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Storytelling with William Blair: Leadership


Kristina Blaschek
Director of Business and Technology Solutions William Blair Investment Management

The best word to describe Kristina Blaschek, she says, is “curious.” Her friends and colleagues might agree. But they might also argue for “hardworking,” “inclusive,” “leader”— or just “dynamo.”

Blaschek joined William Blair in 2007 as a sell-side healthcare researcher and moved up the ranks to become director of business and technology solutions for the Investment Management group. In this new role, created for her, Blaschek evaluates the way technology is evolving in society and identifies opportunities for the firm to develop, innovate, and embrace technology to make better investment decisions for our clients.

The role builds on her investment banking experience at J.P. Morgan, where she began work in 2002, and later at Lazard Middle Market. It keeps her on the cutting edge of the energy in the markets, which first dazzled her as a summer intern in the pits of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. She had been pre-med, but ended with a degree in finance.

“I think it was because I’m more of a doer,” she says. “Given my personality, there’s no way I could be in school for another 10 to 15 years.”

Blaschek also heads the Women’s Alliance at William Blair, a business resource group to help women network with one another and to develop their careers and lives inside and outside work. She brings a lot of experience from her own family life and career as a first-generation Chinese-American.

“I come from a very close-knit, extended family with strong women who work hard and have become successful,” says Blaschek, whose mother and aunts immigrated to the United States from Hong Kong as teenagers. “I grew up with the challenges that my mom and aunts faced, having English as a second language, and just being minorities and women.”

Blaschek learned early the value of going after your passions. “Women often don’t open up about what they want to do because they feel like they’re not ready,” she says. “If there’s a job they want, they won’t raise their hand unless they’ve met every qualification. Men could meet none of the qualifications and say: ‘I’m interested.’ So when I meet with my team members I ask them, what are you interested in?”

Blaschek has also stood up against preconceptions that women can’t balance the demands of a career and family life. As a mother of two who earned an M.B.A. while working full time, she says you make things happen, asking for help when you need it, and re-prioritizing every day.

Blaschek advises colleagues to stay true to themselves—lessons learned from her first boss out college. He always stressed, “know who you are and always follow up.”

His advice still resonates with Blaschek. She knew his story, a successful banker without fitting the mold she’d imagine. “He was very religious, he didn’t drink, he didn’t smoke and, on top of it, he didn’t like to golf,” she laughs.

She is encouraged by the broader sweep focusing on diversity in business—the diverse viewpoints you only get with different races, genders, and backgrounds.

“It seems like everyone is focused on diversity. I’m not so sure everyone is focused on inclusion and they really need to be,” says Blaschek. “The Women’s Alliance, for example, started with networking and morphed into something bigger.”

The evolution has included bringing in men as members. “A natural boys’ club does exist, but how do you get them to start including women?” she asks. “You don’t know what you don’t know. So we thought: ‘Let’s make an inclusive environment and bring in men and learn from each other.’”

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