Amazon is celebrating Women’s History Month by recognizing women who are embracing—and creating—equity. Our #SheIsAmazon series spotlights women at Amazon who have pushed past barriers to achieve their dreams while lifting up others along the way.
In the fifth installment in the series, we introduce Phoebe Wang, an investment partner who is passionate about the role of women in addressing climate change through technology.
Tell us about yourself and your role at Amazon.
I lead the Climate Pledge Fund’s Female Founder Initiative, which invests in companies working on climate technologies that can help address global warming. My work involves leading investments in a wide array of companies. For example, I just led Amazon’s investment in Genecis Bioindustries, a company working on creating fully biodegradable bioplastics, which are an alternative to plastic packaging. The Fund recently pledged to invest $50 million in women-led and women-founded companies through our Female Founder Initiative—a body of work I’m proud to lead.
Prior to Amazon, I have been a climate tech investor for over a decade. I was also a chemical engineer and semiconductor DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) engineer, as well as a female tech entrepreneur in my previous life. My dream after retiring from the venture capital industry is to become an adjunct professor and spend my time doing research.
The theme for International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity. What does that mean to you?
Women represent half of the population but did not have a meaningful say in any societal affairs until the last century, when they gained the right to vote. We’ve come a long way, but women still face invisible glass ceilings and barriers, including in the venture capital industry.
For every $50 invested in startup companies run by men, only $1 goes to female founders. To me, embracing equity means we not only want to ensure women are at the table, but that women are making leadership decisions. In my job, it means ensuring that female climate tech founders have an equal opportunity to secure the funding they need to pursue their innovations.
What advice would you like to share with women and other people reading this story?
Have conviction, be persistent, show tenacity. As an entrepreneur, you are going to get a lot of "no" responses. As a female entrepreneur, the bar you are facing to get to "yes" is even higher. Don't take "no" at face value. Find ways around it.
Who is the woman or person you look up to most?
My former boss Meghan Sharp is my role model. She is currently the global head at Decarbonization Partners, a BlackRock and Temasek joint venture. I was fortunate to work with her during my early years as a venture capitalist, and we went through the same life stages around the same time, so I got to follow her footsteps both at work and in my personal life.
She showed me how to make an impact in an industry where women are historically a minority. She also showed me it is OK to be vulnerable, it is OK to be emotional, it is OK to be empathetic—and how to turn those traits into a competitive edge. I am forever grateful to the lessons I learned from her, and have the personal calling to pay it forward and help other junior venture capitalists and uprising entrepreneurs to grow. I have mentored or currently mentor more than 100 other women.
How would you like the world to see you?
I'd like to the world to see me as a person who is honest, kind, hardworking, and fun to work with; someone who is passionate about climate tech and caring for the Earth and humankind. As a new Amazon employee, I love connecting to people and truly believe there is something I can learn from everyone. In Confucius' words, "三人行 必有我师.” Or in English, "If three of us are walking together, at least one of the other two is good enough to be my teacher."