Fighter pilot shares flight plan to business success

April 20, 2012

A Life on the Leading Edge

Gayle Gardner, center, is lauded by HPU Associate Professor Ken Schoolland, director of the Entrepreneurship Center, and College of Business Administration Dean Deborah Crown following his presentation on entrepreneurship.

HONOLULU — Hawai‘i Pacific University welcomed Gayle Gardner, president of the U.S. War Veterans Foundation, for an inspirational presentation on tenacity in the military and private sector April 18.

The retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel spoke at the Pacific Club, as part of the Pappas Entrepreneurial Leadership Series. “A Life on the Leading Edge” was presented by the College of Business Administration, with participation from HPU’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE).

At 16, Gardner convinced a former World War II pilot to give him flying lessons after years of asking. He later joined the Air Force, working his way up as a commissioned officer. It took him only three years from being in a fighter squadron to being assigned to Headquarters United States Air Force.

His tenacity helped him as he pursued a career in free enterprise during times with increasing government regulations. Successes include co-founding a no-load mutual fund in the U.S. He also co-founded a cargo airline.

Gardner said a key to success is being able to “think outside the box. Challenge yourself. If you have a product, make it absolutely as good as possible,” Gardner said.

College of Business Administration Dean Deborah Crown, Ph.D., said she appreciated hearing Gardner’s experiences, noting how “even in challenging times, he took initiative.”

MBA student and SIFE member Pitchanun Wittayanont said she had a positive experience listening to Gardner speak. “He’s successful and he’s down to earth and approachable.”

Wittayanont said the Pappas events are excellent opportunities to learn from business veterans, especially for aspiring entrepreneurs such as her.

“The most valuable thing about this lecture series is we learn from the real experts,” she said.

A Life on the Leading Edge

HPU students listen as Gayle Gardner, president of the U.S. War Veterans Foundation, talks about his
career in the military and private sector.