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Connie & Russell Lau

Executive Mergers

For most couples, it takes two to make a marriage work. For executives Constance and Russell Lau, it actually takes four.

Between her duties as president and chief executive officer of American Savings Bank and his position as vice chairman and CEO of Finance Factors Ltd., there are two people the pair just can’t live without — their secretaries.

Connie and Russell review blueprints for the home-remodeling project they hope to complete before their three children leave the nest.

“Our secretaries, Sue (Kohler) and Rena (Hwang), probably talk to each other more than we do,” Connie confesses. “They set up our social schedules, as well, so they have to have great coordination.”

It’s no easy feat. Russell chairs the St. Andrew’s Priory Board of Trustees. Connie spends late hours with the Kamehameha Schools board. And most of their Wednesdays are booked solid, on account of “Burrito Night.” That’s the weekly ritual the couple started with their three children two years ago.

“Every Wednesday, you’ll find us at the Beretania Taco Bell/Pizza Hut,” Russell explains. “All the workers there know us. And I have a whole bunch of 2-for-1 burrito coupons in my wallet that I cut out from the phone book.”

The couple’s hectic schedules extend into their weekend, as well. But it’s not their powerhouse employers demanding the overtime. It’s their other bosses: 11-year-old Eric, 14-year-old Greg and 16-year-old Jennifer. In fact, the family’s most recent Saturday was spent shuttling them to a riflery match, an SAT-prep class, the dentist and two soccer games.

Although those obligations leave the couple little time to discuss work, they nevertheless acknowledge their professional influence on each other over the years. Says Connie: “I grew up as a perfectionist, and I had to have the entire game plan established before I did anything. After marrying Russell, who has that go-get-’em attitude, I broke that habit. Now, I just move, which is much better for business because business doesn’t wait for anybody.”

Russell says Connie’s calm nature has somewhat toned down his business approach. “After working on the Mainland, I was a little more energetic than what may be expected here,” he says. “Connie provides a nice balance.”

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that when the two MBAs wed 25 years ago, they created a five-year plan. And, in a business-like fashion, they even updated their goals annually … until their first child was born.

“In that last plan, we said we’d learn how to golf,” Connie says. “But that year, we had Jennifer, and all the planning went out the door. So golfing will be on that list for a few more years.”

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Hawaii Business,December