Jay Ana: ‘What will not change is YB’s commitment to this marketplace and the island communities.’
Throughout his career, Jay Ana has stayed true to the values instilled in him by his parents.
“My parents made sacrifices and worked extremely hard to ensure I’d have the opportunity to do and accomplish things they weren’t able to,” he explained. “While they worked hard to provide for the family financially, they worked equally hard to ensure my sisters and I had a set of fundamental core values: respect – of oneself and others, communicate openly and honestly with others; honesty – be truthful, show integrity and ethics in all that you do; commitment – finish what you start and always be and do your best; and trust – have trust and faith in yourself, others, and in God.”
Ana accepted the role of President of Young Brothers (YB) effective January 6, 2020, replacing interim President Paul Stevens, who transitioned to the role of Director on the YB Board. Ana returned to YB, where he spent four years as Director of Accounting & Finance, after spending 18 months as the CFO of Advantage Webco Hawaii. As he rounds the corner on his first year as president, his focus remains as sharp as on his first day.
“I was drawn back to working at Young Brothers because of three things,” he said. “First, the importance of our purpose and mission. At Young Brothers, what we do affects nearly every business, every person, every day, making our services vital to the economic success and survival of our island communities. Second, our amazing people. I’m so proud to work with and lead such a dedicated and highly-skilled group of individuals who are committed to serving our island communities. And finally, the need to bring Young Brothers back to health. We are at a critical juncture in our rich, deep-rooted 120-year history and I believe that I continue to have the right experience and skillset to lead the company back to financial health and advance our services to ensure the Young Brothers continues to provide the Islands with reliable, dedicated inter-island cargo services for generations to come.”
‘A traditional Filipino household’
Ana was born and raised in Hawaii; he grew up in Mililani Town in central Oahu. The eldest of three children, his parents immigrated from the Philippines not long before he was born.
“My father was a supply officer in the Navy, working primarily on submarines,” said Ana. “After retiring, he took a similar job as a civil servant. When we were young, my mom worked as a nurse, but with my father frequently out to sea, she eventually transitioned from nursing to working in education so that her schedule was better aligned to support the household.”
Ana said all of his childhood memories center on family.
“My siblings and I were raised in a traditional Filipino household – family was everything and we all had roles and responsibilities to support the home and family,” he explained. “Each weekend we gathered as an extended family with many uncles, aunts, and cousins. As I said, my parents worked extremely hard to provide for the family and ensure a more promising future. Even in periods when my father wasn’t assigned to sea duty, he carried a second job as a cook. It kept him busy: he was usually gone before we all got up and didn’t return home until after we were all asleep. My parents’ self-sacrifice and work ethic are values I carry with me today and have been a critical ingredient to my approach to work and life – to improve upon the opportunities granted to me and setting my children up for an even better future.”
As a child, Ana dreamed of joining the military. His first job was on Schofield Army Base at the commissary bagging groceries “for tips only,” he laughed. He graduated from Mililani High School and was at a crossroads.
“While in high school, I joined the school’s business program, which at the time included typing, computer, and accounting classes,” he said. “While I had no real concept of what career opportunities were available, the coursework in high school is what triggered me to pursue an accounting degree.”
But Ana also joined the Army Reserves. Shortly after graduation, he was sent to basic training and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Knox in Kentucky and Fort Ben Harrison in Indiana, respectively. Upon returning to Hawaii, he enrolled at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, graduating in 1998 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration majoring in Accounting and Management Information Systems.
‘One YB Ohana’
Ana joined KPMG LLP in 1999, his first out of college. He spent a total of 12 years with the firm, leaving as a Senior Manager in the Audit Practice. In addition to managing a client workload, he was also the primary recruiter for the Honolulu office.
“When I started my career in accounting I had no idea where it would lead me,” he said. “In the early part of my career I was focused on building a technical skillset, but what has been most pleasantly surprising is that my career progression into leadership roles is attributable to the values and experiences that my parents taught me early on as a child.”
After KPMG, Ana served in traditional accounting roles for Securitas Security Services, Advantage Webco Hawaii, and Young Brothers.
“What’s most enjoyable about my job is the opportunity to work with and serve our amazing group of highly-skilled employees,” he said. “While we experienced a season of financial instability, I’m confident that as one YB Ohana, we’ll continue to overcome the challenges that lie ahead.”
Having worked previously in traditional accounting and finance roles, Ana said his greatest challenge has been acclimating to the other facets of the business.
“As the leader of Young Brothers, a regulated entity, I’m much more involved with community, legislative, regulatory, and media-related activities. While I had some familiarity with each of these, I’m still getting used to being front-and-center.”
Ana said the accountant in him allows him to keep to his day structured so he can manage his ever-changing workload.
“On weekdays, I get up around 5 a.m. and start by going through emails,” he said. “Several days per week, I work out at 6 a.m. for an hour and then head into the office. From there, every day is different, but that (in addition to the people) is what makes working at YB so appealing. Even in my prior role as the Director of Finance & Accounting, there wasn’t a ‘typical’ workday, which keeps everything interesting.”
Culture of change
Ana said the only thing he would change about his past is the duration of his military service.
“I joined the Army Reserves after high school and I continued to serve in the enlisted ranks while pursuing my college degree,” he said. “But once I fulfilled my initial service contract, I didn’t re-enlist. If I had to do it all over again, I would have reenlisted and joined ROTC or went through Officer Candidate School.”
He said he’s most proud of his core values and family.
“I have an amazingly supportive wife and three young, beautiful, and curious children. Just as my parents did for me and my two sisters, my family drives me to be the best version of myself and to improve every single day.”
When he left YB in 2018, Ana said it was bittersweet.
“I was excited at the prospect of pursuing an opportunity to advance my career, but was sad to be leaving a place and people I considered my family,” he said.
After a year back with the company, he said much has changed – but a few things never will.
“What will not change is YB’s commitment to this marketplace and the island communities,” he said. “We’ve invested heavily into four new Kāpena-class tugs and additional shoreside equipment to ensure that we provide the frequent and reliable service for generations to come. Over the next several years we want to cultivate a culture that’s open to, and willing to, change. Change for the better to be able to innovate and modernize the business so we can meet the ever-changing needs of our customers. In doing so, we need to work more closely with all stakeholders – employees, customers, our regulator, and other government agencies to develop solutions to improve operating efficiencies and service delivery.
“I’m committed to YB and want nothing more than to finish my career leading this great organization of people through an evolution to better serves customers today and into the future.”