The Hawaii Business Podcast

The Hawaii Business Podcast

Welcome to Season 2 of The Hawaii Business Podcast! Listen to engaging and inspirational conversations with Hawai‘i’s influential business, community and cultural leaders. Host Unyong Nakata of Nakata Advisory engages each guest in a warm and lively conversation about their career path, business advice, and plans for the future. Hear from the people who are shaping Hawaiʻi today. This podcast is presented by Servco Pacific. Hawaii Business Magazine covers the big issues impacting our island home and is a respected multichannel resource for local leaders and managers in businesses, nonprofits and government – and for you.

Episodes

December 6, 2023 50 mins
In the latest Hawaii Business Podcast episode, Ken Sakurai, CEO of Coastal Construction, discuses his experiences in the construction industry, the impact his family had on the success of the 50-year-old company, and how its collaboration with Castle & Cooke on a Mililani housing project paved the way for light-gauge steel framing in Hawaiʻi. Sakurai also talks about his company’s dedication to its workforce, with employees boasti...
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For Rick Ching, the senior advisor and global mobility board director of Servco Pacific, fostering servant leadership and advocating for inclusivity was all part of the journey. He shares how Servco Pacific drew from Google’s principles of respect, service, team work and innovation to create and adopt a servant leadership framework. That work, plus Disney Institute training, has resulted in a workplace culture that goes beyond the...
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November 16, 2023 49 mins
Peter Ho, the Chairman, President and CEO of Bank of Hawaiʻi, provides valuable insights into his family legacy, career path, and the bank's commitment to its employees and the community. Ho grew up in a family of successful business leaders – his grandfather and father were self-made multi-millionaires – and he credits them for instilling in him a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility. Ho values surrounding himself with ...
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November 2, 2023 55 mins
Servco Pacific newly appointed CEO Peter Dames' consistent, ego-free approach has been crucial to his success. In this episode, we explore his journey, the influence of music teachers, and the importance of empathy and compassion in business. Originally hailing from Bayonne, New Jersey, Dames shared how economic changes led his family to move to Los Angeles when he was just ten months old. He fondly reminisced about embarking on c...
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Chad Buck, founder and CEO of Hawaiʻi Foodservice Alliance shares insights on leadership, entrepreneurship, and personal growth, highlighting his unique approach to business and leadership that has made a lasting impact on the Hawaiian islands. In this episode of The Hawaii Business Podcast, we delve into the journey of Chad Buck, owner and CEO of Hawaiʻi Foodservice Alliance. Buck’s journey, from childhood struggles to building a...
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Kevin Chang, the Executive Director of Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo, discusses the organization's mission to empower rural Hawaiian communities and promote community-based natural resource management. With origins dating back to 2003 and Chang joining in 2011, Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo has established itself as a driving force for positive environmental change across the Islands. Chang emphasized the cultural significance of fishponds and their...
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Kaimana Brummel has long been a bridge builder, but in the aftermath of the Maui wildfires, that role took on a new life as she helped connect organizations and displaced residents with life-sustaining resources. Brummel has also been working with the People’s Fund of Maui, a fund started by Oprah Winfrey and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson that provides direct support to impacted Lahaina and Kula residents. Winfrey and Johnson togethe...
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Mary Fastenau, senior partner at Anthology Marketing Group, fondly recalls the Internet’s early digital marketing potential and the growth of what is now the state’s largest integrated marketing and communications agency. “It’s the beauty of what’s going on in digital, even today, is that … you can test, you can look and you can make sure that your hypothesis, even if they’re very well researched, that they are actually relating t...
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The Shaka Tea co-founder Bella Hughes shares her career journey and how the lessons she’s learned have helped shaped her into the leader she is today. Bella Hughes is an angel investor who invests in female entrepreneurs to help address the sexism that women commonly face when looking for financial backers. Women, she says, only receive about 1.9% of all invested capital. “I think when you empower women and minorities, they tend ...
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Jack Wong, CEO of Kamehameha Schools, shares his background, how he manages such a big responsibility and the trust’s priorities. Wong served as a senior counsel for Kamehameha Schools in 1997. He became CEO in 2014 when former CEO Dee Jay Mailer stepped down. The charitable trust serves over 7,000 students at its K-12 campuses and preschools, manages 363,000 acres of land, and employs about 3,000 people. As a leader, he says mos...
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Ray Vara, the president and CEO of Hawai‘i Pacific Health shares the health care system’s commitment to create a healthier Hawai‘i. And like his organization, he’s in it for the long haul. Health care in the United States is broken and the way to fix it is to look upstream at the issues that underpin poverty, says Ray Vara, president and CEO of Hawai‘i Pacific Health. That means addressing things like early childhood development,...
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In this episode Bob Harrison reflects on his 27-year career with First Hawaiian Bank. He says his career is fulfilling thanks to his employees and colleagues, about 20 to 25 of whom celebrate their 40th, 45th or 50th work anniversaries each year. “You just have this cadre of people who’ve been with the bank a long time,” he says. “They love the customers, they love each other. All the work’s got to get done. And you just never fo...
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During his tenure as UH’s athletic director, David Matlin hired a record 16 head coaches, helped student athlete graduation rates and grade point averages hit all-time highs, and oversaw $103 million in facility upgrades. “It's always about getting 1% better,” he says. “That's kind of my mantra.” Matlin credits much of the department’s achievements during his eight-year tenure to the hard work of his colleagues and student athlet...
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For Micah Kāne, Hawaii Community Foundation's president and CEO, it's all about being relevant, humble and helping the next generation of leaders. Sharpening fishing spear prongs, organizing nets and cleaning the family boat as a child taught Micah Kāne an important value that he strives to embody as a leader: being relevant. Kāne spent almost every weekend on that fishing boat – the only kid among six grown men. He saw how they ...
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President of Atlas Insurance Agency Chason Ishii has a local leadership style that empowers employees to deliver results and help the community. Ishii began his career at Servco under second-generation leader George Fukunaga, who showed him the importance of humility and sincerity in business. Ishii spent 16 years there before becoming the president of a real estate firm, a remediation company, a holding company and now an insuran...
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May 4, 2023 53 mins
The co-owner and executive chef, Robynne Maii of Fête was the first female chef from Hawai‘i to win the prestigious James Beard Award for best chef. Robynne Maii’s love for cooking sprouted while watching her parents cook meals and host gatherings at their ‘Āina Haina home. She saw how they demonstrated love and care through the presentation and delivery of food. She and her husband, Chuck Bussler, opened Fête in Honolulu’s China...
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John De Fries, president and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, discusses the Islands’ potential as a model for regenerative living and the results the agency is already seeing from its destination management plans. Born and raised in Waikīkī, John De Fries has spent 40 years in various parts of Hawai‘i’s hospitality industry. His charge now is leading the state’s tourism agency amid economic recovery and cries of overtourism. ...
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April 6, 2023 54 mins
Bettina Mehnert speaks to designing with a purpose and planning for a sustainable future in episode 3 of The Hawaii Business Podcast. Raised in the tiny town of Grevenbroich, Germany, Bettina Mehnert originally didn’t want to become an architect. She had an industrious personality and followed in her mother’s footsteps and became a carpenter. But that eventually drew her to architecture, and she became the third generation in her...
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March 23, 2023 40 mins
Fairness and justice guide Emily Reber Porter’s work in the community. The chief operating officer of MacNaughton joined the real estate and investment company in 2015 after working as a litigator in Hawai‘i and Washington, D.C., and as an executive at a disruptive tech company in San Francisco. Her passion for issues that affect women and children led her to approach Child & Family Service six years ago to ask about serving on ...
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March 9, 2023 57 mins
Peter Ingram happily describes himself as an “airline guy,” a title he’s held for the last 30 years. The president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines discusses the company’s plans to fly Amazon packages, install high-speed Wi-Fi on its planes, and implement a new passenger service system. Born and raised in Toronto, Ingram originally worked in financial services. He pivoted to the airline industry after being hooked by American Airlin...
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