NYWICI Heritage Project: Patrice Tanaka

Education: BA, journalism, University of Hawaii

Career: Serial entrepreneur who has co-founded three award-winning PR and marketing agencies. The last one, PadillaCRT, is the largest, employee-owned PR agency in the U.S. with 200 employee-owners.

Current: Chief “Joy” Officer at Joyful Planet, a business and life strategy consultancy she founded in 2015

NYWICI Involvement: President 2002-2003


Patrice TanakaNYWICI: What is the most important attribute of a leader?
Patrice Tanaka: Someone who is willing to take responsibility for driving the success of an endeavor in collaboration with others.

What change in the role of women in the workplace was the most significant for you?
In the nearly four decades I have been in the work world, it has become a more widely accepted, if not embraced, belief that women should be represented in greater numbers at every leadership table. This diversity contributes to a higher-performing workforce that makes better decisions.

Relate an obstacle you overcame early in your career?
The only reason I co-founded the first of three PR & marketing agencies was that it was the only solution to avoid having to terminate four talented colleagues when our biggest client was leaving. I believe in the saying that "where there's a will, there's a way." We are only limited by what we can imagine and envision and what we are willing to do to achieve our goals.

Relate a story about how you were treated as a working woman.
I can't think of one particular story. It was more the all-pervasive, widely-accepted and understood-by-all belief that men were in charge at work. This always made me feel very uneasy at work and it is why I've spent most of my career as the CEO or working for other women leaders or men who were more enlightened in this regard.

Is the term feminism still relevant?
Yes. Although we've made strides in recent decades in equal treatment with men, civil rights and pay equity, we still have much more progress to make. Until women are represented proportionally to men at every leadership table, feminism will still be relevant.

What change in the communications business most impacted your career?
In the past decade, the rise of social media has probably had the biggest impact on communications with its power to quickly galvanize people local and globally.

What would you like to share about your time as president?
I added "coaching" as one of the benefits of membership after surveying members and determining that it ranked #1 as a new benefit they found appealing. I am excited to be one of the many great coaches in this NYWICI program to help members live their life's purpose and unleash their joy.