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Business owner Violet Pacileo trades in Tokyo’s crazy finance scene for rural Kochi


Though many daydream about packing in that stressful city life and moving to the deep countryside, the realities of making such a change are something else entirely, especially when you have a family to think about. But this is exactly what Violet Pacileo did when she left Tokyo and her career in finance to be close to her mother, moving to Kochi Prefecture and later opening the most scenic CrossFit gym in Japan.

Pacileo has led an extremely tumultuous life, from her upbringing between Japan and the UK, working in a high-stress industry and moving to the States and back. Her latest challenge has been opening a business in the middle of rural Kochi, a move that has given her the opportunity to gain autonomy over her career and bring new energy to the town.

What was working in Tokyo’s stock market like? 

When I first started in 2006 it was a pre-financial crisis so it was booming. There were tons of expats, including traders from Wall Street and London, so it was really bustling and exciting. Then, overnight it just changed. I remember seeing the stock market and exchange rate just take a nosedive. Counterintuitively, since the fund I was working for had a long investment horizon for stocks, this was an exciting opportunity, because it was like all the stocks had suddenly gone on sale.

Finance is very fast-paced, you have to pay close attention to the news, keep your finger on the pulse, and you have to be aware of the politics that go on within companies. Of course, when you get paid a lot, there’s also a lot of stress that comes with it.

What was gender equality like in such a male-dominated industry in Japan?

The working situation came as a big shock for me, especially since I was coming from the UK. I found it really draining because, no matter how hard I worked or my successes, these “big boss men” only saw me as an object. It really affected me, I cut my hair short, I covered myself up more conservatively and at the office, I even adopted a certain persona because I thought if I wasn’t attractive maybe they would finally take me seriously. All those thoughts used to go through my head. I thought it was my fault. Fortunately, as I got older, I realized it was not, but the thoughts used to plague me constantly.

Have there been any improvements in the industry?

In some ways, the finance industry is at the forefront of change. ESG (environmental, social and governance) and SRI (socially responsible investment) investing have been around for a while, but we are seeing much more interest coming from different governments, especially in Japan. Japanese listed companies, for example, are now required to comply with the Corporate Governance Code, and there’s a bigger push for workplace diversity including gender equality.

How was your work/life balance working in finance in Tokyo?

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© Savvy Tokyo

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Kochi is wonderful, but you need loads of cash to live there since there are few job opportunities. Luckily she's loaded.

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Luckily she's loaded.

Luckily? Sounds like she had to work pretty hard to become loaded.

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Business owner Violet Pacileo trades in Tokyo’s crazy finance scene for rural Kochi

Nice article. Somehow it swerved into being about women's equality, I wonder why? I can assure you that 99% of men that enter that profession end up thrown out on their @sses.

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The crossfit gym looks great. My local ward gym in Tokyo is 140 yen per 2 hours of use so I will stick to that.

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