While growing up, Amy Zhang wasn't aware of a glass ceiling. She was lucky, says the senior vice president and portfolio manager of the Alger Small Cap Focus and Alger Small Cap Growth strategies, to be influenced by the strong women in her own family.
"Because of my maternal grandmother and my mother, I always thought women should be able to achieve anything," Zhang says.
As a young woman, her grandmother was the only female student to major in chemistry at her university in Shanghai. Amy's mother is a chemical engineer. Having benefited from the guidance of women who encouraged her achievements, Zhang now helps guide other women and minorities on their paths to success.
Amy and her mother provided their insight for the 2016 book "Breaking Through! Helping Girls Succeed in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math." In 2015, Amy established a STEM scholarship at Manhattanville College, her undergraduate alma mater, for freshman students from underrepresented populations who have an interest in STEM and women's studies.
She is also a founding member of the Mulan Club, a nonprofit support organization for professional Asian women. It's important to "help other women along the way and empower them, especially mentoring younger women," she says. She adds, "I also really enjoy learning from other successful women."
Zhang has definitely made an impact at Alger. The Small Cap Focus fund, for which she is the sole PM, has increased its total net assets by 4,781% (as of March) since she became manager in February 2015. The fund jumped from a Morningstar Percentile Rank of 64% in 2016 to 10% on a one-year basis and 9% on a three-year basis.
What inspires her is "building something from scratch, watching it blossom and making a significant impact."
She adds, "It's all about impact, in terms of contribution - to the firm, to society. I think that's the most important driver for me."