CFO award recognizes heavy lifting done by Hawaii execs

March 20, 2009

Pacific Business News (Honolulu) – by Jim George

The “bean counters” and “numbers crunchers” of a few generations ago wouldn’t recognize their 21st century counterparts.

No green eye shades. No plastic pocket protectors. No hiding out behind stacks of budget books in the back office.

Today’s chief financial officers enjoy unprecedented power and prestige. CEOs depend on their CFOs for much more than translating spreadsheets and preparing monthly financial reports.

The 19 men and women recognized in PBN’s special pull-out section today are good examples.

Dean Hirata, PBN’s CFO of the Year, was instrumental in transforming two corporate cultures into one when Central Pacific Bank and City Bank merged five years ago.

Glenn Abe has spent more than three decades helping to transform Hale Makua Health Services into a first-class facility on Maui. He has a handle on every aspect of the operation, including services for residents and clients.

City Mill’s Elise Burkart may carry the titles of CFO and treasurer, but she has worn a developer’s hat for the past two years, helping the local hardware chain develop Simply Organized, a new retail concept and store in Kapolei.

Lee Ann Matsuda has brought her passion for helping others to her job as Easter Seals Hawaii’s top financial person. “Crunching numbers for a mission like ours is more fulfilling,” she says, comparing her role to previous ones in the for-profit sector.

When he’s not preparing financial reports, Sean McCully can be found running cable wires through ceilings and fixing computer glitches at Hagadone Printing Co. Colleagues say he possesses a rare combination of fiscal awareness and technical savvy.

Cindy Neeley may be AlohaCare’s CFO, but until recently she was pulling double duty managing its human resources department.

In addition to being The Arc of Hilo’s top financial executive, Deborah Perkins is its top grant writer and fundraiser.

As head of finance and operations at the Consuelo Foundation, Jonathan “San” Vuong has had to master the tax and corporate laws and accounting rules of two countries thousands of miles apart — the United States and the Philippines.

Then there’s Tim Wong, who, in effect, is operating two companies in one. As vice president and CFO of Sopogy Inc., he’s preparing to take the privately held company public within the next two years. “We’re a startup, but we’re implementing processes as if we’re a public company,” he says. | 955-8033

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