Sunday, November 2, 2003


Dave Thomas, Bank of Hawaii vice chairman of retail banking, stands in the breeze way at the bank's downtown headquarters.

National role brings
visibility to local banking

Dave Thomas

>> Day job: Bank of Hawaii vice chairman of retail banking
>> Board post: First Hawaii banker to serve a chairman of the Consumer Bankers Association.

>> Work history: Began a 30-year banking career at American Fletcher National bank right out of college in management training. Joined Summit Bank in Princeton, N.J. in 1998. Came to Bank of Hawaii in 2001.

How long have you been with Bank of Hawaii and what are your duties there?

I've been here two-and-a-half years and I am responsible for all of the retail banking activities which include our branch network, consumer lending, mortgage lending, our business banking division, the ATM call center, Internet channels and our marketing department.

How is Bank of Hawaii changing to meet the needs of its customers?

We feel that one of the ways in which we can distinguish ourselves from the competition is by focusing on providing exceptional services for our customers. That's not a new concept, but I believe it's one that we as part of the overall restructuring of Bank of Hawaii have began to focus on more than in the recent past. Providing customers a choice in terms of how they do their banking is the most important thing that we can do. Some customers enjoy the branch, some the ATM, some the Internet or the telephone. Most prefer to use them all. We are also making a lot more investments in our branches. We've completed two major branch renovations, both of which exceeded $1 million, and we're in the process of two additional renovations which are also in that same range and we are planning for more renovations in the next couple of years.

How long have you been involved with the Consumer Bankers Association and what led to your being elected the first Hawaii banker to serve as its chairman?

I've been involved with Consumer Bankers Association for about 10 years and I've served on a couple of committees of the Consumer Bankers Association and have served on the board of directors a total of six years. I am flattered and excited that my peers asked me to take on the responsibility of the chairmanship.

What are the priorities of the Consumer Bankers Association?

The Consumer Bankers Association focuses on four primary areas. First, the organization does a fair amount of lobbying to help promote issues for retail banking. We also conduct industry conferences and do relevant research on benchmarking trends in the industry so that we can provide input back to our member banks. The CBA also manages the graduate school of retail banking, which is a banking school based out of the University of Virginia. It's a three year program that bank officers attend to expand their knowledge.

How will your role as chairperson of the Consumer Bankers Association affect the banking industry in Hawaii?

The visibility of me serving in this role, both with my peers on the board and the opportunity I that have to interact with other people in the industry, just calls attention to how healthy and strong the Hawaii economy is, the great market that we have here, and the fact that this is a great place to do business.

How do you balance an active banking career with your new professional duties as CBA chairman and your volunteer duties as 2003 Campaign Chairman of the Aloha United Way?

I think first and foremost the fact that I have the absolute best team that I work with here at Bank of Hawaii, who really understand the responsibilities that they have to do and take on a great burden on their own to make sure that their individual business are performing the best they can, really allows me to have the extra time to devote not only to overseeing the business here at Bank of Hawaii, but to devote to other activities. Secondly, I am an early riser so I do get in the office early and it does give me the opportunity before the day starts to deal with issues that arise related to Consumer Bankers Association, they are based in Arlington, Va. so I have an opportunity to talk with them in the middle of their workday before the workday really starts here.

What inspires you to stay motivated and stick to your goals even when the going is tough?

I think I learned from one of my early mentors in my career that as long as you do your best you can never be ashamed of the effort that you put forth. I really do strive to work hard at doing my best every day. Another individual told me once, that the only thing I can control is my attitude. I can't control the weather, I can't control what's happening with interest rates, I can't control how someone else is going to react or perform their job, but what I can control is my attitude and I always try to keep a very positive outlook and a positive attitude about whatever situation I'm dealing with and I try to find the solution.

What has your experience with Aloha United Way meant to you?

The experience with Aloha United Way has been fabulous. What I have learned about the commitment that it takes to support the nonprofit agencies in Hawaii that are supported by Aloha United Way is amazing. The number of people involved and the generosity both in terms in dollars and time of the people that support Aloha Untied Way is just really, really impressive. The fact that I've had the opportunity to be in a leadership role of such a great organization that does such great work in our community has really been a humbling experience for me because I am just a very small part of a huge outpouring of support for our community.

Inside Hawaii Inc. is a conversation with a member of the Hawaii business community who has changed jobs, been elected to a board or been recognized for accomplishments. Send questions and comments to


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