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Rie Okubo

Partner, Consulting - Deloitte Japan

We are the women in AI—the women who are at the forefront of transformation. We look at challenges from a different angle, drive innovation with impact, and are passionate about AI that champions diversity and fairness. We are the women in AI—but we represent only 26% of data and AI positions in the workforce1. There should be more of us. If you are in AI today, let us help you grow. If not, come and join us.

She’s building the future with AI

In school, Rie Okubo had little interest in math and science. But one day, she decided to take a programming class. “I didn’t do it because I was interested in it initially,” she recalls. But having taken it, it sparked her interest and planted the seed for her future career.

Rie went on to study economics at university and initially didn’t have much connection to programming, let alone AI. She changed jobs a few times until she was inspired at an AI conference that led to her joining Deloitte in 2011. Rie remembers, “I met someone from Deloitte UK who gave a presentation on robotics at an AI conference in Lisbon, Portugal.” She was intrigued by the talk and thought about the potential applications of robotics and intelligent automation for one of her current projects. “So, I talked to him and we wanted to combine AI with our current efforts on the project to redesign the client’s operations.” This encounter would later steer her to lead the Intelligent Automation market offering in Japan.

What fascinates Rie about AI is that it can be applied to an extremely wide range of fields. She says, “It's really fun to think about how AI can be applied, or where it can be applied together with technology we already have.” She particularly enjoys thinking about new ways AI can be used to solve her clients' business problems. “We often apply AI to things we haven't applied it to in the past. Together with a client, we seek out these opportunities and in a lot of the cases it's now a proven method.” Rie believes in deploying AI to help humans do things better. “People and machines work together. Both have experiences and use that experience to make things more effective and efficient.”

Reflecting on her experience as a woman in intelligent automation, Rie says: “My experience as a woman… oh, there aren’t very many women, actually!” She would like to see more gender diversity in AI, as it would allow for new perspectives on solving difficult problems. Rie is certain, “Women in my field have a lot of great ideas! It’s exciting to hear about new ideas that you can actually build into a tangible solution. Sometimes ideas come from within my team, sometimes outside my team, from within the firm, or sometimes from friends in other countries.”

Rie wants to encourage women to join Deloitte in the AI field. “What’s unique about Deloitte is that we build strong relationships—within our teams, within the firm and with different organisations.” She believes in Deloitte’s mission as a company to change society for the better. “I think the most important skill at Deloitte is not about coding or about knowing all different kinds of tools. That’s something you can learn after you start your career. The most important skill is the ability to have a vision of the future.” Rie firmly believes that Deloitte is not just thinking about the future but making it: “We can build it together and it’s really fun!”

1World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report 2020

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