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I'm Lily Ngo

Associate, Client Services

AlphaSights Japan

Bachelor of Arts in International Social Sciences

University of Tsukuba


Vietnamese, English, Japanese

I'm Lily Ngo

Associate, Client Services

AlphaSights Japan

Bachelor of Arts in International Social Sciences

University of Tsukuba


Vietnamese, English, Japanese


Discover more about this company including job opportunities and company information on JPort Match!


Discover more about this company including job opportunities and company information on JPort Match!

About Lily Ngo

My name is Lily and I am from Vietnam. I was born and raised in the capital city of Hanoi until I was 18, when I received a scholarship for the Tsukuba University undergraduate program for social science. Before I finished my Bachelor's degree, I received a job offer from AlphaSights through LinkedIn. Since July 2020, I have been working in the client service team. 

What we do at AlphaSights is connect experts to consulting firms and global companies on a global scale, and I am a part of the client service team mainly in charge of sales.

What did you do during college?

Highly active in internships, extracurricular activities, and academic performance

I worked at several internships and joined student clubs. For instance, I was in a student club that helped international students at Tsukuba University find jobs in Japan. We connected students with Japanese companies and provided internship opportunities specifically in Tsukuba. I was also in a fan circle (同好会, Doukoukai) for baking. While juggling internships and extracurricular activities, I also spent a lot of time studying and had the highest GPA in my major.

Why Tsukuba University and Why Japan?

Pursuing an International and English-Speaking Environment

As an English major, I was more comfortable speaking in English. So, I wanted to learn in an international environment such as at Tsukuba University. The global program at Tsukuba University provided a desirable environment for me and was targeted at international students from Southeast Asia who are interested in a social science major like myself. 

Another reason why I decided to enter Tsukuba University was for the scholarship program, which allowed me to continue my studies as well as aid my living fees.

How did you reach your Japanese proficiency?

Engaging in communities that consisted of Japanese students

In high school, my major was Japanese studies. I believe second language learners can relate, but schools typically focus on standardized tests rather than the ability to communicate in the language. So by the time I got to university, I had already passed JLPT N2, but I could not speak the language well. The obstacle I faced was that I did not feel that my speaking abilities in Japanese were as advanced as my writing skills.

Overcoming this barrier was all about application. Oftentimes, international students tend to join communities from their native land that do not interact with Japanese students. To me, this is a waste of time. I made an effort to come to Japan, and I want to talk to the local people and experience the culture to its fullest. So, I joined the baking club and engaged in opportunities to speak only in Japanese. I also joined Korean classes where there were only Japanese students. I pushed myself to join places where only Japanese students were. I was also very open to anyone helping me to improve my Japanese speaking skills. At times, my peers helped me with my pronunciation. After that, my Japanese speaking skill improved significantly even within a short period of time in university.

What career advice would you recommend for job hunters?

Learn the shukatsu process

The first piece of advice is to learn and understand the so-called "shukatsu” (就活) process. Finding a job in Japan versus finding a job in your home country is different. There's already an established system in Japan which is distinctive from the world, even among Southeast Asian countries. Students should research to understand the timeline and expectations of companies during shukatsu.

Know your career goals

The second is to have a very clear goal of what you want in your career. A good start will be to know why you want to find a job in Japan, which industry and jobs you are interested in, and what skills–ones that you cultivated from past experiences–can you use when working. You can also imagine yourself 10 years from now. Finding a job in Japan is not hard, but finding a good job that will suit you is. A clear goal can be a motivation and guide for your shukatsu journey. 

Take any opportunities

My last advice is to venture out more and get any kind of career opportunities that you can. Of course, internships are a valuable experience, but it is also crucial to connect with your alumni and employees who are already in the company you are interested to work in. By doing so, you can ask questions like “How did they find a job in Japan?” You can also use networking services like JPort Match or platforms like LinkedIn or Wantedly to find people to connect with. By connecting with such people, you get a chance to ask about the current market needs and how you can meet those demands.

What was your career goal?

The journey to becoming an entrepreneur

When I was a student, my goal was to start my own business. I did many internships and connected with founders of startups or ventures to learn what I was getting into. That is why I think AlphaSights was an excellent environment for me because I was given autonomy and responsibilities during a really early stage of my career. When I first started, I was on an actual project already from my second day. In my second month, I had to lead two projects. Now, after 1.5 years since I started, I lead around 10 projects. While the working environment at AlphaSights feels like a startup, it offers a higher salary.

What are the beneficial skills needed for working in Japan?

Business communication in English and Japanese

Business communication, in both English and Japanese, is essential, especially if you want to have value as a global talent in the Japanese and overseas job-hunting market. From the perspective of a Japanese employer, many would like to hire someone already fluent in Japanese and English rather than someone from abroad who does not speak Japanese very well. I recommend polishing your language skills to a business level as it is competitive for international students.

Professional attitude in emails and phone calls

Being able to use keigo (敬語)  to write emails and take calls in the business language is also important. You can learn this from older employees, but you will have to be the one to learn by yourself. If you want to strive at an early age and be successful at your job, I advise you to self-learn and implement your own business communication style in your day-to-day work. However, I do not want you to be fixated on your language capability. There were numerous cases where I worked with clients who were better at Japanese than I was, and from these experiences, I realized that what is more important is the quality of work I provided and how I present myself as a professional.


As I work on international projects as an associate, most of my experts are from Japan, the UK, the US, or countries in Europe. So, I have to understand various business cultures from around the globe. When working with clients who have a business culture that I am not used to, I have to find a reasonable middle point to continue working with them. 

Negotiation and Persuasion skills

Apart from being adaptable, another soft skill you should have is the ability to negotiate. As I mentioned before, it's essential to manage your relationships with your clients and their expectations. Of course, this is not limited to only the clients but also the experts and the internal colleagues in other offices. For example, if my project is looking into China, I would offer to help, but I don't think I will be as helpful as a Chinese colleague in the Shanghai office. Even within AlphaSights, there are difficulties in communicating or implementing a different working style as we have a very diverse office culture. 

If you do not have negotiation or persuasion skills, it will be difficult for you to participate in projects with multiple parties within your job. As an associate, you will also need to negotiate the prices with clients as well as persuade your potential customer to use your service rather than lose to a competitor.

What does an Associate, Client Services Do?

What are the hurdles of your current work?

Finding your own work-life balance

The first hurdle is maintaining work-life balance. As a Client Service Associate, I have to attend to clients almost anytime. Often, I respond to my clients after working hours at night. As the bonus is uncapped at AlphaSights, many young and ambitious employees tend to stay back after work hours voluntarily to progress business or to reach the target goal and to get more bonuses. This sometimes leads to an unbalance between work and personal life. 

To avoid this, I manage my work-life balance by clarifying which dates and times I can respond to my clients. For example, I will respond to emails around 7 PM to 8 PM on Sundays and sometimes after dinner on weekdays. But, when working on weekdays, I tell myself that I will only be working for 20~30 minutes after hours.

Competitive but stimulating environment 

The second hurdle that I faced was competitiveness. AlphaSights has an environment where people are self-driven and expect a lot from themselves. Although I sometimes feel my teammates are ahead of me, I think of them as powerful allies. We support each other to improve performance which gives us a win-win situation because the more the team brings in deals, the more we get rewards as a team.

Work Environment AlphaSights Japan

How is the Culture at AlphaSights?

Having autonomy and responsibility from an early stage

I like the work culture at AlphaSights as they gave me autonomy and responsibility at an early stage of my career. I'm already working as an account specialist managing our relationships with a consulting client account. Although it was a difficult task and a heavy responsibility, I was able to learn how to work with these clients well. If I fail, it's my responsibility, but if I succeed, it's also my credit, and my team supports me. So, working in AlphaSights allows you to be surrounded by a supportive but challenging environment where you can thrive and grow. Also, by being given autonomy and responsibility, during the pandemic, we are also given the choice to work from home or at the office on Thursdays and Fridays.

No bias in the workplace

There are no biases in the workplace: there is no gender bias or age bias and such. At AlphaSights, you get a promotion regardless of your age, gender, or nationality. There are three female managers and two Vietnamese managers at our Tokyo office. What matters at AlphaSights are your results and capability.

Uncapped bonus

As I previously mentioned, the bonus is uncapped. This makes me feel that I have the potential to do anything. The system is very fair, and it's very transparent that your performance is in the number of sales you make. In many Japanese companies, it is unclear how much bonus the employee can get or the bonus is already capped. I prefer to receive a salary based on the quality that I can offer.

Visa Support / Free drinks and snacks!

As an international student, I received support getting a worker visa and tenure. AlphaSights did all the procedures for obtaining a visa without costing me. I did not have to do anything other than submit documents. The same was for my insurance and tenure application too. This was very helpful for an international student unfamiliar with the Japanese system, like myself. I also enjoy the office environment–we have free drinks and snacks, which is helpful whenever I need an extra emotional uplift. 

Recommended Job-hunting Resource

Job portal services specialized for international students is a good start to not waste your time applying to companies that are not seeking to recruit international students. 

I also recommend you to set your profile, grow your network, and post once a week to upsell yourself as a professional on platforms like LinkedIn and Wantedly. With the latter, I got scouted by AlphaSights initially via LinkedIn. Job portal websites like リクナビ, マイナビ can also help you find Japanese companies to apply for; for gaishi companies, 外資就活 and ONE CAREER. You should also attend job fairs like Boston Career Forum and ジョブ博. 

Message to students who will be applying for AlphaSights?

Please enjoy the challenge you face and think of the challenge as an opportunity instead. We would love to have you here working with us.