ISLAND PACIFIC ACADEMY students had an invaluable opportunity to spend an hour with Hawaiʻi Business Magazine’s 2021 CEO of the Year, Ray Vara, at the Hawaiʻi Pacific Health offices on December 9, 2021.
Vara, President and CEO of Hawaiʻi Pacific Health, is a dedicated leader who has navigated the challenge of a once in a century pandemic. Through his hard work and leadership, he has led Hawaiʻi Pacific Health’s efforts to build a healthier Hawaiʻi. He is an advocate and leader in helping Hawaiʻi’s working poor achieve a better quality of life. He is the National Chairman of the American Heart Association and serves on several local and national boards.
The busy executive took the time to sit and talk story with the group of 10 IPA students, answering their questions about everything from how Hawaiʻi should deal with the omicron variant to how he maintains his motivation during difficult times. He shared the story of his personal journey and how he navigates the challenges of his profession. He also encouraged the students to explore their passions and dedicate themselves to finding ways to help their community.
“You’re not expected to have all the answers today. What you’re expected to do is to take the time to figure out what your real passion is and commit to working hard to make that a reality,” Vara shared. “But it will take some exploration, some experience, some willingness to try things you might not otherwise try and be open to it. And if you do that, you’ll land in a much better place.”
His words were an inspiration to these future leaders, and he shared with them some sage advice.
“Relax a little and don’t let the stress of what you want to be and all the things you have to do to get there consume you. It doesn’t mean you ignore them, or discount them, because there’s no substitution for hard work,” he explained. “But don’t set yourself up for failure by thinking you can script every step in every phase of your life. In all the things you are passionate about, work your very hardest, and try to enjoy the journey.”
The students were treated to snacks and invited to stay to watch Hawaiʻi Business Magazine’s CEO of the Year award ceremony virtually in the Hawaiʻi Pacific Health boardroom following their discussion.
Joining the students were Head of School Gerald Teramae, Secondary Principal Dr. Brandy Ann Sato, Director of Advancement Be-Jay Kodama, Director of Athletics Greg Terhune, and Student Activities Coordinator Ruby Fernandez.
IPA presented Vara with a lei, and a message of congratulations on his recognition as CEO of the Year by Teramae. “Thank you, Ray, for your passion and commitment to health care for the people of Hawaiʻi,” said Teramae. “You have led change in the way care is delivered, and along with your ability to navigate change, you have done so with hard work putting people above all else. Thank you for creating a healthier Hawaiʻi.”
“This really was an inspiring experience for our students,” shared Sato. “They had the opportunity to learn leadership lessons from one of Hawaiʻi’s most well-respected leaders in our health care community. Students asked Mr. Vara thought-provoking questions and he was very impressed with the caliber of students here at IPA. We look forward to having more of these opportunities and learning trips for our students in the future.”
IPA was proud to be a Student Sponsor of the event and thanks Hawaiʻi Business Magazine for providing such a valuable opportunity for our students.