“Why would I move 5,000 miles away from New York to an island in the Pacific?” asks Robert Walker, Program Director of the `Ekahi Ornish Lifestyle Medicine program. “The answer is simple: I was looking for a supportive and dynamic work environment that would recognize, accelerate, and utilize my strengths and skills to thrive. And not just for the sake of my own success, but for the overall success of the company as well.”
“I have had more innovative freedom and support here than anywhere I’ve worked before.”
– Robert Walker
FINDING A NEW PASSION & A NEW HOME IN HAWAII
Robert is originally from New York where he received his bachelor’s degree in biochemistry before attending graduate school at NYU where he received his master’s in biochemistry. He began his career as a biochemist, then later moved into pharmaceutical sales, working for Block Drug in Manhattan and then Pfizer in Queens, where his interest in business was sparked (which eventually brought him back to NYU to obtain his second master’s, an MBA in corporate finance and strategy). He joined UMT Consulting Group, where he worked in business development and marketing, and later joined Physicians’ Education Resource as marketing director.
After several years of focusing on business, Robert discovered an incredible opportunity to bring together the various pathways of his expertise into one. This path also led him to his new home in Hawaii.
“Robert was looking for somewhere innovative in the health care industry,” explains Dean Hirata, CEO of `Ekahi Health, the company that first brought the Ornish program to the islands. “Thankfully he found us through our parent company, `ike, on LinkedIn and Indeed.com.”
`ike is a Hawaii-based family of companies (including DataHouse, TeamPraxis, `Ekahi Health, and Sagely) that share technology, leadership methodology, and a common set of core values.
“I watched some of the videos and read the family of company’s core values on the ‘ike site,” Robert recalls. “I remember their core value of Dream Releasing catching my attention. I thought it was so cool how they believe in identifying and amplifying their people’s strengths to benefit the company they are working for as well as helping them excel personally. This was exactly what I was looking for!”
COURAGE FOR THE NEXT LEVEL
When asked which of `ike’s core values he identifies with the most, Robert responds without hesitation.
“Courage, for sure. It took so much courage to take that leap of faith to move myself and my family 5,000 miles away from home and all we were familiar with, believing that ‘ike and ‘Ekahi Health would be the right fit for me and my family. What a huge risk! But I can say without a doubt it has turned out wonderfully.”
Robert began as the `Ekahi Ornish Marketing Manager and, within seven months, was offered the position of Program Director. “It was perfectly aligned with my skill set, but again, it took a ton of courage to not second guess myself and cut myself short,” Robert recalls. “I knew I needed to keep trying new things, keep driving ahead, and be open to new opportunities—having the courage to try new things in completely new ways so I wouldn’t stagnate in my career…or in my heart!”
PERSONAL GROWTH. GREATER GOOD.
“One of `ike’s core values that I participate in every single day at `Ekahi Ornish is the Greater Good,” explains Robert. “Although we are a business, our business is about empowering people to live happier, healthier lives. And our team is extraordinarily passionate about that mission, which fuels the greater good of our community.”
“Robert is one of the best examples of what we are trying to accomplish within the `ike family of companies,” explains Dean Hirata. “Finding the best and brightest in Hawaii and the across the nation who are not just capable, intelligent, and have vision for innovation, but those whose hearts are aligned with the Greater Good reality of what they are putting their hands to. And this can only happen when you find a person with passion who is driven by purpose.”
“I love helping people in new ways in healthcare,” explains Robert. “And that’s what we’re doing at `Ekahi Health. It’s not typical care; it’s innovative and empowering healthcare where we enable people to help themselves live a happier, healthier life. It’s exciting to know we can lead as an example and inspire others in Hawaii and across the nation. It truly is a dream come true to make a huge difference in the community while using my talents, stretching my abilities, and living my passion.”