Making the leap from ballet to venture capital

Annie Zhou (BPPhEc '19, LLB(Hons) '19)
10 May 2023

Raised in Sydney and Beijing, Annie Zhou moved to Canberra to study a Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy and Economics and a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at the Australian National University (ANU).

She made the most of the international opportunities provided by ANU, including studying human rights law at the University of Copenhagen and competing for Team Australia at the Intercollegiate Negotiations Competition in Japan. Through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Annie represented Australia as a New Colombo Plan Scholar studying at the National Taiwan University and working in Hong Kong. After graduating in 2019, Annie began her career as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs before moving to NAB Ventures as a VC investor.
"ANU gave me access to opportunities all around the world! I never thought that I could go from riding my bike around Canberra to studying human rights law in Copenhagen and working in Hong Kong."
While the move to Canberra seemed daunting, the decision to study at ANU was easy. Annie was raised by her grandparents; an engineer and a teacher who instilled in her a love of learning and curiosity. Annie was encouraged to pursue her interest in ballet, which she studied for 10 years before appearing on the show Dance Academy, as well as her passion for other cultures and countries as a result of having grown up in Beijing, Sydney and Paris. Her broad range of interests is what led her to ANU, as she viewed the interdisciplinary BPPE degree as a way to explore new topics and develop her critical thinking skills. It turned out that she was right, and she ended up studying everything from the fundamental ideas in philosophy to critical legal theory.

I felt embarrassed at the time that I had to ask for help when everyone else seemed to be thriving... but we all have our struggles and we don't have to suffer alone.

Reflecting on her time at ANU, she remembers the time and energy that her mentors invested in her from day one. Having moved to Canberra at 18 on her own, Annie struggled to balance studying with working several part-time jobs to support herself. After receiving some disappointing marks, she decided to reach out to some of her lecturers for guidance and was surprised by how willing they were to help. A quick hello at an after-hours session turned into coffees and even picnics on the law lawn with mentors who made a lifelong impact, including Dr Michelle Worthington, Dr Jill Sheppard, Mr Cameron Roles and Elizabeth Lee MLA.
"I am grateful for the opportunities that ANU and my professors gave me. It taught me the importance of giving back to those who are coming up after you."
Since graduating in 2019, Annie has been developing her finance and investing skills as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs and as an VC investor at NAB Ventures. She is actively involved with the ANU community and is passionate about mentoring younger students. She is currently on the Committee of the ANU Women's Alumni Network, was a mentor with the CBE Virtual Mentor Program and recently spoke on several ANU FMAA panels. Now that she is based in Sydney, she makes sure to visit Canberra often to see her favourite spots: the law lawns, Black Mountain and Bar Rochford!

Annie presently serves on the ANU Women's Alumni Network (WAN) steering committee. Find out more about WAN and how to get involved by clicking here.

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