Ken Tsuchihashi, CEO of Qunie Corp. in Tokyo, talks to Gernot Kapteina, Founder of OYSTEC, about his extensive experience in the Finance Industry, highlighting the rapid Digital Transformation and increasing demand for technology-driven solutions in Japan and globally, as well as the growing focus on sustainable and responsible investing.
Good morning, Ken-san, thank you for taking the time for this interview.
Tsuchihashi-san: Good morning, Gernot, it's my pleasure.
To start off, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you first got into the finance industry?
Tsuchihashi-san: Sure. I graduated from Keio University in 1987 with a degree in Law. Shortly after, I joined NTT DATA Corp., where I started in the sales and marketing division with a focus on financial solutions.
Over the next 16 years, I held various positions within the company, including Head of Financial Solution Division, Senior Executive Manager, and Head of Global Business Development. These roles gave me a solid foundation in the finance industry, and I was able to gain a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities in this field.
You have had a long and successful career with NTT DATA Corp., can you tell us about some of the most significant projects or initiatives you worked on during your tenure there?
Tsuchihashi-san: One of the most significant projects I worked on was the development of a new capital market solution for our clients. This was a challenging project, as it required us to integrate cutting-edge technology and stay ahead of the ever-changing market trends. I was also in charge of global business development, which allowed me to gain experience in leading a global team and coordinating efforts across different regions and cultures. Additionally, I also held the position of Head of Financial IT Service Division for 5 years, where I was responsible for delivering IT services and solutions to financial institutions. During this time, I also have successfully acquired four financial sector companies in Japan, including the required negotiation, conducting comprehensive due diligence as well as the post-merger integration into NTT DATA.
And how did you transition into your current role as CEO of Qunie Corp.?
Tsuchihashi-san: After leaving NTT DATA Corp. in 2017, I held the position of Chairman at NTT DATA EMEA Ltd. in London. This role allowed me to gain experience in leading a company and managing its operations in the European market.
Then, I joined NTT DATA APAC as President and CEO and stayed there for 2 years 9 months. During this time, I was responsible for expanding the company's presence in the Asia-Pacific region and delivering high-quality financial solutions to our clients. After that, I joined Qunie Corp. as CEO in June 2021, where I am currently responsible for leading the company and driving its growth in the Japanese market.
Can you tell our readers about some of the specific challenges you faced during your time in these positions?
Tsuchihashi-san: One of the main challenges I encountered was staying abreast of the rapidly evolving technology landscape and devising strategies to incorporate new technologies into our solutions and services. Additionally, assembling and leading a global team, as well as coordinating efforts across diverse regions and competitive cultures, presented its own set of challenges. I also had to acclimate to various regulatory environments in different countries, ensuring that our solutions were compliant with local laws and regulations while maintaining profitability. Another crucial aspect of my role involved upholding our core values, which emphasized fostering long-term client relationships and being recognized as a trusted IT innovator.
Building upon your knowledge, what are your thoughts on the current state of the finance industry in Japan?
Tsuchihashi-san: The finance industry in Japan has been experiencing a transformation in recent years, driven by digitalization and automation. These technological advances have been rapidly changing the way financial services are delivered, leading to a greater demand for technology-driven solutions and services. For example, AI and machine learning algorithms are being used to improve risk management and fraud detection, while blockchain technology is being used to create more efficient and secure transaction systems.
Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of digital transformation in the finance industry, as more customers have shifted to using online services and mobile banking. This has further increased the demand for innovative technology-driven solutions.
And what factors are driving the rapid change and disruption in the finance industry globally?
Tsuchihashi-san: Globally, there has been a shift towards more sustainable and responsible investment practices, with a focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors. The finance industry has a crucial role to play in promoting sustainable and responsible investing, and companies and individuals who can adapt to these changes will be well-positioned for success in the future. Moreover, regulatory changes are expected to further accelerate this shift towards sustainable investing.
In addition, the finance industry is also grappling with challenges related to cybersecurity, data privacy, and regulatory compliance. Cyberattacks are becoming more frequent and sophisticated, and financial institutions need to be vigilant in safeguarding customer data. At the same time, regulatory requirements around data privacy and protection are constantly evolving, and it is essential for financial institutions to stay up to date with these changes to avoid penalties and reputational damage.
Overall, the finance industry is in a period of rapid change and disruption, driven by technological advances, shifting customer preferences, and evolving regulatory requirements. Adapting to these changes is essential for financial institutions to stay competitive and thrive in the years ahead.
For this background, what unique qualities and offerings does Qunie bring to the market to stand out and cater to the needs of clients?
Tsuchihashi-san: I am motivated each morning by the remarkable growth and talent within our industry in Japan. With an influx of new graduates and exceptional individuals joining our field, there is an abundance of work, and our current growth rate of 10-15% per year reflects this positive environment. What also drives me is the constant pursuit of providing value to our clients and envisioning the future. In the ever-changing and competitive landscape of consulting, it is crucial to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and avoid becoming commoditized. I am always contemplating what unique qualities and offerings Qunie can bring to the table to stand out in the market and cater to the needs of our clients. The opportunity to create value for our clients serves as a powerful motivator, inspiring me to start each day with renewed energy and purpose, especially in my role as the CEO of Qunie.
That is a powerful message. My last question is a bit more personal: How do you plan to leverage your experience to make an impact also in the future, maybe even later beyond Qunie?
Tsuchihashi-san: My future plans involve continuing to lead Qunie Corp., focusing on the expansion of our services and solutions. The duration of my tenure as CEO will be determined by the company's needs and strategic direction. After my time at Qunie, I plan to contribute to the global business landscape, leveraging my extensive experience to make a meaningful impact in diverse markets. Guided by available opportunities and my unwavering commitment to success, I am motivated to continue as a leader in the industry.
Thank you very much, Ken-san, for this interesting interview!
Mr. Kapteina and Tsuchihashi-san at Qunie HQ in Tokyo, Japan, 2023
Link: Qunie Website (English)
Link: Qunie Website (Japanese)
Copyright: NTT, NTT DATA, Qunie, Keio University, OpenAI, DeepL and other company names, institutions and products mentioned are registered trademarks of the respective organizations and have been used in the creation of this interview.