Landon Debunks Stereotype of the One-Dimensional Banker

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Al Landon most certainly does not think about banking 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To pursue his wide-ranging interests, Landon finds himself traveling to points all across the Western Hemisphere.

The former Bank of Hawaii CEO has one career track as a director of two of the nation's preeminent nonprofit educational institutions. Sometimes, Landon is in Washington, D.C., hashing out details on a fundraising project for the Public Broadcasting Service. Other times, Landon might attend a Smithsonian Institution board meeting in the Central American country of Panama, at the institution's Tropical Research Institute.

He is also a teacher. He splits his time as an educator between Honolulu, at the University of Hawaii's law school, and Salt Lake City, at the University of Utah.

Between gigs Landon can be found skiing the slopes in Park City, Utah, or running in the New York Marathon or the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington.

And he still keeps a hand in banking. When he's not in Portland, Ore., huddling with partners in Community BanCapital, a newly formed firm that invests debt in community banks, Landon is in Oklahoma City, attending a board meeting for $9.8 billion-asset MidFirst Bank.

"You couldn't design a life this way," Landon says. "But it's nice when it works out like this."

Landon was destined to be a nomad it seems. He was born in the Midwest, but has moved frequently, living in Iowa, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and other states.

He found Hawaii the most difficult to leave behind. From 2000 to 2010, he worked for the Bank of Hawaii, six of those years as its chairman, president and chief executive. Landon was heavily involved in the community while leading Bank of Hawaii, serving as chairman of the University of Hawaii, and of Hawaii's Blue Cross/Blue Shield affiliate. He continues to make annual pilgrimages to Hawaii to teach business to law students.

The Smithsonian and PBS may seem like departures for Landon because they are nonprofits, but he says his training as an accountant and experience as a banker help him contribute to their missions.

"While they're different from banking, they still focus on the fundamentals of creating value and adding to the overall experience of people's lives," Landon says. "My role is that I came from a company that had a good sense of operational discipline. It's a simple thing, but I think that's part of the reason why I'm able to be of value."

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