When opportunity knocked, they answered. Taking nothing for granted along the way, these four women found success in their own right, in their own fields. Driven with a strong sense of self, these inspiring ladies pursue their passions to rise to the top.
ALANA KOBAYASHI PAKKALA
Kobayashi Group Partner and Executive Vice President
When Alana Kobayshi Pakkala sought employment at family-run Kobayashi Group, her brothers respectfully declined. “They said that I didn’t have any experience. If i would agree to an unpaid internship for a number of months … they’d reconsider,” Alana recalls. That was more than 15 years ago. Now at 41, the Georgetown University grad’s days as an intern are well behind her, and she has come into her own, serving as partner and executive vp of the real estate development and investment firm. Her first project with Kobayashi Group involved managing the successful Kapolei Kai, a 204-single family home development. Since then, Alana has worked on vertical projects including capitol place, Hokua, and most recently, the residences of park lane Ala Moana, which is scheduled to open this April. and for Alana, family life in the city has bright days ahead.
“I really want to find ways that families can live in the most seamless way possible. I believe the future is to have more people living in the urban core … sharing amenities and sharing space is the best way to live. Of course, I’m biased, we build condos. but i think [vertical living] is the best way to deliver new homes to Hawai‘i, which is what’s needed …”
President & CEO of Preferred Hotels & Resorts
“We joke that I was born into the travel industry because my mom was a flight attendant for TWA and my dad was running a travel-related business,” says Lindsey Ueberroth, 41. While her current post has her traveling all over the world—more than 100 countries to date—she has a special place in her heart for Hawai‘i. Lindsey attended Punahou school while her father, John, served as chairman and CEO of Hawaiian airlines in the ’90s. Lindsey, too, is no stranger to the family business. she works with her father, mother and brother at preferred hotels & resorts, which the Ueberroths had acquired about 15 years ago. but it wasn’t intentional. After graduating from Wake Forest University, Lindsey found work with Andersen Consulting (now Accenture), and her dad needed her expertise. “My father was acquiring a lot of businesses, merging several companies,” Lindsey says. “I went ‘on accident’ to work for him because he needed some help with the change management pieces of it …” with a complete overhaul under her belt—Lindsey spearheaded the rebranding of preferred hotel group to preferred hotels & resorts in march of 2015—the company continues to grow exponentially under her leadership, redefining the way the hotel experience is rated.
ERIKA STEIN ESPANIOLA
Superintendent of Kalaupapa National Historical Park
For Erika Stein Espaniola, daily life is one of those rare instances where passion, sense of purpose and career blend seamlessly. As superintendent of Kalaupapa National Historical Park on Moloka‘i, the question isn’t “what do you do?” but “what don’t you do?” at 36 years old, she oversees the management of the park and handles everything from marine ecology to historic preservation and law enforcement. After archaeology work that took her to Mexico, Australia and the Solomon Islands, she ended up in Kalaupapa as an archaeologist. “It was one of those really great things where you kind of realize your intention and then it comes together six months later,” Espaniola says. “I kind of felt Kuleana—I needed to give to Kalaupapa in a bigger way beyond myself.” And she continues to give—not only to the land and the community, but also to the newest addition to her family: her nine-month-old baby boy. “I feel like I’m doing something towards protecting a really special place,” She says. “And my young baby will get to see it eventually and generations after him, [Kalaupapa] will still be there.”
CEO, Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women & Children
One could say that Martha Smith, 59, is exactly where she aimed to be. She began her career working as a respiratory therapist at a children’s hospital. Armed with master’s degrees in public health and business, she moved from Florida to Hawai‘i for a job as the head of the respiratory care department at Kapi‘olani Medical Center. “My goal was to become a hospital CEO,” she says. As she did with her personal goal, Smith guided Kapi‘olani toward a goal that the medical center set for itself: the opening of its diamond head tower. “[it] took over a decade of planning and work,” she says, explaining that physicians and staﬀworked with families to design a place that provided privacy, comfort and the best technology to support family-centered care.
“Our work for the future will focus on our mission to create a healthier hawai‘i,” Smith says. “Collaboration with our community and health care partners will be essential to our future success.” Smith is proud of the fact that Kapi‘olani provides access to quality health care to women and children, regardless of their ability to pay. “I am extremely fortunate to work with such a talented and dedicated group of staﬀ and physicians.” Smith, along with her colleagues, isn’t sitting on her laurels. Next up for the medical center: an expanded, state-of-the-art emergency department set to open later this year.