20 for the Next 20: People to Watch 2013
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Photo: David Croxford
President/Chief Professional Officer, Aloha United Way
Kim Gennaula spent a lot of her 15 years as a TV news reporter covering the bad side of life.
“It’s really great to be engaged on the good side of people helping each other,” says Gennaula, now leading AUW. “It’s deeply humbling and satisfying to know we’re actually helping people‘s quality of life.”
Gennaula took the helm of AUW in June 2011 and has virtually turned the organization around, according to John Dean, president and CEO of Central Pacific Bank. Dean, who served as chair of the 2012 AUW Campaign, says Gennaula effectively brought together key business, union and community leaders and gained their support and collaboration for AUW’s revitalization.
“Kim also served as a change agent for a struggling organization by streamlining its operations, reenergizing its staff and creating a new level of excitement,” says Dean.
Gennaula’s first brush with AUW was more than 20 years ago, when she worked as a communications director for Liberty House.
“I was selected to run the AUW campaign for the company and there was 100-percent participation back then,” she recalls. “There were huge thermometers set up around town to keep track of the goal. I wanted to bring that level of excitement back and that’s what lured me and motivated me to take on the task.”
She conducted more than 50 meetings with Hawaii CEOs, asking what AUW needed to do to encourage their participation.
“I was very nervous in taking on the job,” she recalls. “It was a great opportunity, but a huge responsibility. If AUW somehow went down under my watch, I didn’t want that to be my legacy to the community.”
After spending her first year getting the organization’s internal health in order, lowering overhead and streamlining operations, her focus is now on how AUW can be a win-win for all businesses. Once again, she is going to companies to see how AUW can best partner with them, add value to their participation and look to the future.
And the future is where it’s at for Gennaula, although she has fond memories of her TV career.
“When something really big happens, I miss not being able to be there to share the story,” she says. “My job in news was fantastic. It was a dream job to me, but all consuming, and didn’t fit in with family life. Now I can tuck my kids in at night.”
Sr. VP/CFO, HPM Building Supply
Bobby Fujimoto once told his grandson, Jason, “Be a steward for your customers and your employees. Always start with them first, then success will come naturally.”
Jason Fujimoto says that’s the best advice he’s ever received, which says a lot about this Hilo boy, who earned his business degree at the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Following graduation in 2002, Fujimoto worked as an analyst at J.P. Morgan, then returned to Hawaii with some Wall Street friends to serve as consultants to HPM, his family’s business.
With a one-year contract to focus on operational efficiency and improvement of the now 91-year-old business, it was never his plan to stay.
“My buddies went back after the contract was up, but I found that helping people be successful in their jobs gave me a lot of gratification. I discovered that this was my place. I came full circle,” says Fujimoto.
He is the fifth generation to work in the business started by his great-great grandfather, Kametaro Fujimoto. Although he admits the business was always his family’s focus while growing up, he says he was never pressured to make it his destiny.
Fujimoto has been home for nine years now and, with a wife and two children, he’s here to stay.
“Although he has an impressive Ivy League education and has worked for a big Wall Street investment bank, his career success is largely attributable to his great interpersonal skills and the fact he’s a great communicator,” says Warren Haruki, chairman and CEO of Maui Land & Pineapple, and president and CEO of Grove Farm.
Fujimoto says he feels fortunate to be part of a succession plan that will allow him to take over for his father someday as HPM’s president and CEO.
“As we look to the future, we continue to focus on our customers and enabling them to be successful in their businesses. I also want to bring that success back to our owners/employees.”
HPM is 100-percent employee owned thanks to his grandfather, who started the employee ownership program.
“Even though the company was founded by the family, our employees live and breathe as owners,” says Fujimoto.
Photo: David Croxford
Sr. VP Hawaii, Howard Hughes Corp.
David Striph isn’t comfortable talking about himself. He prefers to listen, and that’s what makes him the perfect person to lead Howard Hughes Corp.’s development of 60 acres in Kakaako.
“The whole team I’m working with spends a lot of time talking to people, listening and learning. We’re humbled and grateful with what we have here and, because it’s such an important piece of land, we’re trying to bring that history back again,” says the former CPA. “We spend a lot of time studying the culture. We know how important that is.”
Born just outside of Detroit, Striph’s career has taken him to Chicago, Southern California and Dallas. A frequent visitor to Hawaii, he landed in the Islands a little more than two years ago and immediately began building relationships, something he strongly advocates.
“The value of relationships goes a long way. It’s true in Hawaii and it’s true everywhere,” says Striph.
In fact, relationships are how he ended up in Hawaii.
“I’d been in real estate for about 25 years and at one point made a loan to (HHC’s CEO) David Weinreb and (HHC president) Grant Herlitz. We became friends and would have lunch or dinner every few months,” explains Striph. “So when they had the opportunity to run the company, they called me up with a job offer.”
Immediately after arriving in Hawaii, Striph got involved with the community through the YMCA of Honolulu and Child & Family Services.
“David immediately became one of our most enthusiastic fundraisers and is one of our most successful philanthropists,” says YMCA CEO Michael Broderick. “I’ve spoken to people who gave money for him and they say it’s because he had inspired them. He’s stepped up for our community in a really short time.”
Striph says Kakaako’s largest private landowner wants to bring the history and legacy of Victoria Ward to life through its development plans.
“We’re creating a real special neighborhood. We’re going to pull buildings away from Ala Moana boulevard,” so they integrate better with Ala Moana Beach Park and the ocean, he explains. “We want to provide large public gathering places, pedestrian-friendly streets and green design for a truly walkable neighborhood.”
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