An Atypical VC Profile: Jingyi Wang

4 min read

The typical profile for a Dutch VC firm is a Dutch man with a finance background. Diversity is not only about gender, but also many other aspects such as culture, language, education and work experiences. We spoke with Jingyi Wang about her experience breaking into the Dutch VC world.

As a Chinese female expat in Amsterdam, with a corporate background in Shell and Accenture, she transitioned to be a VC professional at a Dutch VC firm Newion focusing on early-stage B2B SaaS startup investment. Based on her experience, she shared tips for young international professionals thinking of becoming a venture capitalist in the Netherlands.

Breaking into the Dutch VC world

Before joining Newion, Wang had varied international work experiences, specialized in HR at Shell and change management and digital consulting at Accenture. But she soon realized that she wanted to take a generalist approach to her career.

"I want to learn about different industries and different functional areas at the same time. When working in big companies, you can only grow in a specialized domain. Venture capital is the profession that combines them all."

Of course, work at international corporates is very different from local VC funds. Wondering whether it's for you and how to navigate the transition? Here are three things Wang advises you to keep in mind:

1. Look for Dutch VC firms with international ambitions and inclusive culture.

Since Newion invests in future global market leaders, it has been actively working to make its company culture open and inclusive to international hires, making it a good fit for Wang.

"I am the only woman on our team, and 80% of the team is Dutch. I grew up in Chinese culture. I used to work in companies with tens of thousands of employees with a balanced gender mix and nationality mix. In many aspects, I am very different. It took some time to adjust myself to different ways of working and communication styles. But my team also made efforts to help me feel more included.

In the first few months, some team discussions were in Dutch if I didn't need to be involved. Now everything is in English. It helped me feel more socially integrated. My colleagues also read books and watch programs about China. And I got full support from Newion to work in China for two months when my mother in China was ill.

It is a team effort and change from both sides. If a company is not ready for changes, it is difficult for an individual employee to succeed. If you need an international work environment, you want to make sure the firms you apply to have decided to aim for an international investment scope or already have other internationals on the team."

"It is a team effort and change from both sides. If a company is not ready for changes, it is difficult for an individual employee to succeed" Jingyi Wang

2. You don't have to have a background in finance but learn fast.

Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions about working in venture capital is that you need to have experience working in banks or financial institutions. But as Wang explained, there are different paths entering VC.

"Venture Capital is a multidisciplinary job. It covers, but is not limited to, strategy and operations, sales and marketing, technology and business models, HR and legal.

Diverse work experiences can bring unique perspectives when researching and evaluating investment opportunities. Finance and numbers are essential. I took a steep learning curve to catch up. However, my past roles as a change manager for digital transformation programs, a product manager of enterprise software and HR have given me insights into how teams grow, how businesses scale, and how enterprise customers work. It helped me evaluate companies from more angles than financial.

I believe people in VC need to be intellectually hungry and learn fast. For those who want to join VC from corporates or consulting, I recommend finding connections of your current role to the skill sets required by VCs. For example: product, go-to-market, or industry knowledge. And be prepared to spend evenings and weekends to self-study all the new fields that you have never been exposed to."

3. Reach out to your team and relevant networks for help and mentorship.

If you find yourself struggling with certain aspects of the transition to VC, reach out to others who may have gone through a similar experience. Wang joined some networks such as a female mentorship program and Asian investors in Europe group to help adapt to a new work environment.

"In the beginning, the changes can be overwhelming. Sometimes you face challenges, but they're hard to define. It helps to explore them with other people who have or are facing similar challenges.

From my cultural background, I sometimes feel intimidated to speak in front of more senior people. If this happens, I cannot show what I know nor my full potential. After some mentor sessions from the Level20 female mentorship group, I knew I am not the only one. Women naturally are better listeners and less likely to speak up in group meetings. It takes guts but mainly practice: start acting, break it down to concrete and small steps, track it over time until it becomes so natural.

Another thing about VC different from corporates, there is no ready-made competency framework for you anymore. You need to figure out the development plan by yourself and align it with the partners."

A more diverse VC team

"When we talk about diversity, we often address gender. In fact, it's a broader topic. The minority team member and the whole team need to work together to make a VC firm's culture more diverse and engaging."

Greater diversity will bring greater strength and innovation to the Dutch startup ecosystem, but we need your help to make this a reality. If you're a Dutch VC firm that's committed to building a more equal and inclusive future, join the #FundRight movement today.