Henry M. Kaiser - About Henry

Henry Kaiser

Henry M. Kaiser at a Glance

Why I’ve Become Who I Am

I have led a professional life marked by seizing opportunity and facing adversity. By necessity and training, I have incorporated Transformational Learning into whatever situation life brings. Llife comes at us in waves, and you have to ridethe easy and hard ones and survive the hard ones. .After earning my MBA at Stanford, and my service in the U.S. Navy as a Supply Officer, I began my career in Kaiser Industries, a Fortune 500 Company. Two years after Kaiser Industries entered voluntary liquidation in the mid 1970’s I began a new career as an entrepreneur in various roles: as investor, portfolio manager, CEO of a small manufacturing company that I purchased with partners in a leveraged buyout I organized, liquidator of a real estate development company, Court appointed Director of a manufacturing company, co-founder of and equity fundraiser for a financial services company, and as principle in institutionally backed venture capital firms. These projects and roles required continuous learning, innovation and vision, humility where I succeeded, and courage and resilience in the face of disappointments. By age 65, I had earned a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and found my way into non-profit work with Social Enterprise organizations, I currently serve as a Quality Assurance Manager at a non-profit that trains and places persons with disabilities in jobs. These experiences have taught me the value of resilience, consistency, and perseverance. As Allen Saunders, and later John Lennon, said, Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.

The Benefits I Bring From This Experience

People and organizations can rely on me, in a mature way, to envision, create, and implement solutions. I take responsibility for getting the job done. I accept responsibility and accountability in very diverse professional environments, often in fields that are new to me. While not a technologist per se, I have been effective in both high and low technology situations, in management and governance roles, in very large and very small for-profit and non-profit organizations engaged in domestic and international activity. I have learned to respect, but not fear, change and challenges. My skills include fund raising, board strengthening, strategic and business plan development, project management, and other high-level business activity. I write well and have had much experience in public speaking. While I greatly value my corporate business experience, my 30 years of service on the Board of Kaiser Foundation Hospitals & Health Plan, and 20 years as a Trustee of the Kaiser Family Foundation, my entrepreneurial and recent non-profit work reflect the professional environment where I can make the greatest contribution. I love it all.


In this work I engage with families of wealth and legacy anticipating, experiencing, or recovering from inter-generational transition. As a Certificate holder in the Family Firm Institute (www.ffi.org), I emphasize the family aspects, but with an appreciation of the business issues, familes face during intergenerational transitions where a family owned or influenced business is involved. I come from such a family and I know the issues individual families face - I've been there and done that. There are big issues to address, but, as FDR said, "The only thing to fear is fear itself," and, I might add, the possible consequences of not taking preventive action to address the typical stress triggers well before actual decision and generational transition plans are put in place.

Creative Capacities

In personal life, I serve on Community Boards, such as The Berkeley Repertory Theater in the late 70's and early 80's, the Flowers Heritage Foundation early in the 21st century, or, currently, a social enterprise organization, Community Vocational Enterprises and the leader of the committee that is organizing the formation of the northern California chapter of the Family Firm Institute. I write music and lyrics, play guitar and mandolin, and produce shows for private audiences.

My first book, Inheritance Lost, Heritage Transformed, is now in the editing process. Its message is concerned with the value proposition of my work with Inheriting Wisdom, but also reflects upon the strategic business issues faced by Kaiser Industries after the passing of the founder, Henry J, Kaiser. The story of the interaction of family and business issues that led a Fortune 500 company to elect to adopt a program of voluntary liquidation is a story relevant strategically to business professionals, owners, managers, and in many cases, the current generations of families connected to ownership driven stewardship of such businesses. The personal and business issues press upon each other. I have lived through this, and share my perspective. I have also written a play (a Macedonian tragedy about Alexander the Great's top general, Parmenio) and a novel of fiction with the working title "Antipode"

I volunteer for Bread & Roses, a group that brings live performances to shelters, hospitals, psych wards, and other facilities.

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