Women in Tech

The Women in Tech webinar series is an effort to encourage women to explore technology and technology-adjacent careers. By highlighting the different roles women technologists are fulfilling in their organizations, and the paths they took, we hope that the stories shared will provide guidance and inspiration to embark on a technology-based career. We also envision building a more robust community of women technologists here in Hawaii.


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An interview with Deena Tearney, CEO and Co-Founder of Pacific Point Inc., Hawaii's only Salesforce-certified consulting companyDEENA TEARNEY, CEO & CO-FOUNDER, PACIFIC POINT INC.

As one of Hawaii's leading tech entrepreneurs, Deena founded Pacific Point Inc., the state's only Salesforce-certified consulting company and has grown its presence in 4 cities globally. Prior to entrepreneurship, she served as an IT consultant for the Hawaii state judiciary and Hawaiian Airlines. And before coming to Hawaii, Deena worked for large corporations such as IBM Global Services, Capgemini, Ernst & Young, CompUSA and Sprint. She is a strong advocate of STEM and is passionate about encouraging youths to pursue careers in technology.

"Experience - knowing how to do something, applying yourself and really demonstrating that you have that skill, is the No. 1 thing..." - on developing actual skills for a job.

Watch the interview here.
Hong Phan, Co-President of Datahouse, Hawaii's largest IT Consulting CompanyHONG PHAN, CO-PRESIDENT, DATAHOUSE

As a first-generation immigrant with no college degree or a background in technology, Hong started her career in data entry and transformed herself into a systems architecture expert through sheer determination, a love for problem solving and experimentation and hard work. Today, she serves as Co-President for Datahouse, Hawaii's largest IT consulting company - overseeing projects and spearheading the growth of the company in Vietnam.

"Everything we do should have a purpose - every career and the career choice we make should be tied to a purpose."

Watch the interview here.
Interview with Jamie Frady, UX/UI Lead Designer, Central Pacific BankJAMIE FRADY, UX/UI LEAD DESIGNER, CENTRAL PACIFIC BANK

Leveraging her knowledge acquired from working for large companies such as Microsoft and Avalara in Seattle, Jamie is now part of a core team leading the transformation of Central Pacific Bank's digital customer experience. She is also proficient in JavaScript, having graduated from a developer bootcamp. Jamie actively contributes to the growth of the UX/UI community in Hawaii as the Digital Director of the AIGA Honolulu Chapter.

"Truth in yourself, truth in your work, truth in your team - being real is the most important thing."

Watch the interview here.

After completing her graduate studies, Cybele broke up with her old plans to work as a policy analyst and embarked on a soul-searching journey to find her "career fit" (read her essay here). Through this experience and her strategic use of LinkedIn, she is now a Customer Experience Team Lead at New-York based fintech company, Betterment. Prior, Cybele has guided and helped build-up diverse communities within organizations like Lyft, the International Rescue Committee, and Komeeda.

"People respond well when you are authentic, when you are just telling your story and sharing your experience."

Watch the interview here.
Picture for Women in Tech webinar series featuring Michelle Cheung, Director of the TRUE InitiativeMICHELLE CHEUNG, DIRECTOR, TRUE INITIATIVE

With decades of technology strategy and implementation expertise in the financial and real estate industries, Michelle served in leadership positions with Locations in Hawaii, as well as Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Citibank in New York. Currently, she is the Director of the TRUE Initiative, a private-public partnership focused on driving technology adoption and knowledge-sharing in Hawaii to create higher-wage job opportunities.

"Everywhere you go, every person you meet, you should have a positive impact and leave it better than it was before."

Watch the interview here.

With an extensive background in analysis and modeling, Colleen uses the skills she developed in academia to lead a team of data scientists for First Hawaiian Bank as the manager of the Data & Analytics Department for the state's oldest and largest bank. Prior to moving here almost 3 years ago, she won a graduate student research fellowship through NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to study Mars' paleomagnetic fields, and a post-doctoral research position as part of NASA's GRAIL mission to study the gravity signature of impact crater formation on the Moon.

"Rejection and failure are a part of life for everyone; I have been rejected so many times, but I don’t consider them to be failures because I learned from them and didn’t let them stop me from achieving my goals. I definitely cried after some of them but I never gave up."

Watch the interview here.

A true local girl who graduated with a degree in computer science from Hawaii Pacific University, Adrienne Chee worked her way up in corporate Hawaii as a female technologist, starting in data processing to spearheading complex technology projects and strategic implementations for Central Pacific Bank today. She is an advocate of innovation and transformation, leading some of the bank's critical IT projects such as a call center built on AI to a collaboration platform to introduce “new ways of working”. (To learn more about how Central Pacific Bank implemented AI for call centers, visit this link)

"Don't beat yourself up...My biggest thing was self-criticism. That was my challenge throughout my entire journey so self-compassion is something that resonates with me. Learn to obsess about good things and accomplishments as opposed to beating yourself up over things you thought you could do better. Be thankful for you."

Watch the interview here.

Julie Yamamoto is General Operations Manager at Hui Car Share, Servco Pacific's car share program, and one of Hawaii Business Magazine's 20 for the Next 20. She is a Hawaii Baptist Academy and UH Mānoa graduate who started her career in the male-dominated industry of motorcycle sales with Cycle City, eventually rising to become the General Sales Manager. Julie took the plunge in 2017 to join Hui, which was then a startup, and spearheaded its growth to become Hawaii's largest car share company through a partnership between Servco Pacific and Toyota. Her efforts also made Hawaii the first location for the car-sharing service in Toyota's global deployment plan.

"If it wasn't for every single person in the Hui team, and the whole of Servco, we won't be as successful as we are right now. It is about everyone being helpful and working together as a team, that's the only way to be successful."

Watch the interview here.
Women in Tech banner featuring Simone Smith of Amazon Web ServicesSIMONE SMITH, MANAGER, GLOBAL CAMPAIGN ACTIVATION, AMAZON WEB SERVICES

Simone has spent the last year and a half working at Amazon Web Services (AWS) and currently leads the Campaign Activation team, helping to adapt and execute AWS product & solution campaigns across the world. She has previous experience with Marketing Automation, Digital Marketing, and Marketing Strategy and worked at several early and late stage B2B technology startups in Portland, OR. She is a staunch advocate for diversity & inclusion workplace initiatives and in her free time enjoys hiking with her dog, Lola.

"Being a woman of color, to be be resilient and believe in yourself, to have confidence that you can progress in your career - I would say grit really encompasses all of that."

Watch the interview here.
Women in Tech Banner featuring Ellen Ng of Hawaii Technology Development CorporationELLEN NG, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST, HAWAII TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION

Looking to help small-medium tech companies grow beyond Hawaii while equipping local-based companies with technology best practices led Ellen to join HTDC as its Economic Development Specialist. Prior to Hawaii, Ellen worked in various capacities within technology including strategy, planning, and business development for global companies such as LG Mobile and Samsung SDS. The highlight of her career was working in Silicon Valley alongside rising startups like Box and DocuSign. Ellen also served as the Head of Growth for startups in the Singapore-based accelerator, The Co-Foundry (now known as TNB Ventures).

"The root word for "courage" in latin is "from the heart". To me, courage is understanding what you want, your passions, desires and interests, and it is a big part of all the leaps I have taken in my career journey so far."

Watch the interview here.
Banner featuring Akemi HiattAKEMI HIATT, CMO & OWNER, HIDDEN GEARS

As the head of design and project management for Hidden Gears, a Hawaii-based e-commerce and digital marketing firm, Akemi leverages her background in the arts in her approach to crafting thoughtful interfaces that balance beauty with technical performance and extensibility for websites. She was a fellow of the Good Work Institute and is a contributor to the Shopify Partner’s Blog.

"My dad's career advice to me was "Be Excellent - Do what you say, do it well, as well as you can."

Watch the interview here.
Visual featuring Kelly Qian of eWorld Enterprise SolutionsKELLY QIAN, PROJECT MANAGER, EWORLD ENTERPRISE SOLUTIONS

Kelly Qian is a Project Manager at eWorld Enterprise Solutions, a Hawaii-based IT consulting and services company. Leveraging her background in education management, she successfully transitioned into a project management role in technology and quickly acquired the skills to remain competitive in the industry. Kelly believes strongly in giving back to the local community through active sharing of her experiences.

"Stay humble. There are always going to be people who are more experienced than you, with more certificates, more knowledge, more seniority - the ability to stay humble and say "Let's work together, let me learn from you" is what will serve you well in your career."

Watch the interview here.

Summer is a lead associate data scientist in the Strategic Innovation Group at Booz Allen Hamilton. With a PhD in Complex Systems and Brain Sciences, she lends her expertise in deep learning, natural language processing (NLP), anomaly detection, and performance measurement to projects within one of the world's leading consulting firms. She is also an avid quilter who makes excellent cold brew coffee, and a cat lover. To learn more about Summer, visit her personal page.

"Technology, as in life, you are going to fail, you are going to make mistakes and especially as women, we tend to put a lot more emphasis on our mistakes than our successes but if you start looking at things as part of the job or part of coding, it becomes a little more bearable and helps you remember that, you are going to have success right around the corner."

Watch the interview here.
Takaho Iwasaki, CEO and Founder of MajiConnectionTAKAHO IWASAKI, FOUNDER/CEO, MAJICONNECTION

A native of Japan, Takaho identified gaps that hindered cross-border business and technology exchange opportunities between Japan and the U.S., specifically Hawaii. So upon completion of her MBA at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, she started her own company, MajiConnection to help SMEs and startups in Japan and Hawaii connect to explore innovation-driven, tech-based projects. Before establishing her career in the U.S, she built her sales chops at Fuji Television in Tokyo and her family business in Kagoshima, Japan. Takaho is also the brains behind "Island Innovation Demo Day", the first of its kind in Hawaii which showcases Japanese and Hawaii startups bringing about innovative solutions to solve "island problems".

"Working in the tech industry and being an entrepreneur, you have to do so many new things - there is so much information and new updates and you might be afraid of new innovations but in the end, I think everything is so exciting. I never get bored working as an entrepreneur so don't forget to be excited."

Watch the interview here.
Hawaii Women in Tech series featuring May Wang, Associate at Fin Venture CapitalMAY WANG, ASSOCIATE, FIN VC

May Wang is an Associate at Fin Venture Capitalpital where she is responsible for sourcing investments, developing co-investment opportunities, maintaining board responsibilities, and adding operating value at portfolio companies. Prior to joining Fin, May was most recently an MBA associate at multiple VCs focused on Fintech and B2B investments. She also went to Poland to help a startup expand to Europe and launch the new office. May has worked in Goldman Sachs in Tokyo where she managed multi-billion-dollar liquidity assets for the company; and Capco, where she worked on global projects with major financial institutions clients as a consultant.​ May holds an MBA from Columbia Business School, and speaks fluent Mandarin, Japanese and basic Spanish.

"Say "yes" to unexpected opportunities. The opportunity to work in Japan was so unexpected...I was strategizing and whiteboarding how I should develop my career in the New York office and suddenly this (opportunity) came and I said "yes" to it and had an amazing time living and working in Japan. A lot of things will happen to you in life and journey that are totally unexpected - but be open-minded and say "yes" to it, you might learn and discover new things. Enjoy life as a journey."

Watch the interview here.

Francine Beppu is the Network Strategy Director at NMG Network. Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, she brings a unique perspective as a change agent in the world of media and entertainment. In her role, Francine develops innovative go-to-market strategies for delivering original content to travelers around the world, utilizing technology and collaboration to create cloud-based distribution channels that enhance the way entertainment is consumed. Over the past four years, Francine has curated over 25 branded channels under the NMG Network, reaching a global audience of 10 million and growing.

"We all have the ability to create our own realities and fulfill our goals. You can have a ton of ideas but without taking that first step or having a strategy or plan in place to take one step to get there means nothing. Be intentional with your actions and act with kindness to others."

Watch the interview here.

Darien Siguenza is the Program Manager at FoundHer Accelerator, a women's accelerator program under the Purple Mai'a Foundation. Darien earned her MA in Global Leadership and Sustainable Development at Hawaiʻi Pacific University, with a focus on sustainable practices of Hawaiian apparel companies. She has supported over 70 startup companies while working at LA Cleantech Incubator (LACI), and Elemental Excelerator. While at LACI, Darien served as a member of the Women in Cleantech Committee, which developed programming to give women founders access to investors and networks to set them up for success. Darien is also experienced in fashion design. She is a Los Angeles native, with familial roots in Hawaiʻi.

"Life is hard. I am sure everyone has had some challenges, especially in the past year and it can really easy to just curl up in a ball and not push forward. There are seasons of challenges, seasons of growth and seasons of prosperity so I would encourage everyone to keep pushing forward."

Watch the interview here.
Susan Yamada Women in TechSUSAN YAMADA, VICE CHAIR,

Ms. Yamada is responsible for creating a center for innovation whose mission is to educate students to think entrepreneurially and support University innovators. She served for nine years as the Executive Director of the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) at the University of Hawaii, after leading two startup companies in Silicon Valley and one in Hawaii.

Ms. Yamada is interested in the diversification of Hawaii’s economy through the creation of high-growth, entrepreneurial companies. She was a founding member of the Hawaii Angels, a network of high net worth individuals who invest in start-up companies and an active mentor and investor in Hawaii-based, start-up companies.

Ms. Yamada currently serves on the boards of KCAA Preschools, The Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship, Pacific Guardian Life, and The Queen’s Health Systems. She grew up in Hawaii, graduated from James B. Castle High School, and earned a BBA degree from the University of Hawaii and an MBA degree from San Jose State University. Ms. Yamada has two children and enjoys golfing, traveling, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

"To change is the future. Embrace change. The more you try to fight it, the harder your life becomes."

Watch the interview here.

Chenoa Farnsworth is the Managing Partner of Hawaii-based Blue Startups, a top 20 U.S. Accelerator (Techcrunch). To date, Blue Startups has invested in 82 companies which have gone on to raise $120 million in venture capital. She also manages the Hawaii Angels investment network, which has invested over $60 million in over 100 startup companies.

In 2010, she founded Hi Impact, a Hawaii-based impact investment organization which led to the establishment of the Impact HUB Honolulu in 2012, a co-working space dedicated to social entrepreneurs. In 2006, she co-founded Kolohala Ventures, a Hawai‘i-based venture capital firm that invested $50 million into Hawai‘i-based technology start-ups. Prior to that she provided strategy development and business planning consultation for start-up companies and high-growth businesses through her company Farnsworth Consulting.

Chenoa has served the community as chair of the Women’s Fund of Hawai‘i, director of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association, director of the Entrepreneurs Foundation of Hawaii, director of the Impact HUB Honolulu, and judge for the University of Hawai‘i business plan competition. She earned a BA in political science from the University of California at Santa Cruz and an executive MBA from the University of Hawai‘i.

"Hawaii tends to one down ourselves but we are just as good as any entrepreneurship ecosystem in the world - I know that for a fact...We can compete globally, we just have to believe we can."

Watch the interview here.

Meli James, Co-Founder of Mana Up Hawaii and President of the Hawaii Venture Capital Association.

Prior to Mana Up, Meli's career path led her to Silicon Valley where she cofounded her first company, Nirvino, a #1 ranked wine app, an Apple Platform Top 100 App, and Top Ten Lifestyles App in 2007. She later moved back home, bringing her experience to Hawaii accelerators Blue Startups and the University of Hawaii’s Venture Accelerator. Meli has been recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of five Women to Watch and as one of eight Women Leaders Who Are Disrupting Entrepreneurship. She serves on the board of UHA Health Insurance and board of regents for Chaminade University. Meli is a graduate of and entrepreneur in residence at Cornell University.

"(Level Up) is a word very dear to my heart because that is what Mana Up is all about...We had to all learn how to level-up, especially this last year and a half but as entrepreneurs, we are always leveling up. As investors, as we engage with life, how do we continue to have that entrepreneurial and ownership mindset, coming at challenges, and engaging with the world while leveling up..."

Watch the interview here.

In December 2018, Governor David Ige re-appointed attorney Iris Ikeda as the State Commissioner of Financial Institutions. Ms. Ikeda has been the Commissioner since January 2011, first appointed by Governor Neil Abercrombie.

Under Commissioner Ikeda’s leadership, the Division of Financial Institutions (“DFI”) became re-accredited by the Conference of State Bank Supervisors and the American Association of Residential Mortgage Regulators (“AARMR”) in 2018. Under Ms. Ikeda’s leadership, DFI first achieved accreditation in 2012 for banking supervision and 2015 for mortgage supervision. The CSBS accreditation program sets high standards for state banking regulators nationwide. Forty-two out of 52 states and territories meet CSBS accreditation requirements. In 2015, DFI was the eighteenth state in the nation to be accredited by the CSBS/AARMR for mortgage supervision. The CSBS/AARMR accreditation program sets high standards for state mortgage regulators nationwide.

Ms. Ikeda has a breadth of experience in banking as she has worked at a state-chartered depository financial services loan company (formerly known as an industrial savings bank), a state chartered denovo bank, and a national savings bank. Ms. Ikeda is a 2007 graduate of Pacific Coast Banking School and has an undergraduate degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and a law degree from Willamette University College of Law.

"Imagine what you want and in what way you can make the world better, in what way you can make Hawaii a better place to live in. Through imagination and creative ideas, I think that is the way to move our state forward. I hope I practice that on a regular basis, making it better not just for me but the entire state."

Watch the interview here.