From Courtroom to C-Suite

Jul 27, 2018

John Komeiji
Credit Eugene Tanner / Pacific Business News

John Komeiji, the new president and general manager of Hawaiian Telcom, has had an unusual career. It’s one that started in the courtroom and has now ended up in the C-suite.

This month, Cincinnati Bell completed its acquisition of Hawaiian Telcom. One of its immediate changes was to promote John Komeiji to run the Hawaii company as president and general manager. It’s his second career, after spending more than 30 years as a litigator — a civil trial lawyer at Watanabe & Ing.

Komeiji was recruited into the business world by two familiar executives, Walter Dods and Eric Yeaman. Dods was chair of Hawaiian Telcom’s board in 2008, when the company was in financial trouble, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

A new management team was needed and Dods approached Komeiji to join the company as general counsel, with other duties as assigned. These duties would stretch Komeiji outside his comfort zone. Then CEO Eric Yeaman immediately assigned him to lead collective bargaining negotiations. Other experiences included heading support services: from building security to corporate communications.

All of which has been excellent training for his current role — which has shifted with the merger. His predecessor, Scott Barber, who succeeded Yeaman, had been CEO. The CEO is now Cincinnati Bell’s Leigh Fox. As president, Komeiji is expected to use the clout of being part of a bigger company to grow Hawaiian Telcom’s investments in infrastructure.