Seven distinguished alumni recently participated in Wo International Center’s Global Careers Spotlight, a program that allows Academy students to learn more about alumni who live and work abroad. The Webex sessions took place over three days last week, with the following alumni:
- Ken Berger ’83 – sports and entertainment marketer in Asia
- Pam Hamamoto ’78 – former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva
- Virginia Loo ’92 – epidemiologist, Punahou School Director of Analytics & Planning,
- Allen Murabayashi ’90 – internet entrepreneur, founder PhotoShelter
- Kazumi Ogawa ’86 – UNESCO, currently based in Paris
- Butch Reddy ’90 – international investor, shuttling to Vietnam
- Byron Washom ’67 – Director of Strategic Energy Initiatives, UCSD
Wo Center Director Chai Reddy and Alumni Relations officer Patti Horii ’84 Oshiro organized the events, along with students Siya Kumar ’20, Noelle Nakaoka ’20, Juliana Shank ’20, Sydney Melton ’21, Celia Valenzuela ’21, Carissa Kanae ’22, Allena Villanueva ’22 and Alec Yueh ’22.
With a goal of providing insight for students who may be considering global careers, last week’s speakers shared their paths, answered questions and offered valuable nuggets of advice.
With the exception of Berger – who lived abroad before coming to Punahou and knew early on he wanted to pursue international business – most of the speakers thought they were headed for other careers, ranging from medicine, engineering, music and finance. “Be prepared to zig and zag, be flexible and explore new things,” Hamamoto told students.
Reddy also advised students to be okay to fail as they pursue their ambitions. “You don’t really optimize your opportunities unless you are willing to fail,” he said.
Networking is another important skill, Ogawa said, advising students to tap into their connections. “Never feel bad about using your Punahou ties,” she said. “Your ability is going to get you in, but know that you are competing with tons of other people, so use your relationships.”
Every speaker cited Hawai‘i’s diversity and students’ innate ability to negotiate differences as an asset in international work. “[Punahou is] one thing that will always bind you together,” Berger said. “The Punahou community will always be there to support you, but even beyond that, just the fact that you are from Hawai‘i will make you a member of a club that is truly unique.”
Said Hamamoto: Coming from Hawai‘i “gives you an empathy for other people and a way to better understand that people are bringing a lot to issues.”
The speakers agreed that their Punahou education prepared them well. Murabayashi said he valued “finding classmates and faculty that can share your enthusiasm and take it to the next level,” and went on to tout today’s inquiry-base and competency-based learning. “The reason the administration is pushing this is to find what you love and pursue it as much as possible,” he said.
With her deep experience in public health, Loo said collaboration and communication are keys to career success. “To work collaboratively is more sustainable than to try to have a dominant opinion,” she said. “How are you persuasive? It’s all playing out in the media every day. How do we make people feel that we respect their intelligence.”
Washom warned that the economic consequences of global climate change is one of the key issues the next generation must tackle. He advised students to cultivate the “agility and grace of a ballerina,” because they will have to learn to “pirouette, not just pivot” to respond to major global economic and environmental changes, as well as in their personal lives to maintain a work/life balance.