seal2002 Honorary Degree

Anna Pao Sohmen

Doctor Of Letters

Anna Pao Sohmen has received distinction as a business and political leader and a patron of the arts, enriching the cultural life of the residents of Hong Kong, China.

Anna Pao Sohmen

Mrs. Sohmen is currently involved with several companies and many community projects throughout China.

Born in Chongqing, China, and raised in Hong Kong, she is the first child of the late Sir Yue-Kong Pao, the founder of the World-Wide Shipping Company, which is an international business in chartering oil tankers. He became one of the wealthiest men in the world.

Mrs. Sohmen attended Purdue University, receiving her bachelor’s degree in liberal arts in 1966, and she pursued graduate studies at the University of Chicago, McGill University in Montreal and London University. She holds tertiary degrees in fine arts, social work and psychology.

After working in social services in Canada, Mrs. Sohmen returned to Hong Kong with her Austrian husband in 1970 and became an assistant lecturer in the department of social services and psychology at the University of Hong Kong. From 1974 to 1981, she accompanied her husband on corporate assignments in Bermuda and London for the family business, which also includes World-Wide Marine and Fire Insurance Company, an insurer of ships. Her husband took over the business after her father retired.

In 1994, Mrs. Sohmen established another business in southern China, manufacturing uPVC window frames and doors under the names of Starform and Titane Windows. The company has grown and now has offices in Hong Kong, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing, distributing profiles as well as finished windows and doors throughout China, Hong Kong and Korea. She also is a member of the board of directors of several other companies in Hong Kong, Bermuda and mainland China.

Mrs. Sohmen’s involvement with the community includes being chairwomen of the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, the Sino-British Friendship Scholarship Scheme, the Hua Xia Foundation and the Environment Protection Committee. She also was honorary president of the Chinese Manufacturers Association in Hong Kong and a trustee of the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in London.

Mrs. Sohmen is a founding member of the Hong Kong Chinese International School, the Hong Kong Liver Foundation and the "Helping Hand" charity for elderly people. She also is or has been a member of Hong Kong’s Planning Board, the Cultural and Heritage Commission and the Business Coalition on the Environment.