FinTech Female Fridays: Meet CEO and Founder, Liang Zhao
Updated: May 3, 2021
Prolific networker and start-up accelerator, Liang Zhao, is utilizing these skills for her recent entrepreneurial venture. Fueled by passion for FinTech and democratization of finance for those underserved, Liang and her team are working diligently to elevate the voices of women, people of color, and small businesses. Immigrating to the United States from China at just nine years old, Liang’s career was built on her resilience and eagerness to tackle the corporate world.
Full name: Liang Zhao
Current job title: CEO and Founder
Current company: Vansary
Current location: Brooklyn, New York
Hometown: Luoyang, Henan, China
“My mission is to amplify individuals and businesses who have been historically underrepresented in the media and accelerate the democratization of access to financial products and information.”
At the age of 20, Liang Zhao started her career in business development at The Receivables Exchange in New Orleans, a FinTech startup that challenged legacy receivables financing solutions.
Liang immigrated to the US at the age of nine with her parents with almost nothing to a city without any Chinese community or representation. Assimilating at a young age taught her resilience by navigating language and cultural barriers which later helped her tackle the corporate environment as one of the few women of color in finance and sales.
Raised by acupuncturist parents in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the world of finance and corporate America was vast and new to Liang and something she had to experience and conquer. After graduating from Tulane University with her Masters in Finance and multiple marketing job offers on the table, she decided to move to NYC to pursue consultative sales.
Liang built her network and corporate career helping Fortune 500 companies expand across 20 countries at TransPerfect and managed key relationships with large financial institutions across asset managers, banks, hedge funds and insurers at Moody’s Analytics.
After seven years of working with corporations, Liang circled back to her true passion, building startups and helping them grow, a passion she recognized early on while helping her parents grow their acupuncture practice as a teenager. She became a publicist for FinTech startups and venture capital firms, utilizing her years of financial services experience to craft relevant stories and amplifying founders.
Liang found Vansary in late 2019, which is a certified Woman and Minority-Owned marketing agency elevating individuals and companies who are affecting social and economic change through FinTech and enterprise technology innovations, helping leaders build relationships with the media, developing thought leadership platforms and hosting (in-person, virtual and hybrid) events.
“I love championing mission-driven leaders and businesses to take up space, communicate their value proposition and tell their stories... As someone who has had the pleasure of working with so many amazing individuals who don’t fit the majority description in this country, I can’t help but quote Arlan Hamilton, ‘It’s about damn time.’”
Liang’s mission is to amplify individuals and businesses who have been historically underrepresented in the media and accelerate the democratization of access to financial products and information. Vansary sits at the intersection of venture capital, startup, media, corporate professionals, small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Liang has been a huge contributor to NYC Fintech Women, having helped with organizing event panels, leading communication and media relations for the annual Inspiring FinTech Females list, and co-hosting virtual networking events in continuation of our organization’s mission during the pandemic.
More on Liang
Favorite hobby: Cooking, dancing, getting to know cultures and people through food and travel
Favorite part of your day: Since the start of 2021, I have cut back on my alcohol consumption and have picked up breakfast. My morning matcha latte and breakfast ritual have quickly become the favorite part of my day as I lean into my cravings, which have included chorizo breakfast tacos, waffles and bacon, to congee with Youtiao and Chinese pickles.
Productivity hack: As an entrepreneur and business owner, one of the biggest challenges is to continuously push projects and initiatives forward on my own with minimal direction and no external deadlines. My three productivity hacks:
Roleplay: prioritize business plans, establish targets, create processes for your company as you would for a client.
Time discipline: set a consistent block of time each day that is specifically meant for work, whatever that means to you, ranging from 90-120 minutes. Let those in your household know and try your best to avoid distractions, including but not limited to friendly calls, online shopping, reading the news, and personal investing. Block out separate times for those equally as important activities.
Pre-plan your days: my to-do list is daunting. If your list is like mine, plan it out as far out as you can but look no further than the next hour with each task.
8:00 AM: I slowly wake up by deleting spam emails. I make specialty coffee for my husband and start my morning ritual of breakfast, a matcha latte, and light stretches in the kitchen to fully wake up. We take pride in buying coffee from global vendors and small businesses in the US. Pergamino from Medellin, Colombia and SightGlass from SF are two of our favorite coffee vendors.
9:00 AM: My workday starts promptly at 9 every day - I respond to emails and check google alerts for clients and industry-relevant news.
10:00 AM: Team priority and client status check-in call. We create agendas, individual to-dos, talk through big wins and any challenges that we are facing.
10:45 AM to 12:00 PM: Depending on the the week, I can be found managing vendors, drafting blast emails, crafting decks, creating content, reaching out to conference organizers or building relationships between our corporate clients and vendor partners.
12:00 to 1:30 PM: Client calls and weekly catch-ups.
1:30 to 2:00 PM: Quick lunch of leftovers or takeout food from the nearby Dekalb Market.
2:00 PM: For one hour, I reflect upon what is going well and what needs additional attention at Vansary, such as our website, social media, and messaging. Additionally, I take the time to make sure that we as a company are growing in line with our mission.
3:00 to 5:00 PM: Client work.
5:00 PM: Mentor session with my mentee.
5:45 PM: My husband and I make dinner together. Tonight, the menu includes a whole roasted cauliflower with za'atar and chile glazed salmon.
7:00 PM: Casually wrap up emails from the day, work on my to-do list for Wednesday and watch something on Netflix.
11:00 PM: Bedtime.
5:00 AM: Without fail, I have one day a week where I wake up early and cannot go back to sleep. Now, I have embraced it by making an indulgent breakfast, doing a little online shopping, and completing one to-do list item that requires absolute focus and attention.
7:45 AM: 30-minute peloton ride followed by 10 minutes of stretching.
9:00 to 11:15 AM: Client work.
11:15 AM: Make and eat lunch. On the menu: Greek salad with Cajun shrimp.
12:00 to 1:30 PM: Client calls.
1:30 to 2:30 PM: Post-call client work and email catch-up.
2:30 to 3:00 PM: Quick run to Trader Joe’s to clear my head and get dinner ingredients.
3:00 PM: Networking and new connection outreach. I always make time during my week to meet new people and find ways to collaborate and learn.
4:00 PM: Team catchup.
4:30 PM: 30-45 minute power nap.
5:15 PM: Start prepping dinner. On the menu: red wine braised lamb shank with saffron and raisin rice. Junior’s carrot cheesecake for dessert.
7:00 PM: Officially shut down my computer. Enjoy some good TV and dinner.
Reach out to Liang on LinkedIn.