One minute with: Michael Blake, UBP

Michael Blake, Asia CEO of Union Bancaire Privee, talks skiing, where he'd love to stay in Beijing and what he listened to during the sale of Coutts International to UBP last year.
One minute with: Michael Blake, UBP

Michael Blake was appointed Asia chief executive for private banking at Union Bancaire Privée on completion of the Swiss firm's acquisition of Coutts International in April.

Prior to this, he had been CEO of Coutts International since 2015. Blake joined Coutts in London in 2011 and became head of Asia in 2012. Before that, he worked in Hong Kong as head of UBS’s Asia-Pacific management office. 

Blake has spent some 15 years in Asia, including 10 in Hong Kong and three in Singapore.

He studied Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University in the UK and has studied Mandarin in Beijing. 

AsianInvestor: What’s your favourite restaurant, and why?
Michael Blake: Outside Asia, L'Ideal in Megeve [in France], where I proposed to my wife. In Asia, Nicolas Le Restaurant in Singapore – it has fantastic food and a friendly owner.

What’s your favourite hotel, and why?
The Oriental in Bangkok: nobody does it better.

Which movie have you enjoyed recently? 
Frozen. Over and over again, thanks to my eldest daughter.

Which film(s) would count to among your favourites?
'Red Sorghum' by Zhang Yimou had a big impact because I remember watching it when I was learning Mandarin. I didn't understand a word at first, but the storyline and cinematography were arresting.

Which sport(s) do you enjoy watching and/or playing?
I jog most days. I also love the crisp cold and camaraderie of the mountains, best summed up by the bi-annual Coeur Blanc charity ski challenge [in France], which I recommend to any skier. Teams must complete a ride on each of Meribel's 52 lifts within one day.

What’s your favourite country and/or city?
Hong Kong for its energy, Singapore for its comfort and foresight.

Where would you most like to visit, and why?
I'd love to spend a weekend in Zhongnanhai [an imperial garden adjacent to the Forbidden City in Beijing], but I'm not holding my breath.

What’s the best business book you’ve read?
'The Seven Habits' by Stephen Covey. Timeless, sound advice which has every day relevance, particularly in a world of continuous and instantaneous communication.

What’s your favourite drink?
Mint tea by day, red wine by night 

Do you have any pet peeves?
Negativity – life is too short.

What’s your favourite place to stay in the world?
I have been fortunate to travel widely, so for me anywhere with family and friends is the right place to be. 

What do you sing in the shower?
I don't sing in the shower, but I do listen to music each morning. During the presentations for the sale of Coutts [to UBP, last year]. I listened to Titanium [by Katy Perry]. Now I listen to Happy by Pharrell Williams.

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