Remarks of Governor David Ige as prepared
November 23, 2015 – Management Information System (MIS) Splash at Shidler College of Business, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa
I want to talk about a couple things, I think you have a terrific panel. For those of you who are currently students or near graduation, you probably are in the perfect storm of opportunity. I’m certainly going to talk a little bit about what I see coming from the State side, but I think that there was activity all across our community that would be very, very interesting work for those of you who choose to do that.
I have spoken about my mission of the Hawaiian Islands as a place future generations can choose to call home. It is something that’s very personal and dear to my heart. I have three children who are currently attending school on the mainland, and for me it is personal. I would love for them to feel like they have an opportunity to pursue their career choices here in Hawai‘i and be able to find work that challenges them, a career that enthralls them, most importantly that they feel like they can buy a home and raise a family in what I found to be the best place to do that.
It really does mean a couple other things. This really means that we need to create a Hawai‘i that creates jobs and career opportunities for all of our young people so that they can be enthusiastic about having the opportunity to come home or stay home. I want them to contribute to the State’s economic growth, become stewards of our environment, enrich the social fabric of our communities, and most importantly add to the depth, breadth and history of what makes Hawai‘i such a special place.
This is not a totally hypothetical, unbelievable scenario. I’m glad that I chose to remain in Hawai‘i, and I do know that many of my classmates and friends chose otherwise but we hear so much more about people choosing to return.
I would just love to come to the new State CIO, Todd Nacapuy, a Waialua High School graduate, a public school. Todd left a lucrative career as an entrepreneur in Seattle to come home to Hawai‘i, he worked for Microsoft and now he’s chosen to join us in public service, organizing and leading the State’s technology team to set the right systems and resources in place for more effective, efficient and open government that is honest, transparent and responsive to its citizens.
My hope is that you won’t have to leave the State to succeed in an IT or innovation career. We need you to come work for Todd and the other systems, departments, and other employers that are here today to truly modernize the State’s systems, data collection, and reporting functions that make our State work. We need you to help us create and implement reforms that improve efficiency and accountability. Let me just talk a little bit about the horror stories, you might have heard some of them.
Our financial management system is so old and antiquated, it’s unbelievable. It runs on a main frame and was programmed in COBAL. How many of you have programmed in COBAL? All the young guys are going “what?” Our financial management system is so old that we can’t get replacement parts. We buy them off of eBay. The IT staff does such a remarkable job. I’m always amazed at how they continue to keep it going in spite of all of the restraints and resources that we face.
Our payroll system is so antiquated that we actually can’t do direct electronic transfer. When was the last time you heard a system today that can’t do electronic transfer? Everybody does it.
Our tax collection system is so antiquated that whenever we want to make a change, it requires a bucket of money and at least 18 to 36 months to implement any change. Clearly, none of these characteristics are what I would call leading characteristics of a modern information system.
But I am committed to changing that system, and Todd, I’m so thankful, has agreed to answer the call with some encouragement and lots of negotiations. On his behalf, I would just want to let you know that we certainly would want you to come and work for the State. It is such an opportunity for all of you to consider.
I told Todd we’re on a mission–sorry other CIOs in the room–to make working IT for the State of Hawai‘i the best, most desirable job that anybody would want to have. I’m committed to making that happen and Todd is working with me.
So what have we done to do that? We are finalizing a pilot project to update and expand the position descriptions and classification systems in the State. We know that we need to be able to compete with all of the employers here. Our old personnel classification systems was antiquated and they would be fine in the dark ages. It really didn’t give us the kind of flexibility that we needed to recognize today’s skills in today’s environment.
So what does that mean? We do need more flexibility. We know that so much of what the job skills for the modern IT guru is partly academic, and captured in A, double A, BS or BA degrees, but so much of it today is certification, right? It really is about how we can recognize the acquisition of skills either OJT (on the job), or develop additional short-term certification or other programs that are so vibrant in the technology industry today.
We are focused on developing a way so that we can recognize when people get a Microsoft certification, Cisco certification or complete training and academic program on coding or cybersecurity because those things are not and were not recognized in the personnel systems before.
So I’m just giving you guys notice, we definitely are making every effort that we can to modernize our personnel system so that we can entice and encourage you to come join the State as the best employer.
Let me just say this, over the next five years we are going to be spending hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade the IT systems in state government and there’s no other employer in the room that can upgrade. We are making systems for electronic health records and insurance. We have financial management, budgeting systems, systems to manage projects and contracts, insurance, you name it, we have it. So let me just assure you that we are not going to be the same old State employer where we bring people in, train them up, and then they get stolen by these guys.
We are also working on a couple other areas that I think are very important. We received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The State was awarded $2.9 million to fund ITWorks, Hawai‘i’s apprenticeship initiative, working with the University of Hawai‘i. It’s funny that we are applying an old union, traditional kind of modeling to the IT sector today. It really is about trying to create an apprenticeship program so that people can pick up the skills that they need. For the most part, as I said, in the IT world it is targeted, focused, specific skills that are needed in projects that we need to step to the plate and fulfill.
We’re interested in ensuring that when we have jobs in the IT sector that we don’t have to go and recruit people from the mainland. We want them to be filled with all of you here because we do know that when we import workers, sometimes they’re here for a short period and then they leave. I think all of us who manage people and are involved with recruitment understand that when you get someone who truly calls Hawai‘i home, you have a much, much better probability of keeping them for their entire career. We are excited about that opportunity.
The University of Hawai‘i community colleges will be helping us to work with the IT industry, looking at how we can set up this apprenticeship program. I used “apprenticeship” terminology very loosely because it really is not about that. It’s really doing everything we can in the short term until Shidler and everyone else can spin out the 4-year programs, but really trying to get IT workers into and available for jobs that we do know we have a hard time filling.
I am a strong believer in enhancing our economy. I do know, on behalf of my children, that this really is about creating quality jobs, those types of jobs that are presented by the IT and innovation sector. So I look forward to working with the university in partnership to do both of those things—create quality IT workforce and spur the innovation economy here in Hawai‘i.
I am just so excited to be here. I want to thank all of you for being here and I just wanted to thank the CIOs who chose to be here. We are working from the state level doing a lot of different things in order to create the job opportunities and career opportunities to keep more of our young people home.
I just wanted to talk a little bit about why it’s so important to me, and so near and dear to my heart. As Dean Roley had said, I graduated from the University of Hawai‘i in electrical engineering. I do have fond memories of being a student here at the Manoa campus in the College of Engineering. When I graduated from the university, I had 41 job offers. I had 40 of them on the mainland and I had one local job. I had job offers from San Diego, Seattle, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Kansas, Washington D.C., all of those places that are considered attractive and I chose to stay in Hawai‘i—and I’m so happy that I did.
Today is really about creating opportunities so that more of these students can feel great about choosing to stay in Hawai‘i and be part of creating and growing our economy here. I want you to have 40 job offers here and one on the mainland and then you can think about which one you really want to take.
Let me just talk briefly about Leilani. She grows up in Mililani, starts learning about coding in elementary or middle school, just one or two classes or at summer competitions, but it exposes her to the technical skills that she needs. At Mililani High School, she joins the robotics team, yay, and they win the state competition and they win again at the nationals. She goes on to University of Hawai‘i and studies engineering or IT in the college or in Shidler College of Business. She learns business through the Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship or other opportunities. Leilani and her friends cook up a Star of Paia and they compete in the UH business plan competition, submit their business company idea to XLR8UH, another opportunity for business development. After Leilani graduates, she goes back to her robotics roots and applies to the Hawai‘i Robotics Accelerator affiliated with NASA. And even when her first company fails, which sometimes does, it’s okay because she’s learning how to be innovative and resourceful. She’s adaptable and nimble enough to switch ideas, pivot and start again.
As the State ramps up its IT workforce development and creates expanded career pathways for State IT employees and others, I hope that our departments will be able to recruit Leilani. We want her to help us change state government. She wants — we want her — to join Todd Nacapuy and the rest of the State IT workgroup to make a difference here in Hawai‘i. I think it’s so important today in 2015 that a girl like Leilani, who has just graduated and although she has had other offers in some of those Silicon Valley destinations, she chooses to stay in Hawai‘i and she’s here working for a hot new start up. It is exciting to see more and more of these things and I just wanted to close with a couple of specific examples.
Besides Todd who is heading IT for the State of Hawai‘i, there’s an entrepreneur named Darius Monsef on the Big Island who sold his company a few years ago and is building a new company in Waimea. Just recently, he closed a successful funding round and he’s continuing to grow the company.
That’s also happening on Maui where a veteran entrepreneur named Tina Fitch has come home and has hired local software developers to help her build a new mobile app. She, too, is successfully fundraising to grow her company here in Hawai‘i.
You will soon become drivers of Hawai‘i’s new knowledge economy if you choose to do so. You will create new IT and innovative businesses that will create demand for other high wage jobs. In the process, you will start to generate wealth which enables the State to have the resources we need to tackle the challenges in social and environmental issues that we face each and every day.
This is my hope. This is my vision for Hawai‘i’s future, for my children, your children, and our children’s future to create the kind of Hawai‘i for you to be able to choose to call home. Thank you very much.