• Ayu Obara

This is what Grasp! is


The career counseling Grasp! offers will provide a chance to reconsider your life and what you cherish in-depth

The path Kumazawa, CEO of Grasp!, has walked till the first step into Vietnam


I first visited Vietnam in 1996 for 3 months as a backpacker when I was a student. That time, I felt sympathy and was interested in Vietnam War.

I entered into Vietnam from Cambodia, then crossed the country to Yunnan Province of China. Since then, I had never came back until I officially migrated to here in 2011.

I’ve visited about 50 countries, but 90’s Vietnam was definitely one of the countries which left me very strong impression.

Yet, I’d totally forgotten about Vietnam until migrating to Vietnam in 2011 and was enjoying a single life in Tokyo.

↑When first visited Vietnam as a backpacker, 1997

Speaking of my career, Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 was the life change experience for me. Back then, I was 35, single and unemployed in Tokyo.

On the day of earthquake, I was on the way to the job interview.

As many other residents of Tokyo, I was also one of them who lost the way to home due to the travel disruption in Tokyo.

I remember strong wind was blowing while I was walking from Yokohama to Sasazuka where I used to live. I saw there was huge fire over the ocean when I looked Tokyo Bay from the bridge astride between Kanagawa prefecture and Tokyo.

Although the fire was absolutely huge issue, it was not even featured by any news. I don’t know why, but it’s been on my mind.

Before I migrated to Vietnam, I was not really interested in working or moving to overseas, but started to consider about relocation due to the anxiety for uncertain future in Japan after the earthquake.

I started to look for jobs in Vietnam because I’ve stayed quite long time in Vietnam when I was a student, but no other countries. I didn’t utilize human resource agent to find a job in Vietnam.

I was the very first locally hired Japanese staff from outside of Vietnam in the first company I worked in Vietnam.

The unpleasant feeling through previous work experience and the path till starting own business


I am from different industry and had zero experience for HR agent, and came to Vietnam without strong passion. I was like a blank paper.

However, further I work, stronger passion I’ve gotten for my job as a career counselor. Meanwhile, I gradually started to feel suspicious feeling and doubt about the HR business itself, and began academic search about career consulting, studying competitors to find the solution.

People sometimes say,

“human resource services in Vietnam is just an exchange of CV and information”.

With those opinions from others, I started to think we need to pursue why I am doing this business in this business in-depth.

While pursuing the meaning of being a career consultant, I also started to feel even more suspicious if our clients and job seekers were truly fulfilled, and if colleagues are really happy for their job.

To me, honestly, they seemed not happy because they look so tired and uninterested in what they are doing regardless their sales score.

There are certain number of people feel sick of those working condition and simply leave there. Therefore, unfortunately, the employee turnover rate among HR companies are quite high.

↑When Kumazawa was in previous human resource company

I was always thinking “with coming all the way down from Japan to Vietnam, what am I doing here?”

As per I was at management position, I always felt a sort of guilty.

While I was pursuing the reason of the guilt, besides myself as an internal factor, I noticed that it probably came from the business model of human resource business itself and the way traditional organizations stands for as an external factor.

Japan is currently in an irrevocable situation in terms of population decline led by declining birthrate and aging population. With global point of view, only large-scale companies can improve productivity, I began to think about whether human resource business should continue being in the existing framework or not, and what value I can offer Japanese people in overseas.

While pursuing so, the situation in my previous work has changed and I decided to resign and open up my own business, then Grasp! was found in 2017.

No-pushing recruitment / candidate introduction


I assume that Japanese people in general feel anxiety for uncertain future due to current economy condition in Japan and state of the country. While each individual and entrepreneur feel the same anxiety for future, I believe the core value of Grasp! is giving an opportunity to consider how you live through human resource and job opportunity.

The question “what value we can present” is also an antithesis toward my career in Vietnam. ”Change oneself ⇒ change management ⇒ change business model ⇒ change the people around” that is what we are. We, as Grasp!, exist to create and initiate those changes which is the meaning of us. 

Specifically, our service is not only matching what companies want and what job seekers want, but also present questions how the companies / job seekers want to be, how they want to be, and what they cherish in their lives.

I think it's also important to give you the chance to consider about such essential things in-depth.

For this reason, Grasp! Career counseling and recruitment services often speak honestly which sometimes could be unpleasant for either clients or job seekers based on tough facts.

If a job seeker is not suitable for working or changing jobs in Vietnam, we tell them the fact clearly. Also, we don't recommend changing jobs in Vietnam or unreasonable employment of Japanese local employees if not necessary.

We help people and companies searching an acceptable compromise in reality to both parties based on their value.

This is because we expect this process will give job seekers and companies the opportunity to go back to basics and think essential solutions and improvements.

Career Counselling=Opportunities for self-definition and self-awareness


Career counseling isn't as simple as introducing jobs to job seekers, matching them with clients, then done when they get hired.

His / her life will continue whether they get hired or not.

It’s a bit of a stretch, but it’s unable to consider about someone else’s career which is very important part of his / her life without facing our own lives in-depth as a career counselor.

As a career counselor / recruitment counselor, we talk closely with companies and job seekers, but I think that the essential part is to look at yourself = self-recognition / self-definition.

This is because "Why am I doing this business? = Thinking about my life."

↑With an old friend / client

There might be no answer for it and maybe it’s unnecessary to find an answer, but we believe it is important to question doubts with no answer and face it seriously in daily basis.

At Grasp! Career Counseling, we ask job seekers what they care about and how they want to live.

We hope it will be a chance to think about how to live for that person. Furthermore, the process to find the answer to the question is very important.

If someone asks me that process will bring any revenue, to be honest, it’s not easy to quantify the benefit, however, the number of essential failures will declines and this will help to save time as well.

If the compromise won’t be agreed by both parties, it won't success.

Above all, although we don't know exactly revenue it can bring, but we believe that the way one can fully accept and ennoble oneself will eventually lead to sales, and it is the essential of business.

The things happened 1 and a half year from the establishment in December 2017 to now and thoughts


It’s been over 1 and a half year from the establishment, there were also retirement and replacement of Japanese and Vietnamese staff.

I think that the responsibility of the company, thus my responsibility is great.

What does it mean?

Achievement, motivation of employees and working abroad, what the company should provide to employees, what should not be provided, what is the company in the first place? I feel those questions were not clearly organized in myself.

Compared with the time of establishment, there were a lot of issues in terms of human resource came up to the topic in Japan; such as, the pension issues and the collapse of lifetime employment announced by Toyota Motor etc.

Those serious issues brought me a passion to pursue what Grasp! could offer as Japanese career consultant in oversea.

What Grasp! is aiming for

How Grasp! seeks the relationship between employers and employees, and Grasp!’s approach to work


The recruitment business is known as a business with a high profit margin that does not cost much, but the reality is that management often takes a lot of profit and employees are not able to receive sufficient returns.

At Grasp!, we have a core policy that I, as a director, don’t take everything and “share” the profits to employees who have achieved the results.

I, myself, don't like unreasonable and excessive hierarchical relationships at work, and even if I take the treatment from my previous work as "I was exploited", I don't want to do the same way to my employees now.

I don't think the world is going well in that way. I would like to end this kind of work culture.

When I was thinking about such things at my previous work, I met the idea of “Holacracy” which is the specific framework of “Teal organization” and it influenced me deeply. Currently, I am trying to implement the business model based on the ideas of Holacracy and Teal.

↑Weekend with his lovable daughter

If you are an employee, there are situations where you must lie to yourself in order to follow the intentions of your boss or managements even if it is inconsistent with your own beliefs.

I, myself, was able to accomplish my job even with that feeling, but I always felt uncomfortable there.

In the meantime, negative feelings toward managers became stronger, and it became disgusting to engage with managements. Now I think it was my own cognitive distortion.

In the end, I wanted to be honest with myself, which is one of the reasons for starting up Grasp!.

Now that I am in a position where I can make my own decisions, therefore, I honestly say I can't do for things I can’t do. It takes courage as well.

Don't lie, tell only the truth, and above all, do the job that doesn't make you feel guilty to your child. What goes around comes around.

How career means to your life


Nowadays, even well-known companies could collapse. I think it is inevitable to increase the number of people who are independent of the company.

It doesn't necessarily mean entrepreneurship, and mean each person thinks how they are independently and practices what they need to do in an organization.

I hope that businessmen with such self-definition will continue to increase in Japan and Vietnam.

We wish the Grasp! Staff and the business partners be involved to get this ideas first.

Thus, our daily work style is a little devised because such an idea is at the root.

For example, there are no rules regarding working days and hours.

Each staff has their own schedule and circumstances and work with them.

Presenting more work style options also leads to create social contacts that the person can hold, and such new career options should be embodied in companies like Grasp! which convey the way of life.

If you think about these things, you may be wondering what the company should do for the employees or what the company should not do, and perhaps the company may not be able to do anything for the employees.

Grasp! wants to spread these new ideas of career and life.


Writer's Note:

The company's name “Grasp!” means “to grab the chance” “to understand / acknowledge / be aware of one’s purpose of life”. The meanings of its name indicate Grasp!’s motto that will offer the chance to consider one’s life in-depth. The name itself seemed to become an expression of Kumazawa’s idea through his work which is himself facing to his own life and career sincerely. You may not easily find a company with such an ideas like Grasp!, yet we wish more and more companies will offer new ways of working as globalization continues.





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