Asset management is the ultimate meritocracy. Performance is measured in results and the sky is the limit for what a woman can achieve, even though it’s a male-dominated industry. As a senior portfolio manager, I’ve embarked on several initiatives to welcome women into the business and support them throughout their careers.
In 2015, I established the AYZ STEM scholarship at Manhattanville College for female students from underrepresented populations who intend to study STEM. I believe that women should support and empower each other. At Alger, I spend a great deal of time coaching our female analysts.
I also mentor women through my affiliations with the CFA Institute, Columbia Business School and the Asian Financial Society, as well as through my affiliation with the Mulan Club, where I serve on the board. I believe in the power of a network and strong role models. Both my mother and grandmother were preeminent chemical engineers in China, and I inherited their intellectual curiosity and strong work ethic.
I also believe we can make investment management more accessible to women by showing them the realities of the work I do, alongside many other esteemed and accomplished female portfolio managers. If women, especially younger women, can better understand what it takes to succeed in investment management, they can prepare themselves for the inevitable challenges ahead.
Availing oneself of the benefits of education, networks, role models and mentors can build confidence, which I believe is critical to making investment decisions and maintaining conviction in one’s views. It’s also paramount to work hard — work extra hard, actually. Your efforts will pay dividends. You’ll always gain new knowledge, and you’ll sharpen your skills.
If you truly want to soar, become comfortable with making personal sacrifices. Sometimes you may miss out on personal time or family time. Your career will make this demand of you. Consider a portfolio manager who’s raising assets. It’s an incredibly demanding endeavor, but I think it’s critical to meet with any potential client, no matter the size of the investment. This is how you build a franchise from scratch. Stay focused and energized. Concentrate on the goal. Go above and beyond to get the job done.
I’ve only ever accepted roles to which I could commit myself 150% plus. I believe others should similarly devote themselves based on their emotional and experiential capacity. When a significant opportunity presents itself, it’s critical to be professionally and mentally prepared to tackle it. In my experience, full commitment and mental toughness will reap benefits.
I think women should position themselves for success by pushing their own limits and delivering their best performance. In fact, I don’t believe that one knows what she is capable of until she actually tries. I once traveled through Luxembourg, Amsterdam and Belgium between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10:30 p.m. in a single day during an intense 10-day roadshow trip to Europe. I didn’t know I could push myself that far, but opportunities arose and I seized them.
I strongly believe that one should always maximize her efforts and I think that women who do that will go far in asset management. Know yourself and know whether the intensity of your drive matches the demands of asset management. If you want to be successful, you must power through adversity and setbacks. I believe your resilience will pay off and you will be better at your job.
Keep up your confidence but always be humble. When the market turns against you, you’ll learn from your mistakes and take stock of how you can improve. On the other hand, don’t shy away from having a contrarian view; your conviction could prove very rewarding, so don’t doubt yourself.
Stay driven and focused. Push yourself to achieve your greatest excellence and you may encounter the vast rewards of investment management. Many women have done so, and I believe others can too.
Andrew is half-human, half-gamer. He’s also a science fiction author writing for BleeBot.