in a simulated mini project before they begin actual product development.
In this mini project, they’ll spend one or two weeks implementing their own product ideas using the same technology stack as Bill One. This gets them familiar with the technology they’ll be using, and it trains their ability to come up with their own ideas for products and features.
Another key aspect is our emphasis on team building. Many Filipinos come from large families, so we deeply value family-like relationships and a sense of trust in company culture as well. It’s the same at SGDC. We tell all our members, “We’re a family, so if you have any problems, you can always come to us.” And once each quarter we go to a resort and do activities that further deepen our friendship.

Making SGDC the #1 IT company in the Philippines and bringing our products to the world

Sansan is expanding its business globally and SGDC will play an important role in achieving the company’s goals. We’ll be further increasing the number of SGDC members, building a development structure, and creating products that can compete on a global scale. We also want to use SGDC as a springboard for technological innovation.
Along with the Japan base and SGDC here in the Philippines, Sansan has branches in Singapore and Thailand. We don’t want to stop there. We want to expand into more countries. Also, though we’re currently building Japan-born products like Bill One, we hope that someday we’ll be creating new products in the Philippines and seeing a future where these products are used around the world. To achieve this, first we’ll make SGDC the leading IT company in the Philippines. In this effort, I’m eager to work with people who want to take on global challenges and create innovations starting in the Philippines.