Hawaii Information is only the second company Diana Haraguchi has worked for.
Her nearly seven years of service at HIS comes after a 34 year career at Honolulu corporate giant Servco. But despite a relatively short resume, the HIS vice president for administration takes pride in having worked in nearly every aspect of business, and even today seeks out new opportunities to spread her wings.
Diana was born in Tokyo, Japan, her father sent there as a translator for military intelligence after the war. But her family returned to Hawaii when she was four months old. By the time she was four years old, her mother had left, so she credits her dad and grandmother for raising her and her two brothers.
She was the middle child, and had a very active childhood.
“In the neighborhood where we grew up, Manana Naval Vets housing in Pearl City, there was only one other girl,” she said. “So no dolls, no dresses, and we would play baseball, football, basketball… I was a total tomboy.”
Diana attended Pearl City Elementary, Highlands Intermediate, and — after moving to Waipahu — Waipahu High School.
“It was my uncle’s house, but he lived on the mainland when he bought it,” she recalls. “A three bedroom, two bath place was only $34,000.”
Diana didn’t join any official school clubs, but in the days of high school social clubs, she and some friends named their group “Just Us.” They were a studious crew that took classes together, read together and hung out in the school library almost every day.
“I was geeky, into reading mysteries and epics,” she says. “And I still keep in touch with that core group of friends today.”
Although her dad passed away when she was 17 years old, she stuck with her plan and enrolled at UH Manoa with an ambitious goal of earning a mathematics degree. But after a few semesters of racking up empty credits while she waited for required math courses to become available, she realized that she already had enough credits to get a psychology degree instead.
“I didn’t know how much longer I wanted to stay in school, so I graduated with that,” she recalls.
It was during college that she got her first, and only other, job, at Gibson’s Discount Department Store in Mapunapuna. Starting as a sales clerk, she was able to pay her way through college, and from there, Diana says her corporate journey was set.
“Working at Gibsons led me onto the path I’m on now,” she says, noting that she was quickly promoted to marketing manager, then shifted to the administrative offices as an executive assistant.
“They gave me the first computer in our division, a Zenith, and they just plopped this clunker on my desk,” she recalls. “No instructions, no training, so from then on, everything I know about computers and applications I had to learn myself.”
But Diana says that she saw that as something new and interesting rather than a challenge. Her role shifted again to retail property management and development, and she even earned her Realtors license, and in working with contracts and lenders and tenants, picked up skills that she uses every day at HIS.
As Servco CEO George Fukunaga explored new lines of business, she followed and learned along the way. Diana says, “I’m really thankful of all the opportunities that were there, for the experience that he gave me.”
And just like that, she had been working for Servco for more than three decades. During that time, she met and married her husband, a veteran carpentry foreman, moved to Pacific Palisades, and raised two children, Nickolas and Jillian.
“I’m so thankful they turned out to be good kids, no problems in school, and both have finished college,” she says with relief. “My son is more happy go lucky, while my daughter is more like me, intense and driven.”
“I’m kind of driven but I have fun too,” she adds. “I’m not as serious about certain things.”
With her children now young adults, Diana figured it was time for a change, and in May 2006, she landed at Hawaii Information Service. After working on projects that lasted years and years, she said she was looking for something simpler, more day to day.
“Of course it didn’t turn out that way,” she laughs.
Diana fell naturally into the administrative side of things, working as the executive assistant to the CEO while also focusing on contracts, bylaws, and rules. She played a part in nearly every aspect of the business, and she was glad for it.
“That first thought that I was going to come and just do one thing, that changed, and needed to change,” she says. “There’s always something that comes up, always something new to get involved with, and that’s one of the things that motivates me to stay.”
But Diana is also quite fond of the small, close-knit team she works with every day.
“It is just like a family here, and it’s so different from being at a big company,” she says. “At my last job, our company had over 1,000 employees, and so many tiers of management and procedures, you had to work your way up to senior management just to get approval to buy a $30 calculator.”
She also likes working with HIS members, who she says are very different from the business people you might find on Oahu.
“It’s refreshing to work with neighbor island folks, they’re different, they have lots of aloha, they say ‘mahalo,’ and we don’t do that as much on Oahu,” she explains. “Much less politics, more ‘what you see is what you get,’ very earnest and direct.”
In addition to her administrative acumen, Diana is also known in the office for her skills in the kitchen. She’s hailed by her coworkers as an excellent baker and cook, although she downplays her abilities.
“I’d been cooking for the family since I was 12, so in a way, I had to do it, and I wanted whatever I did to be good,” she says. “I couldn’t do it for a living, but I like doing it for people who enjoy it.”
Outside of the office, Diana’s skills extend to sewing, knitting, and quilting. She speaks fondly of her 1952 Singer sewing machine, converted from pedal power to an electric model, that she still uses today. She says she used to be able to sew a dress a week, and made all of her own clothes for years. And the walls of her home feature her quilts, lovingly framed by her husband.
She also passes the time in her garden, growing tomatoes and cucumbers and squash and string beans, even earning ‘Yard of the Month’ from her neighborhood association. And she and her husband are life-long University of Hawaii football fans.
“We’ve had our season tickets since the stadium was built, and we’ve missed very few games, from the VonAppen years to the undefeated season,” she says. “UH went to the Sugar Bowl, and we went to see them play.”
Indeed, Diana says she wouldn’t get out much at all, were it not for football.
“We went to Nevada once, when they played there,” she says. “Next time we go anywhere it’ll probably be a football thing, too.”
You can ask Diana to share the recipe to her famous white chocolate pretzel dessert by emailing her at email@example.com. Make sure you didn’t miss our earlier profiles ofPreston, Richard, Faith, Sam, Victor, Jerry, Gay, and Novena.