In July 2022, three Simon-Kucher consultants who had never met each other before found themselves in Tokyo and decided to climb Mount Fuji. They reveal what inspired them to set off on this adventure together, what it was like on the peak, and what they learned from the experience.
Hi Ann-Kathrin, Kohei, and Meyssam! Thanks so much for talking to us about your amazing achievement today. Could you each please tell us a little about yourselves?
Ann-Kathrin: I guess I’ll start, my name is Ann. I joined Simon-Kucher in 2018 as a working student in the Vienna office. I then started full time in 2020 in the Cologne office, where I’m now a senior consultant. I was in Tokyo for 10 days, working on a project for a chemical company when Meyssam asked me to join the Mt Fuji adventure.
Kohei: Hi, I'm Kohei. I joined Simon-Kucher last October (2021). I'm a consultant based in the Tokyo office. At work, I’m currently on a project in the consumer sector. Outside of work I like to exercise – I’m really into kickboxing these days!
Meyssam: My name is Meyssam. I'm also a senior consultant here at Simon-Kucher. I started off as an intern in 2019, and, like Ann, I joined as a consultant in 2020. I’m based in the Munich office, but I spent one month in Japan for a project.
So, what inspired you all to climb Mt Fuji?
Meyssam: When I think about Japan, certain images come to my head. One of those images is Mount Fuji. In addition, as consultants we always look at new challenges to overcome and problems to solve. So, not only did I want to truly experience this lasting, historic, powerful symbol of Japan, but I wanted to feel a real sense of success from having climbed the highest point in the country.
Kohei: As a Japanese person, you’d think I would’ve already climbed Mount Fuji, but I’d never been before. And I was a member of the Mountaineering Club in high school! Also, my grandparents had a small lodge at the bottom of the mountain, and still I hadn't had a chance to climb it. I thought this was a good opportunity to finally do so.
Ann-Kathrin: Yeah, I think I joined because this was just such a wild idea. I wanted to go for the challenge and the experience. But also, I think this is what Simon-Kucher culture is about, right? Sometimes, someone has a great idea, and you just have to go for it! It wasn’t easy, we hiked through the whole night. We started at 8:00 p.m. and walked with head lamps all night to see the sunrise. It was a crazy challenge.
Wow! How long did it take to climb through the night? And how did you support each other through difficult moments?
Meyssam: It took around six to seven hours. We reached the top of the mountain at around 3:30 a.m. There were times when one of us would feel a little dizzy, so we would give each other the time we needed to rest, eat, and hydrate.
How did you feel when you got to the top?
Ann-Kathrin: It was amazing. We were sitting there with rescue blankets on because it was 2 degrees Celsius…
Kohei: …there was snow!
Meyssam: The view was amazing. You could see the outskirts of Tokyo. The scenery was changing rapidly. Every 10 seconds there was another view of the sunrise. It was unbelievable.
Kohei: The weather wasn’t very good, it was a bit cloudy, but it added to the beauty. The clouds kept moving and changing, revealing parts of the sky at some points, and the sun’s rays at other points. We could also see the lakes around Mount Fuji, which was beautiful.
Ann-Kathrin: Yeah, the clouds also made it a little misty, which was nice. All you could hear was the wind, oh and other hikers.
So, you weren’t the only ones with this crazy idea?
Meyssam: No. You can only climb Mount Fuji for two months in the whole year, otherwise it’s too dangerous. We climbed the mountain on the first weekend of that available period, so there were lots of other people there.
And it wasn’t just Japanese hikers. The US army have a military camp near the mountain. So, there were lots of Americans as well with their families. The country had also opened up again for tourists after two and a half years, which also added to the number of people hiking up the mountain that weekend.
And did you have any personal epiphanies or sense of achievement when you reached the top? What did you learn about yourself through the climb?
Ann-Kathrin: I not only learned something about myself but who we are as Simon-Kucher. Meyssam, Kohei, and I barely knew each other, and yet still we were able to achieve something like this together. Climbing Japan’s highest point as a team.
Meyssam: I still remember the feeling that we had at the bottom of the mountain. We could see the moon – was dark and beautiful. At that point I thought: “OK, I'm here in this country to work, right? And we work hard from Monday to Friday, but now it's Saturday, and we’re in one of the best places ever.” And it was all thanks to our work at Simon-Kucher in Japan.
What advice would you give to other colleagues who are seeking to achieve something like this outside of work?
Ann-Kathrin: Surround yourself with the right people to cheer you on and back you up.
Meyssam: If something sounds crazy at first glance, try it out! Research it, see if it’s possible, and, if it is, go for it!
Kohei: I never imagined that I’d climb Mount Fuji with my colleagues until Meyssam asked me, and it’s one of the best experiences I’ve had at Simon-Kucher. So, my first piece of advice would be: Don’t be afraid to plan these sorts of things. And the second would be: Don’t be afraid to ask others to join you.
Thanks so much Ann, Meyssam, and Kohei for sharing your amazing adventure with us today!