Angela Chow dies in car crash as Foremost Group mourns ‘charismatic and visionary’ leader.
Angela Chao, who led the family shipping company founded by her father and was a leading voice in the American shipping industry, has died in a car accident. She was 50 years old.
Foremost Group, a New York-based owner of bulk carriers, announced the death of its CEO and chairman of the board on Monday.
She has led the company for six years, after taking over leadership from founder James Chow in 2018.
“Angela Chow was a wonderful CEO and pioneer in the shipping industry, as well as a proud and loving daughter, sister, aunt, wife and mother,” the company said.
James, a Chinese-born former sea captain who founded what was then Foremost Maritime in New York in 1964, announced his daughter’s death “with a heavy heart and profound sadness” in a separate family statement.
“Losing her at such a young age is something we could never have imagined, and our entire family is devastated with grief.”
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Angela, one of his six daughters, was interested in shipping at an early age, James said, remembering her as a “wonderful and inquisitive companion” during the “take your daughter to work” days at the company.
“From an early age, she demonstrated a delightful maturity and fierce intellectual curiosity that endeared her to everyone and helped her excel at everything she did,” James said.
“As a daughter, sister, mother, aunt, wife and friend, she was brilliant, thoughtful, kind and unfailingly loyal.”
He also described her as exceptionally lively, intelligent and compassionate, with a “wonderful” sense of humour.
You made us laugh and smile. She strongly believed that the true treasures in life were family, friends and helping others.
Angela graduated summa cum laude from Harvard College with a bachelor’s degree in economics. She earned an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she used her interest and knowledge of shipping to write a case study about the industry that first-year students still read, her father said.
Angela started working at Foremost in 1996. According to her LinkedIn profile, she became Vice President of Foremost in 2009, with James serving as CEO.
Taking over the top job nine years later, she told TradeWinds that her parents encouraged her and her sisters to become leaders and not be deterred by the “abusive comments” they faced because Chaos only had daughters to take over the company.
“My mother always said: ‘Don’t get angry. Just prove them wrong. Just do what you’re supposed to do and be part of the solution,'” Angela recalled in a 2018 interview.
She noted that all of her sisters followed this advice in their own fields, including Elaine Chao, who twice served in the US president’s cabinet, once as Secretary of Labor and once as Secretary of Transportation.
This shipping was a male-dominated field and was not a deterrent.
“Unfortunately, most good things are male-dominated,” she said at the time. “That is why we have to work hard to reach it, as well as pave the way for future generations after us.”
Primarily, she said, she was a passionate advocate for environmentally sustainable practices.
“That’s why Foremost Group’s fleet includes some of the largest, most modern and environmentally friendly ships in the world,” the company said.
“But most importantly, Angela believes that a key ingredient to success is the belief that shipping is not an asset finance business, but is about people.”
Angela has also been active outside the company, serving on the Dean’s Board of Advisors at Harvard Business School and establishing the Ruth Mulan Zhu Zhao and James C. Cheng Family Fellowship at Harvard College, named after her parents.
She was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Bureau of Shipping Council and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s International Maritime Business Advisory Board.
Angela has also served on the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and as a member of the Advisory Board of the city’s Metropolitan Opera.
In addition, she served as a member of the International Advisory Board of the Hospital for Special Surgery.
American-born Angela is also connected to her Asian roots, James said. She has served as President Emeritus of the Chiao Tung University Alumni Association of America, co-chair of the Advisory Board of the Asian American Foundation and a member of the Young Leaders Forum of the National Committee on US-China Relations.
“The name Angela in Chinese sounds like the characters for peace and prosperity. She has definitely given more than her share to this world,” James said.
He added: “Her absence leaves a void not only in our hearts, but in the Asian American community.”