Meet the team: Erika Osawa

Q & A with Erika

What’s your background and where are you from? 
I was  born in Japan and grew up moving with my family between Tokyo and Australia, as well as living in Spain, Switzerland and London over the years. I currently live in Hobart, Tasmania.

When did you start your journey with Symbiotech and what is your current role?
I joined Symbiotech in 2018 and manage the operational functions for Symbiotech including human resource, finance and legal activities. 

How would you explain your role with Symbiotech to a 5 year old? 
I look after the money and the people!

What was your impression of Symbiotech before you started, and why did you decide to apply for the role? And did this impression match with your feelings after the first couple of weeks? 
I had worked with the Symbiotech company founders previously, so I was pretty familiar with the core business and knew it was a team I’d enjoy working with. I was also particularly excited about working in a software start-up, being a much more dynamic environment than the corporate and academic environments I’d worked in previously. The startup environment offers opportunities to contribute toward various areas of the business, to make real change, and to grow professionally.

How has Symbiotech evolved since you started? 
From being a very niche business focused on smart lighting, the variety of projects has increased and we’ve evolved from a Melbourne-based business into a global business. When I started we had 5 people in one city – now we’re a team of 20 in 9 different countries! Engaging with people from around the world on a daily basis really adds to my enjoyment of my work at Symbiotech.

Where are you in the world? Are you stationary or do you travel whilst working remotely? If you travel, which places have you been & visited whilst working for Symbiotech? 
I work remotely in Hobart, Tasmania. In the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to travel and work from across Asia and Europe – and on my travels around Australia.

What does your day-to-day (and your office) look like and how do you take advantage of the remote position at Symbiotech, in regards to your work/life balance? What does working at Symbiotech enable you to do, what you could not do with a classic 9 – 5 job?
I like to start my day with a run along the river, and then get to work at my home office, which overlooks the beautiful mountains of Hobart. I often need to work into the evening to coordinate with our European team, but this flexibility is give and take – my flexible work hours allow me to take my dog out for a walk on a sunny afternoon, pop to the beach for a quick lunchtime swim, or to simply be more available for my family when I’m needed.

What was your biggest success and biggest mess-up whilst working for Symbiotech?
My biggest success has been helping the partners grow the business from a small local start-up to one that operates across four continents. Staying on top of the operational aspects of the company’s growth allows the partners to seamlessly focus on our clients and projects and build the team.  Working with the management team to attract, recruit and retain a great global team has also been a real achievement!
Biggest mess-up – I really can’t think of anything! 

Which new skills have you acquired since you started at Symbiotech? How do you use them in your daily work? How do they help you achieve your long term career aspirations?
I’ve developed bookkeeping and cashflow management skills, and gained a lot of hands-on experience in HR – where previously I’ve always had finance and HR departments to support me in larger organisations.  I’ve also learned a lot about corporate governance, and of course developed some knowledge around IoT!  My long term career aspirations are to get involved with a social enterprise, so all of these skills are very valuable for my future career.

What is the most challenging part of working for Symbiotech, and how do you overcome this challenge day-by-day? 
The corporate and industrial relations legalities are the most challenging.  It’s hard enough to stay abreast of legislation in Australia, but having staff and projects in so many different countries with their own (ever changing!) rules & regulations significantly adds to the challenge.  It’s really important to “know what you don’t know” and seek out good expertise and support.

Do you have any other (personal or professional) projects besides the work for Symbiotech, and does the remote work help you keep track of them? 
My hobbies include travelling and adventurous outdoor activities. Working remotely enables me to travel extensively and balance my work around having fun, which is the best perk of my job at Symbiotech.

A Glimpse into Erika’s Office