Following a growing trend among larger mainland corporations, Hawaiian Airlines has created a new position called “director of continuous improvement.”

The new hire, Timothy Watkins, most recently worked as a management consultant in the Seattle area and held previous positions at Washington Mutual and General Electric.

“Our day-to-day operations have become more complex, and in this newly created position Tim will lead our effort to enhance operational efficiency and productivity,” said Alison Croyle, Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman.

Watkins will report to Alanna James, senior director of strategy and transformation for Hawaiian Airlines.

A growing number of larger mainland corporations have added executives in charge of “continuous improvement” in recent years, said Liesl Bernard, Honolulu branch manager for Robert Half International, a staffing firm that specializes in professional services.

“It’s very common to see this role in larger mainland companies, especially in highly competitive industries like airlines,” Bernard said. “They typically have a very independent role in a company and look at things objectively — they’re able to see the trees through the forest.”

The job is similar to one that some companies call “director of innovation,” Bernard said.

“The person in these jobs typically has very strong project-management skills. It’s their job to be in the forefront of innovation. It’s a very forward-looking role. They have to be up on the latest trends in technology,” Bernard said.

(c)2013 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Distributed by MCT Information Services.