Exceptional Women at Blackpeak

Exceptional Women at Blackpeak

Exceptional Women at Blackpeak 1200 675 Blackpeak

We are proud to have many outstanding women working at Blackpeak. Our aim is to provide a friendly and respectful work environment, and we value the inputs from our team members, whether they work with the research team or the support team. We are committed to promoting diversity and equal opportunities for all.

In celebration of International Women’s Day on 8 March, some of our inspiring women at Blackpeak have agreed to answer a few questions for us. They will be sharing their interesting stories in the risk industry, challenges in their careers, and advice to young women who are interested in this industry and are curious about the world.

Here are the stories of our women trailblazers:

Rika Takase | Associate Director

Q: Can you share with us your background and current position at Blackpeak?

A: I am currently an Associate Director and Deputy for the Global Japan and Korea Practice in Blackpeak’s Tokyo office. My duties mainly include project management, training, marketing, client management, and business development.

Prior to joining Blackpeak, I spent a year at a Japanese strategic consulting firm working as the project manager of M&A deals for automotive and insurance companies.


Q: What made you decide to work here?

A: “Being an early team member and working in a flat working environment.”

When I first joined Blackpeak, the Tokyo office had a small team. Being one of the early members of the Tokyo team is the main reason I chose to work at Blackpeak. I have never prioritized the stability of belonging to a major company, but rather prioritized being part of building and establishing something. It is rare to be an early member of a team at the age of 24, and even today I still see the office growing.

The Tokyo office has now more than tripled its headcount, and so much has changed since I initially joined in 2016. Seeing this change happen and playing a major role in making these changes is a life experience that is very hard to achieve.

The second reason is that Blackpeak has a very “flat” working environment. For those of you working in Japanese companies, there are a lot of situations where you cannot state your own opinion because you are still young and inexperienced. In Blackpeak, being young and having no experience does not affect what you want to say and how you want to change the office’s strategy.

It is very easy to talk to the partners and state your own thoughts about how the company should change. In the past three years, I have presented a few ideas of my own to the founding partners, and all of them have been implemented into the company system.


Q: What is your favorite part about working at Blackpeak?

A: “Teamwork and Growth”

Teamwork is definitely one of my favorite parts about working at Blackpeak.

There is absolutely no competition among offices and we always consult with our most knowledgeable colleagues when we get an inquiry about a project located in a region that we are not familiar with. Of course, there is healthy competition, such as for promotion. This competition becomes a motive for growth, which brings us to my next favorite reason for working at Blackpeak.

Unlike in my prior job, where results were hard to quantify, at Blackpeak it is very clear how you have grown. I can say with confidence that my two main achievements in Blackpeak are onboarding more than nine new Japanese clients within two years and building strong connections in the major Asian financial centers (Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo). It is quite rare to feel this sense of achievement being a 26-year-old woman in this industry.


Q: Have you encountered any challenge in your career, which you would like to share?

A: There are many challenges that I have encountered throughout my career, but I would like to focus on challenges that I have encountered as a woman in this industry.

In our industry, the clients we deal with are usually very high up in the management chain, mostly C-Suite (CEO, CFO, COO) and general managers or portfolio managers, especially with our Japanese clients and hedge fund clients.

As you can already assume, most of the clients I deal with are men. Walking into a meeting with our potential clients or clients I have never met before, I have sometimes felt that being a woman does not give a good first impression.

There were times when I went to business meetings or networking events alone and the potential client treated me more like a secretary or daughter rather than a businesswoman.

However, this can all change by how you present yourself. Be strong and confident. Anything that you say and how you say it can change the first impression that a person has of you from being a “young woman” to being a “reliable potential business partner.”

Qi Zha | Associate Director

Q: Can you share with us your background and current position at Blackpeak?

A: I joined Blackpeak three years ago and am now an Associate Director in Blackpeak’s Shanghai office. I work with the Greater China team on various fraud investigations, litigation support, investigative due diligence, and business intelligence research projects. Prior to Blackpeak, I did an internship at the risk management department of the University of Michigan Finance Office.


Q: What is your favorite part about working at Blackpeak?

A: I enjoy the broad exposure to different industries and the flexibility in problem-solving. At Blackpeak, we have the opportunity to follow the latest developments and identify potential risks in all kinds of industries. We are also able to work closely with colleagues from different offices to brainstorm approaches to better serve our clients.


Q: What quality do you think is required to be successful in the risk industry?

A: First of all, to be successful in the risk industry requires curiosity about what happened and creativity in figuring out why.

Also, effective communication, logical thinking and solid analytical writing will allow you to better present the findings.

In addition, the ability to keep focus on the bigger picture while not losing track of the smallest details will help you stand out as you move up in your career.

Siqi Zhou | Senior Associate

Q: Can you share with us your background and current position at Blackpeak?

A: I am currently a Senior Associate at Blackpeak. Prior to joining the company, I interned at the World Bank and at a DC-based think tank called the Urban Institute. Most of my tasks then were related to policy analysis as I studied public policy in my graduate school program at Georgetown University.


Q: What made you decide to work here?

A: I had zero experience in the private sector before Blackpeak. I was looking for an opportunity to come back to China and work for a private firm. Plus, I wanted to do research. Blackpeak offered a perfect opportunity for that and I heard good things about the company culture and work quality through Georgetown’s alumni network.


Q: What is your favorite part about working at Blackpeak?

A: 1. I’ve always enjoyed doing research. All the interesting and surprising findings we have are always exciting. I love the sense of accomplishment in being able to connect the dots and write up the story. It’s also great to pick up fun facts and industry knowledge when we are researching different industries.

2. Being inspired by my wonderful colleagues. We have an open and sharing culture and everyone is very open with sharing their opinions or offering help.


Q: Which advice would you give to young women who want to start a career in the industry?

A: This is more for young people who have just started a career in our industry:

  1. Read more about your clients and what they care about or want.
  2. Be confident in your reasoning and research but also always be open to listening to a second opinion.
  3. Ask people about their case stories, you will be amazed!

Yanhong Xu | Director & Head of Beijing Office

Q: Can you share with us your background and current position at Blackpeak?

A: I have been with Blackpeak since graduating from grad school. Currently I am a Director, heading Blackpeak’s Beijing office.


Q: What is your favorite part about working at Blackpeak?

A: People. It’s such a great experience when everyone around you is smart, collaborative, and hardworking. I am confident that we can tackle any difficult case with our team. But it’s also more than that. We have grown a lot since I joined the company five years ago. The team is four times bigger now. The team managed to evolve over time to cope with new challenges and keep bringing in great talent. I’m slightly surprised (and proud) that we managed to keep this culture in the firm despite the speed of our development.


Q: What quality do you think is required to be successful in the risk industry?

A: Attention to detail and a big-picture mindset, as well as being analytical and inquisitive.


Q: Which advice would you give to young women who want to start a career in the industry?

A: Find a good mentor. I have been extremely lucky to have several great mentors in Blackpeak during my different stages of growth, from analyst to case manager to office manager.

Each stage has different challenges, and you’ll develop different skillsets. A good mentor will be able to give you candid and timely feedback, help address your questions and confusion, and provide support for your professional development in general.

And when they’re ready, I also personally encourage young professionals to help those in need in return.

Natalie Kwan | Director of Research

Q: Can you share with us your background and current position at Blackpeak?

A: I joined Blackpeak as an associate almost eight years ago and am now the Director of Research. Most of my day-to-day roles include managing research projects and liaising with clients about our findings. The projects I look after are mostly in Greater China. The research side of my role means that I also keep an eye on making sure that our research techniques and resources are up-to-date.


Q: What is your favorite part about working at Blackpeak?

We’re a very collaborative company. Our common aim is to produce high quality research, which means that everyone is willing to pitch in to make sure that happens.

For my own personal growth, I enjoy the fact that the work is constantly changing. There are new industries to look at, new sources of information, and new requirements from clients. Each project is different, but adds incrementally to your understanding of the world. Suddenly, after several years, you notice that you’ve become a bit of an expert about a whole industry without realizing it.


Q: What quality do you think is required to be successful in the risk industry?

Curiosity and persistence. A co-worker once identified her team member’s new girlfriend based on where they met, in less than half an hour. If that’s the sort of thing you would do, this could be the industry for you!

The common thread that connects everyone in our team is the desire to find information, and figure out what happened and why. Before escalating to dizzying heights up the corporate ladder, being really good at research is fundamental because that’s the skill we’re offering to our clients.

Susan Wu | Director & Head of Shanghai Office

Q: Can you share with us your background and current position at Blackpeak?

A: I’m a Director at Blackpeak and the Head of the firm’s Shanghai office. I manage complex due diligence cases as well as the Shanghai office’s day-to-day operations. I also lead Blackpeak’s work for Chinese clients on both domestic and overseas projects. I started my career with a Chinese international conglomerate and investment company and entered into the risk consulting industry in 2007 at another global risk advisory firm.


Q: What made you decide to work here?

A: Firstly, I like the industry and enjoy working with Blackpeak on different types of projects which are usually challenging yet interesting. There is no room for routine or boredom at Blackpeak. Here every day is a new beginning – learn fast, grow fast with the company.

Secondly, I like the unique Blackpeak team and dynamic working environment. The partners have always been supportive and encouraging. Our colleagues have professional and academic backgrounds. They are smart, collaborative, fun and humorous. The more I work with them the more I love them. They have inspired me to explore myself and the world.

Thirdly, I have great confidence in Blackpeak’s business pipeline, strategic direction and growth opportunities in the future.


Q: What is your favorite part about working at Blackpeak?

A: I have been working with Blackpeak for almost seven years. My favorite part about working at Blackpeak is the teamwork. No matter how challenging the assignment is, we are able to crack it with great teamwork. We can not only serve our clients well but also make us feel more confident. This confidence will spur us to push the boundaries of our comfort zone and become better.

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