Hawaii Tourism Authority Turns to Inkinen & Associates to Fill Leadership Posts

July 31, 2018 – Honolulu-based search firm Inkinen & Associates has been selected by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) to fill three key leadership positions. The recruiting firm is seeking a new president and chief executive officer, a chief administrative officer and a vice president of marketing and product development.

Last month, the HTA board of directors voted to fire president and CEO George Szigeti without cause. Members of the board were reportedly concerned about state budget cuts, among other factors. The new president and CEO will be charged with supporting the policies and instructions of HTA’s board, which include providing information and recommendations on a wide range of subjects, said the agency.

The individual is also responsible for representing HTA’s interests and position during the Hawaii state legislature, which includes providing testimony, comments and information on legislation that has an impact on HTA’s operations and/or the welfare of the tourism industry; representing HTA to the general public, tourism industry stakeholders and state government officials by conducting speaking engagements to share information and obtain comments; and identifying objectives and criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of contracts and programs, which may include participation in negotiations and the procurement process.

Qualifications for the role include a college degree and a minimum of 15 years experience in a senior leadership role, said HTA. The job also requires demonstrated superior executive leadership and administrative skills; being capable of establishing a rapport with HTA’s board, staff, government officials, tourism industry stakeholders, marketing partners and the general public in an amicable, visionary manner; serving as an effective spokesperson in conveying the spirit of Hawaii, including the uniqueness of the people, place and culture. Candidates should also have excellent strategic planning skills that will result in economic benefits with long-term success in various initiatives and programs as well as an understanding of Hawaii’s economic structure.

Chief Administrative Officer

The new chief administrative officer will be responsible for working closely with the president and CEO to fulfill HTA’s strategic plan, said the agency. The person must also manage all aspects of day-to-day operations, including matters relating to fiscal affairs, procurement, project management and personnel; oversee the fiscal management of HTA and the Hawaii Convention Center; serve as HTA’s liaison with government departments and principal contractors regarding financial matters; and be responsible for the proper and efficient conduct of all public meetings of HTA’s board, including compliance with legal requirements under the state’s sunshine law.


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Candidates should have knowledge of the principles and practices to deliver administrative accountabilities in a large organization, said HTA. They must also be able to make sound decisions based on effective program plans, policies and procedures; have general knowledge of government financing and capital improvement analysis; and be an effective communicator, both in writing and in delivery of oral presentations. Also required is a master’s degree or equivalent professional degree with work experience in administration and management plus fiscal, operations and contract administration.

VP of Marketing and Product Development

The vice president of marketing and product development is responsible for formulating and supervising the development of strategic tourism marketing plans and programs supporting the objectives, policies and guidelines of the Hawaii state plan for the tourism industry, including HTA’s strategic plan; formulating and maintaining a comprehensive marketing plan in targeted global markets that support the sustainable management of the state’s tourism industry, while considering community values and resident sentiment; and developing an analysis, as well as sales initiatives, to market Hawaii for leisure and business travel and be capable of presenting HTA’s plan to the public, including legislative testimony.

Qualifications for the role, according to the HTA, include extensive knowledge of tourism marketing, advertising, product development and other strategic promotional practices; a bachelor’s degree in business, travel industry management, marketing communications or related field; a minimum 10 years of progressively responsible experience in travel, communications, advertising or marketing; and having worked as a senior-level manager with supervisory experience and development of employee responsibilities.

Inkinen & Associates places executives and management personnel with companies in Asia, Hawaii and the mainland U.S., assisting firms with executive through middle management placements in all industries. The firm has a long history of finding talent for a variety of roles, including C-suite, vice presidents, directors, managers and supervisors. Inkinen also provides human resources support services to corporate and individual clients, including career transition services.

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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