Elected Official and Hybrid MBA Student: A Week in the Life

Takashi Ohno

Takashi Ohno | Photo Credit: Hawaii State House of Representatives

Takashi Ohno is a first year MBA student and a part of the Foster Hybrid MBA’s Class of 2022. In addition to his studies, Takashi has been a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives since January 16, 2013, representing District 27. With his incredibly busy schedule, we asked him to detail a week in his life. Takashi is a wonderful example of a successful work-life balance as well as the diverse applicability of the Hybrid MBA.

 

Takashi Ohno:

Hi! I live in Honolulu, Hawaii and am an elected State Representative. In my job, I make laws and help constituents. I got this job by running for office, and I keep my job by winning elections. Oh, and I’m a first year Hybrid MBA student. Welcome to a week in my life!

Monday

I have a six-month-old baby which means I always have a bright and early wake up call. I drop him off at daycare and head to work before 8 am. My wife works from home.

I reserve my mornings for focused individual work. For example, I’ll prepare to vote on bills during this time. I’ll compile a list of questions to ask in a committee hearing or take a closer look at existing statutes (laws). In the first months of the Legislative Session, there are thousands of bills to consider and they are often voted on. As the finish line nears and these ideas have a shot of becoming law, more scrutiny is placed on them.

I prefer to take meetings in the afternoon. I might have a Zoom meeting with a lobbyist from Airbnb about the regulation facing their hosts, a meeting with the President of the University of Hawaii to discuss student enrollment, or the Chamber of Commerce to discuss their legislative agenda for the year.

I decided to pursue my MBA because so much of my job impacts business. Government decides how much businesses pay in taxes, what type of regulatory laws they have to follow, and how much to pay employees (minimum wage). In the last nine months, the government has also decided which businesses may be open and how many customers they can accommodate! Better understanding the business world as a part of Foster has helped me do my day job at the Legislature.

The baby goes to sleep before 7 pm, and I’ll work on homework for a couple hours afterward before calling it a day.

I decided to pursue my MBA because so much of my job impacts business. 

 

Tuesday

I’ll let the baby take his first nap at home and squeeze in a workout before heading out to daycare and work.

This year, I’m lucky to chair the Committee on Public Safety and Military Affairs. That means I’ll be vetting the policy Hawaii adopts concerning prisons and the military. Our jails and prisons have recently seen COVID-19 outbreaks, and I’m committed to reducing recidivism. Hawaii also has a large military presence, and they have land leases and construction projects that require the State’s approval. Becoming a chair of a committee is a political process, and I could write another essay about how I was selected to chair this specific committee…

This afternoon, all the elected members of the Hawaii State House of Representatives will caucus on Zoom. We’ll go over state budget updates, general administrative and housekeeping procedures, and major bill updates. Occasionally, we will invite leaders to address us, like the Governor or the director of the Department of Health.

My day ends at home attending a Foster Live class, followed by a meeting with my terrific team. I can’t express how much I’ve enjoyed my classmates in the Hybrid program. They represent every industry and company you can imagine, and they’re just good, fun people.

My day ends at home attending a Foster Live class, followed by a meeting with my terrific team.

 

Wednesday

A crucial part of my job is resolving my constituents’ inquiries. This customer service is the bread and butter of my job. I address 800+ inquiries on topics such as filling potholes, checking on building permits, and renovating the local library. The better I do in this regard, the more confidence my voters have in me. When my voters trust me, I can take positions on controversial topics without worrying about losing my next election.

I will attend several committee hearings throughout the day. The bulk of committee hearings occur on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. An agenda of the bills to be heard will be publicly noticed at least 48 hours before a committee hearing, and on the day of the hearing, we will have individuals testify before us to present the merits of the bills. We will also ask questions of them. Afterward, we will vote on the bills.

 

Thursday

I prepare for a future campaign fundraiser by cleaning up my donor list and adding new supporters. Whether you like it or not, it takes money to run winning campaigns and stay in office.

More committee hearings are held throughout the day. I am a sitting member on three committees: 1) Water and Land, 2) Education, and 3) Technology. I might vote on bills concerning protected lands, teacher retention, and cryptocurrency regulation all in a day’s work.

I’ll participate in the Foster review sessions that evening. Afterward, I’ll do more homework for the rest of the night.

I might vote on bills concerning protected lands, teacher retention, and cryptocurrency regulation all in a day’s work.

 

Friday

I have a Zoom meeting with a constituent. He’s a teacher and talks to me about his issues with special education. Personal interaction is crucial to win over voters. Once a voter has a one-on-one experience with their elected representative, it is hard for them to vote for anyone else. I’ll be introducing a bill on his behalf to help his students.

Together with my staff, I will brainstorm bills to introduce. Some ideas I have come from my background (I was a public-school teacher previously), a proposal to fix a community issue, or from a neat podcast.  Some bills I write are aspirational and some are pragmatic. Successful bills usually have other partners (like the Teachers Union) to join in on the effort. As an elected member of the Legislature, I have the ability to create laws enforceable by the courts, as well as the ability to decide how to spend your tax dollars. It’s an awesome power, though passing a bill is no easy task.  

On Friday evenings, I break from the homework routine and will enjoy a happy hour with friends. No homework on Friday evenings is a rule of mine.

 

Saturday + Sunday

I keep Saturdays light and do activities I enjoy: cleaning the house, working out, or a family outing. My personal life takes priority over my professional responsibilities on these days.

Sunday mornings are for a longer run and meal prep for the week.

Homework assignments are due by midnight, and the latter half of the day is reserved for schoolwork. There are many weeks where, at the start, it seems like it’s impossible to accomplish everything by Sunday. But somehow it always comes together, and I survive to tackle another impossible week!