Amy Knapp '97

Chief Operating Officer and  Chief Financial Officer
Corsair Capital

“The school painted a very clear picture of the path an accounting degree could open up for me. By providing a scholarship to a qualifying freshman from my hometown, I hope to make that path clearer a little sooner for high-school students who may be looking for concrete ideas and opportunities for their educational and professional development.”

Early in her career, one of Amy Knapp’s audit clients told her they were looking for a chief financial officer. Knapp offered to spread the word. But the client, Corsair Capital, said they actually wanted her. At the age of 25, Knapp became a CFO.

Accepting the position with Corsair, then a small team within J.P. Morgan, was not an easy decision for Knapp. After dabbling in language classes, she settled on a degree in accounting for its clear professional path and the opportunity for a linear career with a big six firm. Knapp said, “With a big firm, you get into the current and off you go. For many reasons, this decision meant stepping out of the current.”

It was a long way from her hometown of Perry, New York, population 6,000, in Western New York. Knapp had chosen the University of Albany because it was a big school in a city and not too close to home, pushing herself out of her comfort zone, a theme that has repeated itself throughout her career. Her very first visit to New York City was for an interview for an internship with Coopers & Lybrand. She made the trip alone, navigated the city and got the job. After Coopers, she moved to J.P. Morgan where her work in private equity brought her the opportunity to “step out of the current” once again and make her own way.

When Corsair spun off from J.P. Morgan in 2006, their staff numbered nine, and they managed private equity assets of

$1 billion. Today Corsair employs nearly 50 people and manages assets of more than $5.5 billion, with offices in New York and London. Knapp not only continued her work as CFO but also became the chief operating officer.

Along the way, Knapp earned an MBA from the New York University Stern School of Business. She lives in Manhattan with her partner, Kevin, and 7-year-old daughter, Naomi.

Knapp recently joined the School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board and created a scholarship for freshmen from Wyoming County. She said, “My roots are strong and important to me. It was a great opportunity for me to give back to the area I grew up in and to the University at Albany at the same time. The school painted a very clear picture of the path an accounting degree could open up for me. By providing a scholarship to a qualifying freshman from my hometown, I hope to make that path clearer a little sooner for high-school students who may be looking for concrete ideas and opportunities for their educational and professional development.”

Her advice to the award recipient and other students? 

Don’t underestimate your potential and be prepared to work hard. She said, “UAlbany provides a ton of tools, but assume that you will have to work for your success.” Knapp also advises students to take risks, as she did, when opportunities present themselves.