“The Best Man for the Job”- a woman’s perspective

Date: Tuesday 17th March, 2020

By Alicia Sahib

'As a woman, coming from a predominantly male dominated industry of construction and transitioning into the banking sector made sense, when having a family became priority.'

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These were the words of BSP Head of Support Services Alicia Sahib when encouraging women to be part of the corporate world despite odds.

Becoming aware of my gender and biases that come with it only became known when joining the corporate world as I was oblivious to it when walking around in hardhats and safety boots at construction sites or in project meetings with the 'construction guys'. These two industries are world apart and we generally falsely assume that gender bias would be in industries we perceive as masculine'.

This is a shared experience amongst three women who have construction background and who have transitioned to the banking world after starting their new families. We accepted that it was time for 'tools down'. But this is not entirely true because despite walking around in our high heels, make up and corporate uniform, we are still visiting construction sites, working alongside peers from the construction industry, such as engineers, geotechs, architects, electricians, air conditioning technicians, surveyors and others. So in fairness, we have the best of both worlds.

We are part of the management team of Support Services in BSP PNG. Our Business Unit manage construction projects from design to completion, properties, fleet, mail room, logistics, building services and archiving for the bank amongst other things.

This team used to be predominately male almost nine years ago. It has taken us sometime to realise and see this as an achievement because on a personal level we always advocate for the best person for the job but in light of the International Women's Day celebrations, this year we are looking at things differently. When selecting individuals to join our management team, we have stuck to our core belief that talented individuals with the right attitude would be the best fit for the team and from a good base we can build anything.

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BSP Support Service Business unit Team (Standing from Left to right) - Sylvia Enage, Alicia Sahib, Casper Wotomu, Talitha Sengero and Melissa Robert (Seated from Left to right) - Elemine Wabiyaui, Cynthia Ame and Killie Sapu.

Only a few of us have any form of degree and diploma, our average age is 38, all except one are parents and between us all we have 97 years of experience in BSP. Three of us, all women, are from the construction field who transitioned to banking. We tend to 'baby the boys' and are known for our tough yet nurturing leadership style.

So while the common saying of 'the best man for the job' is still used by most, we say with tongue-in-check that 'the best man for the job is a woman'. This does not go without acknowledging the great men whose shoulder we have stood on and who have believed in us to help us progress in our lives from obtaining an education to being able to provide for our families.