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Nurturing Tomorrow’s Leaders

In-house mentoring is gone, so these programs are building Hawaii’s next-generation elite

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Photo: David Croxford
This year’s cohort of Pacific Century Fellows includes, from left,
Jon Nouchi, James Duca, Alan Schlissel, Ian Fitz-Patrick and
Kawika Kane.

Deep beneath the Koolau Mountains, 30 of Hawaii’s future leaders shuffle in the gloom of the Unfinished Tunnel, a test bore from the construction of H-3’s Harano Tunnels. The tunnel is crude and seldom visited, and the procession of young government officials, business executives, nonprofit directors and military officers has the air of an expedition. Gravel crunches underfoot. Slender stalactites poke through the rough ceiling.

It’s Transportation Day for the Pacific Century Fellows. Founded in 1995 by Mufi Hannemann, PCF is the largest and best known of an increasingly important collection of local leadership training programs. These programs represent a remarkable shift in the way Hawaii produces its leaders. Much as the MBA has largely replaced in-house training in today’s corporations, these leadership-training programs seem to be gradually supplanting the old models of mentoring and personal example. Their alumni include hundreds of Hawaii’s leaders, ranging from CEOs of major corporations, to senior politicians and government officials, to the executive directors of critical nonprofits. But each program has its own approach to creating leaders.

For this year’s fellows, Transportation Day offers a unique perspective on the challenges that face Hawaii’s transportation systems. And the Unfinished Tunnel is just one part of a tour of the engineering marvels of H-3, including the control room from which state technicians monitor Oahu’s entire freeway system. But Transportation Day is much more. Fellows also enjoy a breakfast roundtable with a General Motors executive, the executive director of the Hawaii Auto Dealers Association, and a representative from an electric car company. Over lunch, the CEO of Hawaiian Airlines describes the future of air transportation in the Islands. And in the afternoon, they have a long discussion about Honolulu’s rail system with Hannemann and key transportation aides. All these conversations are remarkable for their candor.

The PCF program is composed of days like this - Education Day, Public Safety Day and Military Day – leaving the fellows with a comprehensive understanding of the issues facing Hawaii.









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Hawaii Business,December