FinTech Female Fridays: Meet Shirley Wu, Investor at Partnership Fund for NYC
We continue the celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) month with another feature of an inspiring woman in this week's Fintech Female Friday series.
Shirley Wu is an investor at Partnership Fund for NYC, and is at a point in her career where she is finding more purpose combined with passion for finance. She started in Wholesale Credit at Bank of America but a pivot into a sales role was an opportunity to break into equity research. It was challenging as Shirley was ramping up while taking on a more senior role in place of a senior analyst. She enjoyed these moments of change because it pushed her to grow and learn very quickly, and also allowed more opportunities early in her career. After equity research, Shirley became a Vice President in macro strategy research working with the Chief Investment Strategist at Bank of America.
At that point, her purpose-driven mindset pushed her into impact investing, at the intersection of public and private stakeholders. Partnership Fund for NYC is a non-profit evergreen venture capital fund investing in NYC-based start-ups with social or environmental impacts, or are catalyzing innovation and economic development in NYC. Shirley works on sourcing, due diligence, and executing deals in early-stage equity and debt covering FinTech, Life Sciences, Planetary Health and Social Impact.
The culture is conducive to self-starters. Shirley has ownership over the deals she works on with, and enjoys that she has a direct say in which events she goes to and with whom she meets. The most inspiring aspect about this industry is that "you meet so many brilliant people who are working towards making the world a better place," says Shirley.
Shirley is a generalist investor with a specific focus on FinTech for the unbanked and the underbanked, and helps marginalized communities create wealth through better access to capital and financial literacy. Partnership Fund for NYC also has the FinTech Innovation Lab that supports early- to growth-stage tech companies to refine and test their value proposition with resources from the world’s leading financial service firms.
More on Shirley
Where you currently live: Hell’s Kitchen
Favorite part of your day: Sunsets
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Favorite hobby: Boxing, Hiking, Cooking, Traveling
Media inspiration: “Poverty is not just a lack of money; it is not having the capability to realize one’s full potential as a human being” - Amartya Sen, this quote deeply moved me. This is one of the reasons I do impact investing, that is to bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
What's the best job decision you ever made? What's the worst job decision you ever made?
My best job decision was career pivot into impact investing. It’s hard to pivot and start over and there are very real challenges of rebuilding relationships, networks, and expertise - but it’s worth it. I’m working towards a career that I genuinely feel passionate about. And that makes even the toughest days worth it. My biggest mistake was to think a career choice is permanent. Our careers are fluid, and there’s so much freedom when you acknowledge that.
Can you tell us about a time someone encouraged you to try a task or take on a project you didn’t think that you would know how to do/or be good at?
I’ve been blessed with a lot of mentors who have encouraged and supported during career pivots. They are voices that have spoken words of affirmation into my life, have given me sound advice, have connected me with the right people, have pushed me to think about situations in different angles, and have reassured me in times of anxiety.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from a mistake you’ve made in the past?
A consistent lesson that I’ve learned is to be resilient. As bad as some mistakes can be, they are typically temporary and might last only for a brief season of your life. But if you’re resilient, if you learn and move on from that mistake, you always come out stronger than you were before.
Do you have any productivity hacks? What keeps you motivated? How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I work while acknowledging where my head space is. If I’m feeling productive, I work non-stop and maximize those hours. If I run into a slump, I’d rather take a break, go on a coffee run, go work out, or have a stimulating conversations over wine with a friend before going back to work. That actually increases productivity and mental/emotional health in the long run.
7:30 am: wake up, coffee and quiet time on my patio
8:30 am: commute to the office and listen to a podcast/ book
Workday: a mix of chatting with start-ups, demo days, conferences, company diligence, etc
Afterwork: networking events with an aim to go to 2-3 a week, and aim to get drinks/coffee with someone new at least 1-2 times a week
9:00 pm: work-out / read / unwind before heading to sleep