Therese Dickerson


— By Julie Arigo

Our January luncheon speaker, Therese Dickerson, Sr. Vice President, Bank of Hawaii Organizational Development, addressed our membership on the subject of “Building an Agile Organization-Agility and Organizational Health”.  Therese is the first in our state to earn the Certified Professional in Learning and Performance (CPLP) credential from the American Society for Training & Development Certification Institute.  Nationwide, only 478 individuals hold the CPLP certification.  That said, it is no wonder our membership gained so much valuable information on a subject matter that all industries should find relevant.

Therese spoke on the subject of how disrupters can put us out of business and sometimes even being in Hawaii can put us out of business unless we acknowledge the need for agility.  This means understanding how quickly our environment is evolving, knowing how to attract and retain employees due to the war for talent, and keeping up with the rapid changes in competition, demand, technology and regulations.  

She shared the importance of the requirement to focus on organizational health, which means outperforming the competition, engaging employees on a shared vision, and empowering a team by constantly communicating with them.  Besides the bottom line, it is equally as important to think about the people in your organization.  Ensuring the team understands why they are there, what the company is trying to accomplish, and knowing how to execute are all critical components associated with a healthy organization.

BAU vs VUCA.  Working on the “Business as Usual” (BAU) model – a formal structure based on policies and procedures that does not allow for flexibility and innovation – can put a company out of business.  The “new” norm is “VUCA” – knowing the organization’s Vision, Understanding what needs to be done, having Clarity on direction, and the Agility to respond and adapt quickly to the unexpected.

The “New” Agile Paradigm is a shift from organizations running like “machines” – a top down hierarchy that creates silos, linear planning & control that doesn’t allow for deviation vs organizations running like “organisms” - organization empowered to act, procedures allow flexibility and quick mobilization on decisions.

To sum it up, there are 5 trademarks to agile organizations:

  1. “North Star” embodied across the organization – a shared purpose and vision, able to sense and seize opportunities

  2. “Next Generation” enabling technology – evolving technology, architecture, systems & tools

  3. Network of empowered teams

  4. Dynamic people that ignite and model passion

  5. Rapid decisions and learning styles

True agility comes only when all five trademarks are in place and working together.

Chief Susan Ballard

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As the year is quickly coming to an end, 2018 was resoundingly the Year of the Woman! We were honored to hear from one of our most admired women leaders, Captain Susan Ballard, the Honolulu Police Department's eleventh Chief of Police, and the first woman to serve in that position. Her long road to the top leadership position in the HPD presented many challenges in a traditionally male-dominated career, but Capt. Ballard's steadfast mindset of never giving up, keeping her eye on her goals, and meeting new obstacles head on became guiding principles as she shattered this glass ceiling.

November 1 marked Capt. Ballard's one year anniversary as Chief, but it could have also easily have been her first year of retirement. She had just put in her papers in 2017, to retire after a 32-year career, when the Police Chief scandal that rocked HPD opened up an opportunity for new leadership. Encouraged by her fellow officers to apply for the job, Capt. Ballard went for it and made Hawaii history.

Destined to be a leader
Growing up poor with divorced parents in North Carolina, she made up her mind very early on to always be independent and learned to take care of herself. After earning bachelors and master's degrees in health and physical education, she landed in California working in physical education and sports medicine fields. Desiring a change, she bought a one-way ticket to Hawaii and never looked back. At the urging of police officers that worked out with her at the Central YMCA she took the police application test and joined the force as just one of three women from her recruit class.

Easily bored and always up for learning new things, Capt. Ballard took on assignments working in many of the HPD Departments, including patrol, information and IT. After 28 years on the force and because of her willingness to speak up for change, she found herself among a group of outcasts  and ended up in the Central Receiving Desk which was considered a place for the "excommunicated." Instead of withering, she took it upon herself to turn the department into one of the best places to work.

Dream or nightmare
One of the first things Capt. Ballard faced in her new role as Chief was to bring together a fractured and demoralized work force. She set the tone right away of forgiveness and a shared goal of moving forward. She acknowledges that building trust internally and in the community is an ongoing process that starts with taking care of the people who work for you. Other goals she hopes to accomplish is growing the police force through recruitment, advancing the use of technology and putting in place a leadership succession plan through promotions. She credits her own successes to many mentors she has had along the way. They showed her respect and a way of leading that gave her confidence in herself.

Lessons of leadership

  • What she learned from her three dogs and a blind cat - "If you can't eat it or play with it, pee on it and walk away."

  • No matter how high you go, remember where you came from

  • You are always representing the department

  • There is no balance, only priorities

  • Do it anyway

  • Self-care, working out and doing yoga first thing in the morning

Finally, she recounted a story about a time a woman asked her to pose for a photo with her daughter. Her unimpressed daughter resisted, asking her mother, "Why?" When she told her daughter that it was the Chief of Police, the daughter said "So, what?" Capt. Ballard's take away was that this was the legacy so many women who came before gifted to us...when young girls don't think twice about what a woman can achieve. Thank you Capt. Ballard, you are truly inspiring!

Alice Guild

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For our September luncheon, our OWL ladies were honored to hear from Alice Guild.  Alice spoke about her work in restoring ‘Iolani Palace, leaving a legacy in the history of Hawaii represented by this unique palace.  

In 1882 King Kalakaua commissioned the ‘Iolani Palace to be built in a European style. It was completed in 1882 and served the monarchy until the overthrow in 1883. The Palace stood through a provisional government, the Republic of Hawaii, the Territory of Hawaii and finally the State of Hawaii.  By 1969, however, there was a rumor that the Palace would be torn down. Alice was chair of the Junior League of Honolulu’s Project Research Committee and was looking for a project that the members could get behind. Beadie Dawson suggested, “Why don’t we save the Palace?” That was the seed that started it all.  

The Junior League of Honolulu brought Charles R. Peterson on board to work on historic restoration of the Palace and create a plan of action. The recommendation was for there to be a commission to be appointed under the auspices of the State of Hawaii which the governor would oversee. This would be a commission of laypeople and would include: a researcher, a historical register to be published and sent to museums and collectors on a regular basis, and a watchdog organization to be formed.

Alice went back to the Junior League and asked for a 3 year commitment to publish the historical register. The Junior League served as facilitators in the process and a watchdog organization was formed called “The Friends of ‘Iolani Palace.” Rhoda Hackler, a researcher, came forward and led the 99 women through this 3 year commitment.  

At the end of 3 years, these committed women completed the project with remarkable results. An Acquisition Committee chaired by Jean Steven spent tireless hours locating and purchasing original furniture from the Palace. Today most of the furniture in Iolani Palace is original.  The Junior League continued to help and to this day many members are involved. Restoration of the Palace took 10 years to restore for $7.5 million and restoration projects continue to this day.  

Alice Guild worked with the Junior League of Honolulu and the late Princess Lilioukalani Morris to found the Friends of ‘Iolani Palace. She later served as Executive Director and Chairman of the Board of Friends. Today this National Historic Landmark serves as a museum which people flock to from all over the world.

Claire Hughes

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Dr. Claire Kuuleilani Hughes

-- By Lisa Ma

Our guest speaker for the July OWL meeting was Dr. Claire Kuuleilani Hughes.  Dr. Hughes has been an advocate for Native Hawaiian Health for over 30 years.  She became the state’s first Native Hawaiian registered dietician in 1959.  Dr. Hughes was appointed the chief of nutrition at the State of Hawaii Department of Health.  Her work to promote a more traditional Hawaiian diet and health programs for the Hawaiian community earned her the recognition as one of Hawaii’s Living Treasures by the Honpa Hongwangi Mission of Hawaii in 2011.  She shared her views on legacy and her fascinating research in what became the Molokai Diet.

Claire began her talk with a discussion of legacy.  She shared the stories of three women she felt provided a strong legacy in the Hawaiian culture:

  • Anna Rice Cooke – art enthusiast and collector and the founder of the Honolulu Academy of Arts
  • Queen Liliuokalani – gifted songwriter including Aloha ‘Oe and best known for her philanthropic gift of a trust for orphans and destitute children in Hawaii
  • Bernice Pauahi Bishop – lands used to fund and establish Kamehameha Schools

Dr. Hughes believes her legacy is built by hard work and doing a good job.  In addition, her driving principles are:

  • Act according to professional standards
  • Choose how to accomplish the job
  • Judge outcomes constantly
  • Do things outside employment
  • Take pride in accomplishments

It was long known that the Native Hawaiian population suffered from health issues that caused them to have a shorter life expectancy.  In the late 1980’s , Dr. Hughes worked with Doctors Emmett Aluli and Kekuni Blaisdell to study the high incidence of cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes in Native Hawaiian people. The common factor was diet and with her background, Dr. Hughes was specifically requested to come to Molokai to assist with the study.  The participants were taken off the high fat diets they were consuming and ate only traditional Hawaiian foods.  The goal was not to lose weight.  They wanted the improvement in health to come from diet, not weight loss.  In 4 weeks’ time they saw a 20 point drop in cholesterol.  Dr. Hughes shared with us a comparison chart on the Molokai Diet versus an American diet.  78% of the calories on the Molokai Diet come from carbohydrates including taro, rice, potatoes, vegetables, fruits and seaweed. 

Besides her important work on this study, Dr. Hughes also helped to secure federal funding for culturally-based health and nutrition programs for Native Hawaiians.  Dr. Hughes was part of a panel that testified before the U.S. Senate resulting in Congress passing the Native Hawaiian Health Care Act of 1988.  

Susan Yamada, Director of University of Hawaii Ventures

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Entrepreneurial Thinking in the 21st Century Workplace

Did you know your current occupation could be obsolete in the next 5 to 10 years?  As global economies evolve, and the accessibility of information increases through technology, it is critical that we gage our skill level to that needed in the 21st century workplace.  Here are the four core C’s: 

1.     Creativity: Be innovative, curious and imaginative.  Think outside the box to find new solutions to old and most importantly, future problems.  Utilize new tools and models to be agile and adaptable to the organization.

2.     Critical Thinking: Learn to ask good questions - “Why?”  Practice creative destruction, as nothing can remain the same.  Evaluate whether your current practices need to change.  Avoid the ‘analysis paralysis’.  Too much information can often cloud what is important to take action.

3.     Collaboration: Build cross cultural project-based teams.  Understand that top down management is no longer effective.  It is important to be open to opinions and skills of the front-line team and allow individuals to speak up.  However, you will need to build alliances by working alongside these individuals first before taking in their recommendations.  Build trust.

4.     Communication: This is both written and verbal.  Garner the ability to express your view clearly by having a voice of non-confrontational tone and most importantly learning to listen.  

To create, continue the four skills above and keep in mind the following: 

  • Gray is the new black.  Learn to make decisions without perfect information.  Decision-making is no longer based on black and white information.  
  • Be an innovator and take initiative.  Volunteer for new projects.  Look for solutions, not just problems.  If you are not failing, you are not taking the initiative. We learn through our mistakes.  To be innovative, continuous learning is vital – new business ventures, models, markets, trends and technology.  
  • Risk taking is the new sexy.  Practice by taking risks every day.  To start, take small steps.  Offer your opinions to gain confidence.  Empower yourself by learning new skills and pushing your comfort zone.  Those that don’t fail are not setting high enough goals. Get used to feeling uncomfortable.  
  • Establish a new legacy.  Start by refocusing on the 4-C’s.  Big companies need to act like startups to stay viable.  Keep pace with the change by continuously learning new skills and being comfortable with discomfort.  

Occupations are evolving every minute.  There are new positions that did not exist 10 years ago. Hawaii’s economy is diversifying, creating these new positions to support innovation and remain viable for the future.  That is why it is critical that we continue to re-evaluation knowledge, skills and ability to ride through hard times by providing team support and collaboration. Additionally, embrace the four C’s – Creativity, Critical Thinking, Collaboration and Communication.