[ INSIDE HAWAII INC. ]
CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARBULLETIN.COM
Junior Achievement of Hawaii is a nonprofit organization that educates youths about economic literacy, finance and business concepts, as well as citizenship. The company's new president, Steven Grant, thinks his new job is a good fit with his background as a chaplain, salesman and continuing education instructor.
New nonprofit job quite an achievement
The president of Junior Achievement of Hawaii brings a unique background to bear on the mission of promoting the organization
Question: How did you go from a chaplain at a major hospital to a top sales producer?
Answer: It was sort of an odd transition, I would have to say, from a very structured institution and building to being a commissioned outside sales person. I don't really know how I made the transition except to be very good at people skills. All those skills translate very well into sales, because you're sitting, listening, talking.
» New job: The nonprofit Junior Achievement of Hawaii Inc. has appointed Steven Grant as president. He has 20 years of sales, marketing and management expertise.
» Previous jobs: From 1985 to 1991, he served as staff chaplain at the Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. He then shifted careers and became an outside sales representative for a health maintenance organization in San Diego. He became a sales manager, then a sales management consultant. In 2003, he took up sales and marketing of continuing education seminars to doctors in Hawaii on cruise ships.
» Age: 46
» Born and raised: Ontario, Canada.
And that was the end of your career as a chaplain?
A: That was the end of that. I think it was just too intense work. It was very intense. It was a steady diet of bad things. ... I also did a lot of prison clinical work in Canada and California and Texas ... and all that institutional counseling, listening, when you see people at the very end of their spectrum, it's very good skill training. I worked in federal prisons in Canada and in Vacaville, Calif.
You run across very interesting people who you would not want to run across in your day to day when you live, but still very interesting.
Q: What kind of people are we talking about?
A: I met Charlie Manson several times. Very interesting. Probably the most infamous person that I saw.
Q: What was your impression of him?
A: Very small, elderly, frail man. I remember sitting at a card table with him talking with the prison guards in the middle of the hallway between the cells. ... It was gibber jabber. All nonsense.
You either in stay in that work a lifetime and never get out, or move on after five years, because it is very emotional and psychologically draining work.
Q: Your last job involved continuing-education seminars aboard cruise lines. How did you get into that and what is it?
A: It is just a variation of what they do on land and at hotels. Physicians in many states have to get so many hours of continuing medical education. It's generally 40 hours every two years and it's mandated by the states in which they reside, and they have to go to these seminars that are put on by for-profits and nonprofits or hospitals or universities that put on these seminars for the doctors to attend, often done in resort areas.
Here they are done a lot on Maui or the Big Island. Virtually every weekend there are these continuing medical education seminars going on at hotels.
Q: Why did you get into it?
A: Well, actually I read an article several years ago before I moved here, with Dr. Chuck Kelley (of Outrigger Hotels), which helped me think about this marketplace. I've always liked working with doctors and health care. I was thinking, "What can I sell and market to doctors?" And he mentioned to me about this business or these continuing medical education seminars as something I might want to look into.
Q: What brought you to a nonprofit, Junior Achievement, after 20 years in business?
A: This is really a combination of, say, being in a church or a hospital. This is a nonprofit organization and a combination of all my sales and marketing experience. This really is what running a nonprofit is about. It's selling and marketing the services and mission of the nonprofit to the people you need support from.
It's sort of twofold: to help bring in new volunteers and go after individual and corporate donors for sponsorships, for events.
Running this isn't that much different from running a company in a sales and marketing function, getting your product and services out there, making sure people are aware of it.
Q: Many people may not be familiar with JA.
A: You're out educating kids in school about economics, civics and things they may not be getting in school already. As I've been here only a few weeks, looking back at my childhood, I didn't get any lessons in checkbooks, credit cards, business anything.
Going on into college and graduate school, I still didn't learn them.
I remember in high school that I had to take a home economics class and shop and physical education. You had to, but there was nothing on a financial or banking or savings 101.
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