Life at Elsevier:
Yoshiko Kakita


"What I’m doing, research management, is quite new. Our customers are changing, and we are changing."

Yoshiko Kakita

Tell me about your role with Elsevier. What do you do?

I was a Solution Sales Manager for the Research Management team, but recently I was promoted to Regional Solution Manager. I’m the head of the Research Management team in Japan. I work with SciVal, Pure, Scopus and Analytical Services. The markets I look at are academics, government, and some corporate, for the research management solutions. I’ve been with Elsevier about 10 years already.

What brought you to Elsevier?

Because I did my graduate studies abroad, I was looking for an international company where my international experiences could be beneficial. It was also because after my graduate studies I didn’t want to become a researcher, but I still wanted to make contributions to the scientific community, so Elsevier was really the perfect choice for me at the time — and still is.

What is your favorite experience so far working at Elsevier?

Every time customers come to me when they need some expert advice or help, I feel very happy about it. For example, many universities in Japan are trying to become more strategic about research management so that they can become more competitive in the world. After rankings are announced every year, some universities contact me to discuss the result and what they need to do. It’s not totally about our solutions, which I sell, but they are looking for advice from me because I sell those solutions and they expect me to have some knowledge around that. That’s when I feel very good about doing this job because I feel like my customers see me as a kind of partner — not just a salesperson.

How does working at Elsevier help you make a difference in the world?

What I’m doing, research management, is quite new. It’s a new field for anyone; universities used to just be where people go to get educated, or researchers just do their research. It was not about competition in the world until just a few years ago. For example, in Japan, national rankings are kind of fixed. Number one is the University of Tokyo, and the second is Kyoto University. It’s always like that, and if you are a top student, you go to the University of Tokyo; if you are second, then you go to Kyoto University. It’s all fixed. Nothing to really compete. But the world is changing; it’s totally globalized. Universities now compete at the global level for more funding from the government or from companies, and they are also competing to get good students — from different countries as well, not only from Japan. So, universities are trying to be more strategic about how they manage themselves, especially the research part, and for that, they need evidence or data. That’s why they turn to Elsevier for our solutions. Our customers are changing, and we are changing. Together we are trying to be better — more competitive in the world.

Does Elsevier’s global reach open opportunities for you? What has your career path been like at Elsevier?

When I started as a Solution Sales Manager for Scopus 10 years ago, all of my customers were libraries. But now I seldom talk with libraries; most of my counterparts on the university side are vice presidents for research, vice presidents for evaluation, or research office people, so that has changed a lot. Now my role is only covering Japan as a market, but my career ambition as a next step is to look at Asia as a whole, and the fact that I can have this career ambition is already a good opportunity for me. Of course, many big Japanese companies have global branches everywhere, but it’s a little bit different. At Elsevier, even in daily life I contact people from different countries, so it’s fun; I talk with the product team or the marketing team people, and they come from all different countries, so I think it’s really opened up my eyes to different ways. The Research Management team as a whole is really helping me to widen my view about my career path.

What have you learned the most about while working here?

What I have learned is how I can adapt myself to change. The world is changing, and the company is changing. Research management change is huge, and I do things differently every year. Even when I stayed in the same position, Solution Sales Manager, the people who I talked to changed, and the level of people changed. Ten years ago, I was talking with librarians. But then I talked to research office people, and then I talked to the president or vice president of the university. Last week I gave a presentation at the senior management meeting at a top university in Japan. Then I advised the university on what it should do to increase its competitiveness. We discussed what to do together. Elsevier is also investing a lot in people. We have lots of trainings. In the long term, it’s really good that I have those opportunities to receive the various trainings to improve myself so that I can keep up with the changes with no problems. Otherwise I cannot support my customers. So I think these are important things I have learned at Elsevier.

What does Elsevier as a brand mean to you?

Our mission is to lead the way in advancing science, technology and health, and I feel very confident that we are doing that. I feel that we are really the leader in leading this science community and how science is done. We are very innovative, and not only about the technologies. Salespeople receive different trainings every year, so I think we are always on top of how we do business. We are a leader, and I feel very proud of it. And when I talk with my customers, they also see us as a leader. In this industry, everybody knows us. All university people know us, and all researchers know us. I never have difficulty in making an appointment with people. As a salesperson, making the appointment itself could be very difficult for some companies, but for us, everybody knows us. Even if I just send an email for the first time, at the vice president level, they are still willing to meet with me because I am from Elsevier and they know Elsevier. If you’re a salesperson from a small company, and you just send an email to a vice president, they will never reply to you, but only because I’m from Elsevier, they think we have valuable information, so they are willing to spend time with me, and that’s huge.

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