Fourteen years ago, Principal Akihiro—known as Aki to his family and friends—was interviewing for his very first job. As chance would have it, ZS was also in the early stages of launching its Tokyo office. The rest is history.
Early in his career, Aki began working on sales analytics projects, eventually expanding his scope to include market research, forecasting and incentive compensation operations. He worked with a variety of companies across different geographies, focusing primarily on Japanese pharmaceutical clients.
Aki was elected principal last month, and he’s looking forward to the next phase of his ZS journey as we begin growing our presence in other parts of Japan, including Osaka.
We talked about what you do. So, why do you do it?
The people were the reason I joined ZS and today, they’re still my biggest motivator. I also like the concept of solving complex problems for clients—the variety of issues we tackle has kept me interested for more than a decade.
What’s the most game-changing feedback you ever received?
Earlier in my career, when I was an associate consultant and a consultant, there was a point when the workload was really difficult and I questioned whether I was truly adding value. A mentor of mine told me that in order to succeed, I needed to enjoy what I was doing. This advice forced me to step back and consider what it was I was actually interested in so I could narrow my focus. It was a turning point in my career and I feel fortunate that at ZS, we’re empowered to do that.
Describe your perfect ZS day.
My team and I just spend eight straight weeks working really hard on a tough project. It’s the final presentation. It goes well and ends with a big handshake. At the end of the day, we all go out for a celebratory drink.
What’s your life like outside ZS and how do you balance it with your career?
My wife Kanami and I just got married this year. We love to travel together. Our most recent trips have been to Singapore to watch Formula 1 racing, and to Bali. I also love playing golf and spending time with friends. I’ve found that the longer I’ve been at ZS, the more balance I’ve been able to find.