At age 13, she opened a grocery store in Buenos Aires, Argentina. At 15, she was jeered at by the principal of her school because of her poor English. Now 39, she speaks seven languages and has been recognized by a US magazine as an outstanding individual who contributed to the economic development of New York state.
Meet Chuang Huey-min (莊慧敏), one of the 40 people on the annual Crain’s New York Business list of outstanding individuals under 40.
Chuang was listed alongside Caswell Holloway IV, deputy mayor for operations of New York City; Facebook’s head engineer Serkan Piantino; and CBS News president, David Rhodes.
In a recent interview, Chuang said she would like to present the honor to McKay Memorial Hospital Hospice Center in Tamsui (淡水), New Taipei City (新北市), where her mother received care before her death in March last year.
Chuang was born and lived in Taiwan until the age of 10, when she and her family moved to Buenos Aires. Chuang’s parents returned to Taiwan within a year after they failed to find work in Argentina, but left their four children there.
Life in Buenos Aires forced Chuang to develop an independent character. She strived to learn Spanish and at the age of 13 was running a grocery store. That experience contributed to her rise to senior director of business and economic development at New York’s Empire State Development Corp, the position she now holds.
When she moved to the US at the age of 15 to go to school, her poor English skills were ridiculed by her school’s principal. However, within six months she was getting straight A’s. She later graduated from Brown University with BA degrees in Hispanic studies, economics and international relations.
In 1996, she won the International Finance Review Deal of the Year award with a US$198 million economic development financing project for Bogota, Colombia. She was 23 years old.
Her three-year stint at JPMorgan as an investment banker with a six-digit annual salary, and her success in the area of business planning prompted her to explore the meaning of life.
Chuang went on to pursue a postgraduate degree in business administration and management in Spain and returned to New York to work for a non-profit organization in Chinatown that helped disadvantaged women and minorities.
Because of her job at the organization, she came in contact with the New York state government, which later convinced her to participate in the state’s economic development.
In 2010, the White House selected Chuang as one of three economic development experts to assess the impact of the BP oil spill on Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana.
She also helped fund the Bronx Global Learning Institute for Girls and is starting a group to help people deal with death.
Chuang said she hoped to inspire young people with her story and would like to encourage people to pursue their dreams, and not to set boundaries for themselves.
Hard work is the only path to success, she said.