It is not a well-kept secret how Connie Lau manages her time as chief executive of two large companies. Her secret? Being able to focus on activities where she can add value. And rightfully, her keynote position for Hawaiian Electric Industries Inc. and American Savings Bank has set the tone for her to become one of the most powerful female business leaders in the entire United States.
To Connie, leading her subordinates towards one direction, one goal is key to successful governance.
“You have to set the tone that everybody is marching at the same direction and they’re all going to do the right thing,” Connie says. “And the right thing is generally defined in business as the right thing for the customer.”
As a leader, Connie employs visionary organization as opposed to visionary leadership. She rebuilt American Savings Bank with the mindset of getting the most out of each individual in her team.
“We looked for great individuals and we had a number of them in the company,” she says. “Then what you do is you look for that kind of special contribution that each person can make and you encourage it.
“I guess the mastery is in pulling all of these individual skills and experiences and backgrounds together and this wonderful mix where everybody supports everybody else,” Connie adds.
Connie Lau talks about her management methods and the characteristics that she, as a leader, looks for in prospective team members. Connie also shares how her mother had influenced her to be a responsible community constituent.
All these and more only here on Greater Good Radio.
Constance H. Lau
President and CEO, Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc.
Chairman, President & CEO, American Savings Bank
Chairman of the Board, Hawaiian Electric Company
Constance H. Lau was named director, president and CEO of Hawaiian Electric Industries, Inc. (NYSE – HE), holding company for Hawaii’s electric utility and its third largest financial institution in May 2006. This appointment designates her as one of only 20 female chief executives at the helm of a Fortune 1,000 company, and one of fourteen women leading an electric utility in the country. Connie will also chair the board of HE’s electric utility, Hawaiian Electric Company, which provides electric service to 95% of the residents of the state of Hawaii.
In addition to her new role at Hawaiian Electric Industries, Connie will add the title of chairman of the board to her present titles of president and CEO of American Savings Bank, Hawaii’s third largest bank with $6.9 billion in assets, which she has headed since June 2001. Connie is also president of the Hawaii Bankers Association and is ranked #11 in the country in U. S. Banker magazine’s ranking of the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking in the U. S.
Connie joined HE in 1984, and has been a valued executive with the Hawaiian Electric Industries companies since then. Before joining the bank, Connie was Treasurer of the parent company, and Assistant Corporate Counsel and Treasurer for Hawaiian Electric Company, as well as Chief Financial Officer of HEI Power Corp., HEI’s international power subsidiary. In late 1999 she became Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of American Savings Bank and became President and CEO in June 2001. She began her career as a corporate attorney in San Francisco and has been involved in finance, law, real estate development, investments and international business.
In addition to being recognized nationally by U. S. Banker magazine as one of the top 25 most powerful women in banking, Connie was ranked for the second year in a row in the “Fast Lane” top five for transforming American Savings Bank from a sleepy thrift into a fast-growing player in Hawaii’s business community. She was also named “Business Leader of the Year” at the 2004 Pacific Business News Leadership Hawaii event, a prestigious award in Hawaii’s business community.
Connie believes in actively supporting the community and is a trustee or director of several educational and non-profit organizations such as Punahou School, Kamehameha Schools (Hawaii’s largest private landowner), the Hawaii Business Roundtable, Charles Reed Bishop Trust, the Consuelo Zobel Alger Foundation and the Maunalani Foundation. She is also a board member of Alexander & Baldwin, Inc. (NASDAQ – ALEX).
Connie earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Yale University, her juris doctor law degree from the University of California’s Hastings College of Law and received her Master’s in Business Administration from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. She is married to Russell Lau and they have three children.
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