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Derek Whetten


Derek Whetten

Adjunct Instructor


Professional Background​

I am an entrepreneur at heart having started two businesses that I successfully operated for over a decade. I have spent much of my career in start-up companies wearing multiple hats while solving problems in fast-paced, pressure-filled environments. I love the creative problem-solving that is required to meet the dynamic challenges and opportunities as an entrepreneur.


I’m comfortable in water over my head. It’s not that I am a thrill seeker; I’m really not much at all. It’s that I don’t get overwhelmed or intimidated by situations that are bigger than my experience. I seek out opportunities that stretch me and then I quickly qualify myself up for the situation. I read everything, talk with mentors, and do everything I need to do so I can be the most prepared person in the room. The “fake it ’til you make it” concept only buys you about 7 seconds to measure up and make it.

I have wide-ranging experience in management and executive roles with strategic planning, finance & accounting, project management, sales & marketing, operations, and real estate.

  • As CFO, I fixed the financial situation of a company deep in debt to the IRS and vendors by correcting two years of bad accounting, negotiating settlements, and installing financial discipline.
  • At another company, I developed a critical manufacturing operation, created the operating processes, trained the staff, and managed the ongoing operations.
  • In a professional services business, I created and executed successful customer-facing digital, direct mail, door-to-door, and social media marketing programs.
  • I organized & executed large events and small private dinners for the Washington, D.C. diplomatic community and supported nationwide public relations campaigns.
  • I trained adults and teens on how to exemplify superior customer service skills.
  • I teach entrepreneurship, accounting, finance, marketing, production, and ethics in a university setting.
  • I brokered hundreds of residential & commercial real estate deals while also managing & training other Realtors and helping put out fires.

I was raised in Laie and, in so many ways, it defines who I am and what I value.  After gaining rich education and experience on the mainland, I’m thrilled to be back home raising my children and giving back to the community and university.  My incredible wife, Carla, and I have four very energetic boys and an always excited girl who keep life busy and fun.  I thrive when I am learning and using my knowledge and experience to better others’ lives.  I love finding innovative solutions that create new opportunities and value.  I always strive to leave a situation better than I found it. 


Favorite Quote

"Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry."
bill drayton
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