Anne Chow, AT&T’s First Woman Of Color CEO In 144 Years, Adds Another Groundbreaking Role

Moore retired early from his 20-year career in IT to manage the household. He's also president of their Southlake community's homeowners association.

Chow calls the notion of work/life balance bogus. Rather, it is an optimization equation of shifting priorities that only you can decide for yourself.

"This situation today makes it even more bogus because when you're working remotely from home, there is no separation between church and state. You look up and 10 hours have passed."

One of her favorite current movies is Crazy Rich Asians, released in 2018. She says she totally identifies with Rachel, the Chinese American economics professor at New York University and female protagonist. "Chinese American. Living between two worlds and bridging between them. Unswayed with material wealth. And Rachel is a lover of game theory, which is similar to how the corporate world works."

Chow is a motivational junkie and disciple of Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. So she was delighted when Bob Whitman, CEO of FranklinCovey Co., asked her to join its board four years ago.

"Anne was probably a recruit above our rights," Whitman says from his home in Park Cities, Utah. "She's got this great spirit, is very collegial and everybody loves working with her. But she also has this ability to see how big or important an idea could be. Rather than being satisfied with just getting something done, she wants to think about what the full potential might look like."

She is co-author of The Leader's Guide to Unconscious Bias, which will be released by FranklinCovey in October. The book is already in pre-order demand.

'Tiger leader' Employees have voted Chow's internal blog the best in all of AT&T-land for the past nine years. She writes about inspirational, personal and sometimes touchy topics, including one post about being a tiger mom.

In early 2011, Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother stirred up heated debate when the Yale law professor touted the benefits of a traditional Chinese parenting style that demands high achievement over what she calls the permissive Western way where parents worry about a kid's self-esteem.

Shortly after the book came out, Chow wrote a blog explaining that she has attributes of both a tiger mom and a tiger leader, hopefully not to the negative extremes.

She sees herself as someone who encourages excellence, driving to deliver, constantly raising the bar and never giving up. She says those traits are extensions of her mother, who was and still is "the epitome of a tiger mom."

Chow's motherly advice to her daughters: " 'Try new things. Meet new people. Keep an open mind. You never know if you're going to be good at something unless you try it.' That started when they were little, tiny babies with food and then with experience and opportunities.

"The tiger mom in me pushed them into martial arts. They're both second-degree black belts in taekwondo. It's awesome."

Chow is a collector of wisdom quotes. "My favorite is Ghandi's: 'Be the change you want to see in the world.' So I tell them, 'Be the change. If you don't like something, try to change it.'

"It's part of my whole trailblazer, maverick mentality. I don't want them to be victims of circumstance.

"Quite honestly, I want everybody to be change agents." she says. That's another reason why the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas campaign opportunity is a no-brainer for me. It's all about being a catalyst for change. That is the only way that progress is made."

Racial divide Chow has felt the current sting of prejudice. In the early days of COVID-19, Chow was heckled by strangers for being Asian. "People had that racial bias that COVID was a Chinese thing."

She believes that everything happens for a reason, even COVID-19 and the racial injustice that has led to civil unrest.

"COVID, even in its darkest hours, has had the whole world united around the common enemy called the coronavirus," she says. "COVID also showed us how important connections actually are. The power of those connections is what makes the world work and make us human."

As for the Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the world: "There are deep-rooted systemic racial issues across society and many systems. There's no question that for our community, including the North Texas community, to thrive, to prosper, to grow, we must address these racial issues head-on with grace and professionalism and respect.

"I believe that the year 2020 is the year that had to happen, because we as a business community, we as humanity, we as a country needed it to happen."

Boxing off steam Chow considers fitness boxing, which she discovered four years ago, a necessity of life.

"When I moved to Dallas, there were all these life confluences: new job, big move. I'd spent my whole career on the East Coast. I was turning 50 and in the worst physical, mental and emotional condition of my entire life," Chow recalls.

"I had girlfriends who were rolling into their 50s looking fantastic. And I'm like, 'Dang, I had that dream and then I moved to Texas.' What I used to say for my first two years in Texas until I got myself back: 'Everything's bigger in Texas, including me.' It was totally true."

She loves coupons and rarely buys anything that's not on sale.

"I was Grouponing like crazy trying to find an exercise to get myself back on track. I stumbled upon fitness boxing, and I am literally obsessed with it." She doesn't have many regrets but one is that she didn't push herself to learn to play golf.

She hosts clients at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro Am and at the Masters golf tournament, but she can't play with them because her game is dreadful. "Golf is such a big part of the Texas business community," she says. "I have an appreciation for it, but I know my limitations. I would never put myself out there to actually play it."

Chow has several basic problems with the sport: It's expensive, it's time-consuming and practice does not make perfect.

"There are some pretty terrible golfers out there who spend a lot of time and a lot of money on it." she says. "For me, that lack of certainty on outcomes is unacceptable. I do not want to spend that much time or that much money and all that practice to probably still be God-awful at it."

Always a mom A year ago, Chow's parents moved from New Jersey to a retirement community in North Dallas.

Her mom still worries about her daughter's job security. "I'm not even kidding you. I tell her, 'Mom, don't worry. If I don't have a job anymore, and it's time for me to leave AT&T, I'll be fine.' Until about five years ago, every time I'd see them, she'd slip me 20 bucks."

Last Sunday, she visited her parents physically distanced outside. Her mom, as usual, had prepared meals for her to take home.

"Apparently at age 54, I'm still incapable of cooking and shopping for myself," Chow says with a laugh. "Once a mom, always a mom." ___ Anne Chow Title: CEO of AT&T Business

Age: 54

Grew up: New Jersey

Resides: Southlake

Education: A bachelor of science in electrical engineering in 1988, master's in electrical engineering in 1989, and an MBA in marketing and operations management in 1990, all from Cornell University.

Personal: Married to Bob Moore for 25 years. They have two daughters, 21 and 18.

AT&T Business Headquarters: Dallas 2019 operating revenue: $37 billion

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