Li Jing of China Daily, USA, sat down recently with Angela Chao, Deputy Chair of Foremost Group, in the company’s Manhattan headquarters. Her interview appears in the October 13, 2015 edition of China Daily.
Chao leads the ship management, financings and business strategy for her family’s international shipping business. She shared with Li Jing the story of why she joined Foremost Group, and her life-long love for the world of shipping.
Foremost Group was founded by Angela’s father, Dr. James Chao in 1964. Dr James Si-Cheng Chao, already quite accomplished before leaving his native China, immigrated to America to pursue advanced studies. From its humble beginnings, Foremost Group grew into a highly reputable and respected international shipping company with a modern and energy efficient fleet of modern and young dry bulk carriers.
What originally fascinated Angela Chao most about her father’s business was the critical role that shipping was playing in the world of international trade. By joining her father in his office as a young girl, she was able to see first-hand how the movement of goods from one location to another was more than simply movement of goods—it created international dialogue, cross-cultural respect, economic balance and peaceful relationships among nations in the world. This sparked within Angela’s heart a longing to be a part of this larger global mission.
Her days in the office with her father as a young girl opened her eyes to more than just the mechanics of how to run a large, international business. Dr Chao served as a tremendous role-model for how to behave as a human being in a company, and more broadly speaking, in a society, and how to interact with others across all spectrums, in a respectful and humble way. And, very importantly, both of her parents instilled in all of their daughters the sense that one has a responsibility to give back for all the good that has been received. Angela hopes that she is true to these parental traits to this very day.
Angela Chao’s path to the Foremost Group was not a linear one. Initially, after completing her undergraduate studies in Economics at Harvard College, she entered the world of investment banking. Two years later, she joined Foremost Group for a brief two years before, with the strong encouragement from her parents, she left to pursue her MBA at Harvard Business School. With an MBA in hand, Angela finally fulfilled her long-cherished dream and joined her father at Foremost Group for good.
Angela Chao is the youngest of six children. She was born in the U.S. to Chinese immigrants, Dr. James SC CHao and Mrs. Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, and learned from her parents how to seamlessly blend the most exquisite aspects of both American and Chinese culture, and to arrive at a place of success in her professional and personal life.
Angela has always had a passion for music and the arts. In fact, she considered pursuing these subjects in college, however her parents suggested that she first obtain a degree that would help her gain meaningful employment. She indulges her passion these days through tireless efforts sitting on boards and advisory committees, such as the Metropolitan Opera, NY’s Museum of Modern Art PS1, and the Lincoln Center’s Global China Advisory Council.
Following in the footsteps of her parents, who established the Shanghai Mulan Education Foundation, as well as several other charitable organizations, Angela discussed her personal philanthropic initiatives, such as a new scholarship program that she recently created at her alma mater, Harvard College, to help more students access higher education.