Eric Fujimoto ’94 advises students to persevere and show humility
The best rate of return and the stock market ticker symbol to keep a close eye on is YOU or ME. Sage advice from Ho‘ea Wealth Advisory Group Principal Eric Fujimoto, the guest speaker of the School of Business and Communication’s inaugural Dean’s Speaker Series. In his address to students, the 1994 Chaminade MBA graduate and Board of Regents member advised attendees to double down and invest in themselves.
“There is nothing wrong with making money,” said Fujimoto, who was ranked Barron’s Top 1,200 Financial Advisors and #1 in Hawai‘i and Forbes Best-in-State Wealth Advisors from 2018-2023. “But, do it ethically and use it to better your community. Shift the focus from money to people.”
The Dean’s Speaker Series is designed to bring private, nonprofit and public sector leaders who have achieved recognition in their respective fields to share their expertise and insights on a broad range of timely issues, as well as share the highlights, challenges and turning points of their individual career paths.
The intent of the forum is to bring a diversity of social, cultural, economic and other business-related perspectives to the Chaminade community in order to engage in ways that inform and encourage sustainable business for good.
“The impetus for the Series is to provide co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities for students to augment what they are learning in the classrooms with relevant and high-impact experiences,” said School of Business and Communication Interim Dean Annette Santos. “Ultimately, this event has an underlying call to action to students who are reminded that they are empowered to create a sustainable future that reflects the values and the priorities of their communities through the knowledge they glean from their educational experience at Chaminade.”
Awarded the US Small Business Administration’s Small Business Person of the Year for the City and County of Honolulu in 2020, Fujimoto’s wealth of experience not only includes offering solid financial advice to his clients, but also serving as a member of various nonprofit organizations, including Drug Free Hawai‘i, Central Union Church and, one that he is particularly eager to help, Unity Prom, which is an effort to provide students with disabilities the experience of a normal high school prom.
“We were the students and they were the teachers,” said Fujimoto, choking up in a video address that he played during his Monday evening talk. “The Ho‘ea Foundation is a proud sponsor of this event, which gives these high schools the chance to enjoy what other kids their age experience every year. And we’re always looking for dates, so if anyone wants to be a prom date, contact her—pointing to Jill Higashi, Chaminade’s Assistant Vice President of Advancement.”
After Fujimoto’s talk, freshman baseball player Jacob Villacorte said he learned a lot, and the message of perseverance and giving back to the community especially meant a lot to him. “There were things I didn’t know about,” said Villacorte. “It was a good learning experience.”
Consistent with Chaminade’s mission of community service, the Speakers Series is framed around the theme, “Sustainable Business for Good,” which also aligns with Chaminade’s CIFAL designation. Speakers are selected based on their demonstrated commitment to transforming lives and advancing communities.
“I’ve had the privilege to visit other universities, but Chaminade is the only one where you feel a sense of community that genuinely wants you to succeed,” Fujimoto said. “The people here care about you; they put great ideas in front of you; so you were right to choose Chaminade.”
Santos hopes students will feel the same way after they attend the Speakers Series.
“There are several takeaways that I hope will resonate with students,” Santos said. “The first is to be inspired by the personal and professional journey of the featured speakers in ways that enhance their educational experience; the second is to understand that personal and professional growth is a process that involves challenges and turning points on the way to wins and transformation; and the third is to provide opportunities for them to build their network, possibly creating meaningful connections with speakers or those in attendance.”
Gesturing as if he was steering a car on the H-1 freeway, Fujimoto made one final point to the students: they are in the driver’s seat and they determine the course of their destiny. “If you were just to turn the car by one degree, what do you think would happen,” he posed to the students. “You will end up at a different destination.”