Sharon Weiner Invests In UH’s PACE
Local business executive Sharon Weiner, founder of Stryker Weiner & Yokota Public Relations, recently has committed a $25,000 donation to Pacific Asian Center for Entrepreneurship (PACE) at University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Shidler College of Business.
Weiner’s contributions will support PACE’s five-year growth plan, as well as the university’s push to monetize research. Weiner hopes that her donations can help to “make a difference in the future of Hawaii in a positive way.
“The pace of change is so exponential that in order to keep up, we have to be innovating. And that doesn’t mean that you have to be an entrepreneur to do it, but I think you have to have the mindset of being creative,” Weiner continues. “The more innovative, the more creative we can be, the more successful we are going to be.”
That’s a sentiment that PACE executive director Susan Yamada echoes. Technology, she asserts, has changed the scope of every industry — and continues to do so.
“With everything changing so quickly in the 21st century, our feeling is that you really need to be an entrepreneurial thinker, no matter if you work for someone or you’re working for yourself … You have to be able to evolve and be comfortable with change and adapt to change,” Yamada says.
With that in mind, PACE strives to instill critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills in its students. Currently, PACE runs about 20 programs that include a speaker series, internship placement, one-on-one coaching, business plan competitions and more.
The five-year plan, which kicked off last February, entails both physical expansion and program growth. Through the initiative, PACE will renovate its space in order to provide a vibrant co-working center that is designed to be conducive to collaboration. The initiative also outlines plans to double the amount of entrepreneurial programs at PACE. For one, it is looking to partner with international businesses for student internships.
The initiative also will help PACE expand its programs to reach beyond the walls of the business school and into other UH departments. Yamada says that if students in various disciplines team up, “it could be just a fantastic, revolutionary source of companies that they could start.”
Weiner’s recent contribution is part of her longstanding support of the university. In 2010, she established The Sharon Weiner StartSmart Entrepreneurship Endowment at PACE, which gifted a total of $150,000 to fund both existing PACE programs and develop new ones.
Weiner’s dedication to the university stems from her own time there. A New York native, Weiner moved to the Islands in the 1970s to pursue an MBA at UH. She recalls that the classes provided her a solid career foundation — but adds that her experience went beyond academics.
“In my classes were a number of business executives and people who became good friends,” Weiner recalls.
After running Stryker Weiner & Yokota for 20 years, she sold the company to serve as vice president of international global communications and government relations of DFS Group. Nowadays, Weiner, who has since retired, is dedicated to supporting a new generation of entrepreneurs.
“When I was in school, there was no program for entrepreneurs at the university,” she says, “so this is really exciting.”
For more information and to donate to PACE, visit pace.shidler.hawaii.edu.