Pono Shim and Monique P. Gomes

Pono Shim and Monique P. Gomes

My name is Monique P. Gomes and it was an honor to hear from Mr. Pono Shim, President and CEO of Oahu Economic Development Board.

Mr. Shim began his presentation by elaborating on sustainability. He believes that people often mistake our Hawaiian Ahupua’a as a concept of sustainability when it is truly a concept of prosperity. Hawaiian Ahupua’a was a way of life for our Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian people) where they prosper spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

He also spoke about his career. Mr. Shim was hired, not as an economist, but as a healer. He stressed that the #1 issue across industries is the ineffective engagement with employees. He pointed out that these type of issues are people centered and cannot be solved with artificial intelligence. Therefore, learning to engage with people and heal relationships is Anonui (of great importance).

Guest Speaker Pono ShimMr. Shim learned how to engage people as a child, by observing his father at work. His father, who practiced law, provided meaningful opportunities for the community to Malama (take care) of each other. In particular, his father played a vital role in implementing the Hawaii Law of the Aloha Spirit, drafted in 1985 and passed in 1986, making the state of Hawaii the only state in the United States with a law that is culturally sensitive. According to his father, “one day every law will fail, but we (in Hawaii) have a law that would give us the opportunity to choose relationships over law.”

Other topics Mr. Shim spoke about include finding the hidden objects, a story about his father’s aunt Pilahi Paki who was the Keeper of Secrets, and the secret meanings of ALOHA.

In conclusion, Mr. Shim’s presentation was extraordinary and it spoke to my Puuwai (heart). We will now be mindful that ALOHA is not just a word but a concept with depth and movement which creates a foundation for relationships. Being aware of how we can find the Aloha Response allows us to build within our community. We must be Maika’i (good people) listening with Aloha in order to give an Aloha Response, with gentle touches and clean gloves. Therefore, no matter where we go, we will always leave this place better than how we found it.


Written by: Hogan Entrepreneurs Program student, Monique P. Gomes
Speaker Session with Pono Shim 11/1/17
Photos taken by Nathanael Cassion