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HBS Alum Series: Q&A With Ms. Angela Chao, Class of 2001, Section E

Angela Chao – Headshot

Angela Chao is Deputy Chairman of Foremost Group, an international shipping company in New York.  Prior to joining Foremost Group, Angela Chao worked in the Mergers & Acquisitions Department of Smith Barney, now a part of Citigroup.

Angela received her M.B.A. from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree from Harvard College where she graduated magna cum laude in three years.

An active business leader and philanthropist, Angela Chao serves on the Boards of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, HBS Board of Dean’s Advisors, the American Bureau of Shipping Council, the Shanghai Mulan Education Foundation, and Foremost Foundation. She is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, National Committee on US-China Relations, and Honorary Chairperson of the Chiao-Tung University Alumni Association in America.  A patron of the arts and music, Angela also serves on the board of Museum of Modern Art PS1 and The Chairman’s Council of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Her website is:  Angelachao.com and her blog can be found here: http://www.angelachaoblog.com.

What was your experience while at HBS that has impacted the way you work today?

I loved my HBS experience.  HBS gave me the confidence to go back to the family company and fight to effect change where I saw fit, not just accept or follow the status quo, and gave me some of my closest friends in life for whom I am very grateful.

What is the most important piece of advice you can give a new HBS graduate?

Be thankful.  Always remember how fortunate you are – any number of people were qualified for your spot, but you were lucky enough to get it.  Now that you got it, do something meaningful with it.  It’s not an education unless you do something with it.  And always remember to give back – with your time, with your kindness, with your mentorship – there are so many, many ways – and we can do it everyday.

How did your family become mission driven?

My parents, Dr. James S.C. Chao and Mrs. Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, are extraordinarily inspiring people.  They instilled in us a belief that we could do anything we wanted, so long as we worked hard and set our minds to it.  They were incredibly supportive and encouraging of us to develop our interests and talents and were adamant that we be productive members of society.  I don’t know if I would call it “mission driven” but we were raised to believe that being productive members of society would bring us ultimate happiness and satisfaction.  My parents emphasized that it was up to each of us to foster and obtain our own sense of achievement, accomplishment, and satisfaction and always, always – to give back.

Every HBS student would become alumni at some point and they would be vetted for giving. Why did your family choose to give?

My family has always believed in the transformative power of education.  And there were four of us that went to the school, so from a democratic point of view, HBS wins the most votes of any other school in our family!  And as a family, since so many of us have firsthand experience, we believe in the power of the multiplier effect of the HBS education.

We love that four of you went to HBS, are there any secrets or family values that created this path for all of you?

It’s funny, because even though four us went to HBS, each of did something very different with the education.  My other sisters dedicated themselves to government service, philanthropy, education, anthropology, etc.  Just goes to show you the versatility of the HBS education!

What was the decision process to move from banking (Smith Barney) into a career of service?

For me, banking was never a career.  I always knew I wanted to be a part of what my parents worked so hard to build.  If they had been in real estate or hospitality, it would have been the same for me.  My motivation and inspiration is learning from my parents’ example everyday and continuing their legacy.

December 5, 2013
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