Dean Kato's job as director of sales for Esterline Control Systems keeps him traveling around the world, from Japan one month to Brazil the next. But Kato finds time to support SPU in multiple ways: as a mentor, a member of the SPU Engineering Department's advisory board, a member of Parent Council, an employer, and a member of the President's Circle. In the Loop caught up with Kato to learn why he gives so much to Seattle Pacific University.
In the Loop: Why are you so committed to SPU and to bringing interns into your business?
Dean Kato: To be honest, my commitment as an employer is not to SPU, but to hiring the best people for Esterline. We have had tremendous success year over year hiring interns from SPU as well as direct hires. The caliber of people and the skillsets that they come with are tremendous. The SPU program has more rigor and it shows in the students we hire. SPU students move to the top of the interview list with our hiring managers because they have proven to be exceptional candidates.
IL: As a father of SPU students, how do you feel about the education your students are getting?
D.K.: I've known many SPU students over the years, and the education that they get is stellar. In addition, I've had the fortune of knowing many of the faculty over the years, and the experience that they create for and investments that they make in the students are very unique.
I went to the University of Washington many years ago, and the academic instruction was excellent, but the richness of close personal interaction between students and faculty did not compare with what's practiced at SPU. I know that our students are really being invested in. I was never invited to meet off campus with faculty, to have them take a very personal interest in me. At SPU, it's important to deal with the whole person: the spiritual, intellectual, emotional facets of the student.
IL: What's your philosophy on giving?
D.K.: I believe in tithing at church. I believe that we are to give generously if we are able. We are blessed to be able to invest in SPU scholarship funds, through the President's Circle.
IL: Out of all the places to give your money and your time, why SPU?
D.K.: Idealistically, I believe we are losing ground in the U.S. to other countries who are investing more in the education of their future workforce. I believe that SPU is successful in creating not only stellar future employees, but, more importantly, people who holistically can have a positive impact on their community. I enjoy being able to play a small part in that.
We are called to be servants and we can do that in many ways; I've been a member of the Engineering advisory board for 15 years and have mentored students through [Professor of Engineering] Elaine Scott's mentor program. It's an investment in our future to give to students.