After earning degrees at Harvard, California Berkeley and Cornell, and working at insurance firm MBIA in New York, Hilo-born Ally Park never thought she would take over the family business. However, “My parents needed a succession plan and they had not done well with outside mangers,” she says. She moved back to Hawaii in 2000 and became president of Clinical Labs in 2007.
HB: What advice do you have for local people transitioning back home from the Mainland?
I came directly out of New York, a very aggressive business environment. People are very much in your face and their motivations are clear. … I had a hard time adjusting to Hawaii’s much smaller and insular business community. You can’t make enemies here.
HB: What did you learn working on the big, $1.5 billion bankruptcy of AHERF (Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation) while at MBIA?
The ability to pick up a chapter or a case, read it and be able to talk about it the next day with intelligence, really made an impact in my life at MBIA, because you need to be able to understand the nuances of deals and relationships. … My greatest advice to up and comers: Really take the time and energy to know what you’re working on. You want to provide knowledge and experience for your manager and, ultimately, that leads them to respect and rely on you.
HB: Any other advice for local-born executives?
If you haven’t left Hawaii, the tendency is to not stand out from the crowd. But I think that’s the opposite of what you need to do. Feel comfortable using your skill to shine, because that’s what employers look for, and too often people feel it’s rude to do that.