Taking another look at the management of Aina Koa Pono, the company selected by HECO to build and operate a biofuel refinery using an as-yet commercially untested technology. Its “board of advisors” includes company co-founder Melvin Chiogioji of Mele Associates, familiar figures like attorney Paul Alston, former HECO president and CEO Bob Clarke. Then there’s Kimberly Dey, not really a household name.
In the company-provided bio, we learn:
Kimberly Dey is CEO and owner of NumberEight (N8). N8 was created in 2010 through the partnership agreement between Nothing But Results (NBR), a locally-owned, boutique marketing company with a successful track record, and Liquid Planet Studios (LPS), one of Hawaii’s largest and most diverse HD production companies.
Hmmmm. There’s more.
An entrepreneur by nature, Dey also operates a portfolio of several other business entities, including an accomplished sport horse breeding business, which is an extension of her love for horses, competition and sport. Her horses have earned numerous national and international awards and she, herself, is an established rider who was the World Champion Amateur Hunter Rider for two consecutive years and the first Asian American to win such honors.
Then we learn why this accomplished horse breeder and champion rider is in a position to advise a company trying to upscale this technology for the first time, with electrical ratepayers statewide picking up much of the tab.
She also works as the Vice President for her father’s private charitable organization the Charles B. Wang International Foundation, which focuses internationally on children and cross-cultural affairs.
Aha. Her father is Charles Wang, the billionaire who co-founded Computer Associates back in the mid-1970s.
Mention that she is an officer of the Charles B. Wang International Foundation quickly led me to a New York Times story by Stephanie Strom(February 23, 2011) providing an entertaining look at hardball politics in the work of philanthropy.
Kimberly Dey and her husband made news in 2006 buying three contiguous lots along Kahala Avenue for a reported $34 million, and started planning a new house on the property. The properties were put up for sale this year for $45 million after plans for the house were dropped. The experience of evacuating during the March 11 tsunami warning made Dey reconsider the idea of oceanfront living, according to a story in PBN.
A Wikipedia profile of Dey’s father, Charles Wang, describes his career with Computer Associates as “marked with controversy.”
In building up CA, Wang engaged in fifty takeovers followed by immediate firing of top management and key employees. His strategies had provoked descriptions like “rapacious”, “heartless” and “Attila-the-Hun”, largely driven by the draconian practices he engaged in with acquired companies, although these tactics were legal in the State of New York. The most notorious of these practices included forcing the employees of an acquired company to sign new employment contracts on-the-spot at a company meeting without prior warning – employees who refused to sign at the meeting or wished to have the contracts reviewed by a third party prior to signing were immediately fired.
He also alienated many in and out of CA by his paternalistic, family-oriented management style. In 1979, three years after CA’s founding, Wang had installed his older brother Tony, a onetime corporate lawyer, as president and COO. Tony held the position until his retirement in 1992 to make way for Sanjay Kumar. In 1998, Nancy Li, Charles Wang’s second wife, was named CA’s chief technology officer. Wang has argued that the investment community was punishing CA’s stock because of his refusal to override his sense of familial loyalty to avoid the appearance of nepotism.
All this, of course, really has nothing to do with whether or not Aina Koa Pono can pull off its engineering feat and make this renewable project work. It does, however, add a bit more background information about the power structure of Hawaii’s search for new sources of energy.