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Success Secrets of 9 Top Leaders

(page 10 of 10)

Chatt Wright

In his early days at Hawaii Pacific University, Chatt Wright spent his weekends mowing his lawn. “I worked so hard and was so dedicated to work that my recreation was gardening, because I couldn’t afford to do anything else,” he says.
When he became the founding dean of the college of business administration at HPU (then Hawaii Pacific College), the entire campus spanned one floor of a downtown office building. It had 53 students and a $200,000 annual budget. When he was named president and CEO in 1976, Wright spearheaded the mission to build a private university around the principle of “Educating for Global Citizenship.” Today, the second-largest university in the state boasts 8,500 students from 110 countries, three campuses and a $1 million operating budget.

The idea of a global university — preparing students for international business and society — seems like a no-brainer. But Wright says, “I used to get comments like, ‘Why would you bring those people over here, i.e., from Third World countries? They’ll only be going on the American welfare system and they’ll be a drain upon us. But the ones we brought here were pretty well-off, and once the concept was accepted here, then people readily adapted to it.”

Without changing people’s perspective, raising money for the university would’ve been impossible. “In the earlier days, I was turned down more often than I was successful,” he says. “You just have to learn to live with that and just go on.”

He encourages people to take leadership positions and to have vision, persistence and courage.

“There’s a resistance to a lot of things, and if you have a good concept and you’re leading something that is worthy of leading, just stick with it even through the difficult times.”

Even if it includes yard work.

– JU

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Dec 30, 2008 09:58 am
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