President and CEO Connie Lau ringing the opening bell at the New York stock exchange last August, celebrating Hawaiian Electric Industry's focus on renewable energy.

It was the 1970 Punahou graduate's father that urged her to be a lawyer and go to business school, she did.

Lau broke barriers from the beginning as part of only the second class of women at Yale.

"The then president had to promise the alumni that he would continue to graduate 1,000 male leaders a year. So there were a 1,000 male leaders and 125 of us," Lau said.

Lau would get her degrees, then practice corporate law.

She then married Russell Lau, another 1970 Punahou graduate. They eventually returned home. 

In 1984, she went to work at Hawaiian Electric, as an assistant corporation counselor.

"My first thought when deciding to join Hawaiian Electric was my father would be rolling over in his grave," Lau said. 

Her father didn't think a female or a person of color would make it through the corporate ranks in Honolulu.

"Indeed when I joined there was only one woman who was in the manager level, and only one Asian vice president. It was very different," Lau said. 

In 2006, Lau was named President and CEO, and now in 2019 40% of the Hawaiian Electric executives are women.

Among her many accomplishments, helping to transform HEI subisidiary American Savings bank from a small thrift to a full service community bank.

And then she was asked to be part of the team to step up at Kamehameha Schools during the time of the broken trust. 

"I ended up spending 8 years there although Colbert Matsumoto who recruited me to be a special purpose trustee told me it would be a 10-month assignment," Lau recalls.

They transformed Kamehameha Schools  into a CEO-based management system like a corporation.

Her most striking memory:

"Probably the march through Waikiki 20,000 strong and we on the courthouse steps over the preference policy," Lau said. 

The busy executive had a family life too, she's one half of a power couple. 

Her husband, Russell Lau is President, Chair and CEO of Finance Factors. Together they have raised a daughter and two sons.

"I worried a lot and I went through all the guilt that many women do who have to work and raise families at the same time," Lau said. 

This year marks 35 years with Hawaiian Electric Industries and her tips for success are: education and hard work.

"You've got to be willing to work hard. It doesn't matter how smart you are or how capable you are if you aren't willing to work hard it's not going to happen," Lau said.

Hard work, dedication  for family and community and a desire to make a difference.

Connie Lau, one of Hawaii's Remarkable Women.