Eimi Ino, a Consultant in our Tokyo office, discusses career and her experience gaining confidence and support as a young woman in the consulting world.
1. Tell us about your consulting career journey and how your current role at L.E.K. came to be.
I majored in Biomedical science as a university student at Imperial College as I was interested in healthcare, but while I was treading further into my academic journey I realized I wasn’t really into the lab work components. When I started thinking about my potential career paths, quite a few of my friends were considering consulting for themselves, which intrigued me to look into, and later thought that this path could be interesting. So I applied for consulting internships etc. and my journey in consulting career started from there. To-date, I have worked for two consulting firms, one, which I started in 2017 followed by L.E.K. where I started last July. The move to L.E.K. felt appropriate for myself as I wanted to build exposure to healthcare and consumer insights.
2. What are some of the challenges that come with being a young person, and a woman, in consulting?
The challenges I’ve faced during my career are less indigenous to the consulting industry, and more a result of being a younger woman and being conscious about that. Primarily, I struggled with confidence early in my career as it can be difficult to perceive yourself as a value-add to your team or be comfortable to give feedback to colleagues, especially being surrounded by male colleagues, or those who were potentially older than me and/or seemingly confident. But over time, as the roles and responsibilities of my own became bigger and I had clearer ownerships and contributions to project work, it became increasingly easier for me recognize my own accomplishments. I also became increasingly aware that being female or young had never stopped me from those accomplishments.
3. What advice would you offer to someone struggling with their confidence at work?
Based on my experience, my takeaway so far on how to build & protect your own confidence is as follows (the latter being just as important as the former):
Don’t try to discount your perception on your own capabilities because you are not feeling confident – and instead, try to at least keep it factual – by this I mean reflect on your performance the same way you would reflect on a peers’.
Sign up for challenges before you doubt yourself or assume that you can’t do it – I would say that when you are given an opportunity to do something you haven’t done before, don’t be too scared. Your manager wouldn’t assign you something you are not capable of doing. I think many people fail to recognize that when they’re not feeling confident.
Celebrate every little achievement along the way for a little confidence boost one by one – it builds up to become “enough” eventually one day.
4. How has L.E.K. supported you in your career journey and how do you support other L.E.K.ers?
I have a supportive & understanding career coach, who is a Partner in the Tokyo office. He gives extremely thorough reviews when I work on his projects, and makes himself available to me when I feel like I am struggling, or need another person’s views on difficult situations in project work settings etc. – I usually have my own thoughts on potential conclusions before I talk to him, but might not be fully confident if it is the right choice – so seeking advice and getting views from another angle from him have definitely assured my confidence in making those moves or to better my original plans. I also come from a great working & learning culture at my previous firm and I do try and return that favor to my current colleagues at L.E.K. also. I am currently a career coach of three associates at L.E.K. Tokyo office and I have bi-weekly catch ups with them to discuss their development goals and progress, and would easily set up additional catchup slots in case of any issues or challenges as they arise for my coachees. I believe it’s important not be afraid to ask for support when you need it, and to also be available to your peers for when they need support.