Shirley Young, Former GM Vice President, Dies at 85

Shirley Young,

A Chinese immigrant who worked as a vice president at General Motors and helped the car manufacturer set up a joint venture in China in the late 1990s, died Saturday in a hospital in Manhattan. She was 85 years old and suffered from breast cancer.

The daughter of a Chinese diplomat who was executed in Manila during World War II, came to the United States at the age of 10 and worked in market research before joining GM in 1988.

Mrs Young was the founder and former Chairman of the Committee of 100, which defends Chinese American interests and seeks to improve Sino-American relations. She has also served as a director of companies, including

Bank of America Corp.

и Inc.

and vice-chairman of the Nominating Committee of the New York Stock Exchange. In her professional career, she was often the only woman and the only Asian in the room where decisions were made.

A friend of the Chinese pianist

Long Long

and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, she encouraged artistic exchanges between China and the United States.

In recent years, when relations between Beijing and Washington deteriorated, she called for reconciliation and better understanding. We have to work together, she said to the Xinhua News Agency in 2018. Given the interconnectedness of relations and globalisation, it is ridiculous to think that we cannot work together.

The second of the three girls, Young Xuelan, later known as Shirley, was born on the 25th. May 1935, born in Shanghai. Your father,

Clarence Quangson Young,

was a diplomat. His mother, the former

Julianne Yen,

As the daughter of a businessman, she was born in Tianjin, China, and trained in a school run by Methodist missionaries.

At the end of the 1930s, the family moved to Paris and then to Manila, where his father was consul-general at the Chinese embassy and helped raise money from overseas Chinese families for China’s war against Japanese invaders.

In an interview in 2003 with

Bill Moyers,

Mrs. Young remembers that she was at breakfast when Japanese soldiers came to arrest her father in the early 1940s. I think my father was expecting soldiers, she said. He went into the room, took his suitcase and left.

His family heard that his father had been executed. After his arrest, Shirley, her sisters and mother crammed into a bungalow with other families of imprisoned Chinese diplomats. Electricity and regular water supplies were cut and the Yangs helped raise chickens, ducks and pigs to survive privatization in wartime.

We made our own shoes, we did everything, she told Mr Moyers. I’ve learned that no matter what the circumstances, you can be happy. Because we actually had a very happy childhood.

Given the interconnectedness of the relationship and globalization, it is ridiculous to think that we cannot work together, Yang said about the relationship between the U.S. and China.


Wang Yin/Xinhua/Zuma Press

After the Second World War, the family moved to New York. His mother,

Julianne Young,

…worked for the United Nations and married…

W.K. Wellington Q,

a nationalist Chinese diplomat.

Shirley Young attended the Abbott Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and then studied economics at Wellesley College, where he graduated cum laude in 1955.

She remembers being vague about her ambitions and telling potential employers that her goal was to make the world a better place. After many refusals, Wellesley’s friend suggested a market survey.

Ms. Young learned new jobs with various employers and started working at Grey Advertising in 1959. She became Executive Vice President at Grey’s and began receiving invitations to serve on the boards of large companies, including

Dayton Hudson Corp.

a department store manager. Progressive companies want strong and diverse boards, she told The New York Times in 1983, and women are no longer satisfied with filling in the gaps.

Gray was appointed president of strategic marketing in 1983. One of her customers was GM, who hired her in 1988 as Vice President of Consumer Market Development – a rare case where an outsider joined a company of this calibre. GM then relinquished responsibility for strategic development in China. After her retirement at GM, she worked as a consultant.

She was director at Wellesley and has served on the boards of many cultural institutions, including the New York Philharmonic and the Symphony Society.

Their marriages with

George Hsieh,

computer software consultant, and Norman Crandall, a

Ford Motor Co.

Executive Director, ended in divorce. She is survived by three sons and seven grandchildren.

Email James R. Hagerty at [email protected].

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