Maintaining a positive outlook amid changing skies

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Hawaiian Airlines’ senior director maintains that optimism is essential 
By Dani Douglass

Hawaiian Airlines, like many other companies throughout the islands, is experiencing a difficult time in its history because of the COVID-19 crisis. With uncertain times ahead, the company continues to adjust its operations to keep employees and the public safe and since earlier this year, the airline has continued its flights to provide transportation for essential workers.

One of Hawaiian Airlines’ leaders is Senior Director Lance Higa, EMBA ’05. The Shidler College alumnus wants fellow alumni to know that just like most things in life, the current challenges will eventually subside. “Leaders emerge in times of crisis,” he said. “This will pass but the memory of those who stepped up to the challenge will not. Look ahead at what each of us can do to learn from this crisis and use this experience to build your skills and mental toughness.”

Lance Higa

Lance Higa is a senior director at Hawaiian Airlines

Higa has worked with his leadership team to develop and implement systems in response to the pandemic to assure the safety of the public and their employees. They have created opportunities for those employees who are able to work remotely do so, enhanced cleaning on all aircraft, limited the number of people per flight in order to create a less crowded experience, provided as much spacing as possible and implemented crew precautions to keep teams as safe as possible.

In addition to the health and well-being of the community, Higa worries about Hawai‘i’s economic future. “The fallout from the pandemic will have significant social and economic impacts on almost everyone in the state for a very long time and with each day that passes in the stalled economy, it gets progressively worse.” Higa said. “I’m also concerned that the services provided by state and local government will be severely impacted by lost revenues for a long time to come, creating a bow wave of infrastructural needs that are likely to overwhelm the system at some point.”

When asked about what advice he can offer to students who will be graduating into a time of uncertainty and limited opportunities, Higa looks to the bright side and reminds them that attitude is pivotal. “Do your best not to let the crisis of today diminish your hopes for the future,” he said. “Opportunities arise out of tragedy. Keep a positive attitude, alter your previous perspective and way of thinking and make adjustments to your life path based on what is changing around you. Personally, I can tell you that people who do, regardless of their skills or experience, are the ones who find opportunities when it may look like few exist.”

Higa said that his education from the Shidler College of Business and the networking he’s done with the alumni community has provided immeasurable value to his life. “Education is something that once endured, comes into play daily in your work and your personal life,” he reflects.

To Higa, positivity and strength remain steadfast components in getting through this difficult time. “The world has been challenged during the pandemic in ways few of us could have imagined,” he said. “But the world has been through this before and has emerged each time a little smarter and a little stronger as a result of the people stepping up and figuring things out, and it will do so again so stay positive!”