July 4, 2014 | Source: bizjournals.com

People who make Hawaii work: Charles Kaneshiro

Charles Kaneshiro is president and chief operating officer of Group 70 International, serving a five-year term in accordance with the architectural firm’s governance structure. He has been with the firm for almost 15 years.

An Iolani School graduate, Kaneshiro, 52, holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Hawaii Manoa. He has led architectural projects at Iolani School, Hawaii Baptist Academy, the University of Hawaii and the state Department of Education.

Why I took this job: The honor and challenge of guiding Group 70 into the next generation of leadership.

Like most about the job: Group 70 has always had a heart for our community and purposely given back through many avenues including our foundation, the Group 70 Foundation, which has contributed more than $500,000 in support of nonprofits. As president, I have seen and felt the appreciation and goodwill of the community towards our company, and it’s heartwarming.

Like least about the job: Being in the newspaper. I’ve never been someone who likes the limelight; always preferred to be just part of the team. As the spokesperson for Group 70, I understand it’s part of the job, but not my favorite.

Immediate priority: We have always invested in our technology with the goal of being a leader in the area of Building Information Modeling – 3D design tools. We are currently in a stage of assessing and upgrading our entire technology infrastructure to support new goals and visions for this area of our practice.

Long-term challenge: Working with the next generation of our company’s leadership to ensure the transition process is gratifying for the entire team.

Strategy to overcome the challenge: Linking our future leaders with current partners who guide and mentor them to the next level of their professional growth.

Essential business philosophy: Vision + Sweat = Value 2(our firm’s motto).

Best way to keep a competitive edge: Annually assess yourself. Norman Hong, our CEO, has a saying that complacency is the first step to becoming irrelevant. The pace of technology and advancement of knowledge is changing our world almost daily. If we are not re-evaluating ourselves frequently, you’ll find that the world and your business competitors have passed you overnight. At Group 70, we annually take some time to reflect as a firm where we are and where we’re going.

Smartest move taken in my career: When I was a young intern, I would offer coffee or lunch to architects who were 15-20 years older than I. It gave me an opportunity to learn about their practice and ask for advice. I learned a great deal from these meetings and it helped shape my own professional goals.

What I value in my employees: Their talent, dedication and work ethic. Group 70 has always placed a high value on our employees. We invest to retain our staff during the down times and share with them during the good times. As a result, many of our employees have been with us for decades.

Most important lesson learned: Having written goals. I once heard of a study that Harvard did on its MBA graduates. They found that those who had written goals achieved far more than those who had unwritten goals or no goals at all.

Most overrated secret to success: Grades. It is important to study hard and strive for the best grades that you can achieve. But ultimately, unless you’re going for your PhD, I don’t believe grades are the primary key to success.

Most overlooked secret to success: Values. I have often heard success attributed to innovation, drive, self-confidence, and people skills, but values provide an important rudder without which you can easily go astray.

When I was little I wanted to be: GI Joe

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