Angela Chao, the chief executive and chair of New York-based bulker owner Foremost Group, has passed away after a tragic car accident.
Born in 1974 into a family with deep roots in the shipping industry, Chao was the youngest of the six daughters of James Chao, who founded Foremost Group with her mother, the late Ruth Mulan Chu Chao, in 1964.
She joined Foremost in 1996 from the mergers and acquisitions department of Smith Barney, now a part of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, and took over the helm at the company in 2018.
“She expressed an interest in the shipping industry at an early age and was a wonderful and inquisitive companion accompanying me to the office on ‘take your daughter to work’ days,” her father James said in a statement on behalf of the Chao family.
Chao was a board member of the American Bureau of Shipping Council and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy’s International Maritime Business Department advisory board, among her various other appointments.
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She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Chao obtained her master’s in business administration from Harvard Business School, where she used her shipping knowledge to write a case study on “Ocean Carriers” that, to this day, is part of the required curriculum for first-year students.
Foremost said Chao was a passionate advocate for environmentally sustainable practices, but that most importantly, she believed that the foundational element of success is the belief that shipping is not an asset finance business, but that it’s about people.
“She placed special emphasis on paying attention to the care and well-being of our crews and to everyone onboard and onshore who played a role in performing our services. As a result, her leadership in the shipping industry was widely recognised.”
“Angela Chao was a formidable executive and shipping industry leader, as well as a proud and loving daughter, sister, aunt, wife and mother. She will be greatly missed and leaves a legacy of pioneering leadership – especially for women in shipping, philanthropy and the arts,” the company said in a statement.
“Angela’s name in Chinese sounds like the characters for peace and prosperity. She certainly gave more than her share of both to this world. Her absence leaves a void not only in our hearts but in the Asian-American community,” her father added.