Our Member Spotlight on Vaughn Hokama, Food and Beverage Operations Manager at HMSHost. Vaughn is our YP Membership Chair and serves on our YP Steering Committee.
Please tell us about your current position and company.
I am a F&B Operations Manager for HMSHost at the Honolulu International Airport. HMSHost is part of Autogrill S.p.A. – the world’s largest provider of food, beverage and retail services for travelers.
Please tell us a little about your professional history (i.e. college, past work experience, etc.).
I have been in management with the company for 14 years. Prior to my experience at HMSHost, I was an Assistant Manager for HTH Corporation at the Pagoda Restaurant. I graduated from Pearl City High School and hold a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Management from the University of Phoenix.
How did you decide on your current career path?
I started from the bottom and worked my way up. Sounds cliché, but its true. My first position with the company was as a fast food attendant at Burger King. All I ever did was work and got promoted to shift leader…shift supervisor…assistant manager…and now operations manager. Not many people aspire to be an F&B manager; they dream of other things like being doctors, lawyers, firefighters, and so on. I didn’t choose my career, I think it choose me.
What is the biggest obstacle you overcame in your professional career?
The biggest obstacle I had to overcome as a professional was dealing with my own maturity issues. As a young manager with a certain degree of authority, I knew it all and could do no wrong. However, reality taught me otherwise. I struggled with the resistance of others around me and wondered why things seemingly never worked in my favor. I had to take a good look in the mirror and come to the realization that I was not Vaughn almighty. That experience has humbled me and I feel that I am a better people person now because of it.
What do you think are the biggest challenges for young professionals in Hawaii?
I think the biggest challenge for young professionals in Hawaii is the limited size of the business community. There are only finite amounts of executive level positions in Hawaii. I believe this is the reason we see top talent leaving the islands for other opportunity. Surely, a certain percentage of the talent will return; however, the greatest impact players are scooped up and retained by larger corporations.
Where do you see yourself/your business in 10 years?
In 10 years, I can see myself operating a branch for HMSHost. I’m gaining a lot of experience through programs like YP and other opportunities that the company lays out for me. HMSHost has invested in my growth by sending me to various branches on the West Coast in supporting and learning roles. I would like to continue being a sponge and soak up everything I can, so I can be ready to achieve my goal when the opportunity arrives.
After a hard day at work, what do you do to unwind?
Although I don’t get as much chance to so nowadays, I love to surf to unwind. There is just something about the water that is so liberating on the soul. Surfing, by far, gives me the best release over any other activity that I can think of. That and a few beers…
If you could have lunch with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
I would like to have lunch with lunch with my folks and express my gratitude for raising me right. They have given me everything I need to be a contributor to society—and by that; I don’t mean tangible or material things. I mean thinks like manners, morals, ethics, values… I can’t remember when any one of those things set in, it occurred throughout my life—somewhere between the hugs and whippings. I am grateful that my parents are alive and healthy, and now is a good of a time as ever to have that lunch with them.
Give us a parting thought or words of wisdom to other young professionals.
“Do or do not, there is no try.” This is a quote from Master Yoda. It makes sense to me because try is associated with failure. Think about it; when a person has a task to accomplish, should they do it, or try to do it? If they tried to do it, they probably didn’t accomplish it.