By GLORIA BAUAI
WITH a diploma in mechanical engineering and a diploma in electrical engineering in his resume, Jonah Seleng Soma applied for a job as a plant operator.
Looking at his qualifications, the bossmen at Orica PNG, a company renowned internationally as an explosives supplier, wanted him to try something higher up – a
Hypercharge Drive (HCD) technician, a position usually occupied by expats. Jonah was offered the job.
“I was shocked because I didn’t have experience. But I didn’t panic because I knew God has blessed me with this job. So I accepted.”
Today, Jonah, 30, is the only local man qualified to be a HCD technician.
His parents are from Oro and Morobe. He is the middle child in the family of three, and a Seventh-day Adventist church member.
He attended Igora Primary School in Oro then Busu Secondary School in Lae, completing Grade 12 in 2013.
In 2014 during the PNG Games, he was among the contestants in martial arts.
In 2015, he went to Australia to pursue electro-technology studies at the North Queensland Technical and Further Education (TAFE).
When he returned to PNG, Jonah enrolled for a Diploma in Electrical Engineering programme at Polytech in Lae. He graduated as the class dux in 2017.
“ I was shocked because I didn’t have such experience. But I didn’t panic because I knew God has blessed me with this job. So I accepted.”
He worked for one year to gain experience before returning to Polytech in 2019 to pursue a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering course. He graduated last month and was also the class dux.
Jonah applied for the position of plant operator at Orica while he was still at Polytech and was called in for an interview.
“The online interview panel had the Orica team from Australia tuning in as well. My current boss Denis said I was overqualified to be a plant operator, and that they would interview me for a different position.”
It was the HCD position, always held by an expatriate who has 15 to 20-year experience in the engineering field.
Today, Jonah is the only engineer at Orica’s noise plant based at 11-Mile outside Lae.
He is the first national to be a HCD technician since Orica was established in PNG.
He provides support and repair service to Orica customers who have HCD on their sites. The machine turns Orica- manufactured bulk emulsions (blasting agents) into explosives.
Denis Brassard, the Orica territory manager for PNG and the Pacific Islands, explains that when the position used to be occupied by an expatriate, it would take about a week to respond to customers’ needs.
“That is unacceptable because our customers cannot wait for a week. Having him (Jonah) is extremely beneficial for us and the customers because it saves Orica the plane trip cost back and forth and has decreased the reaction time for our customers.”
Brassard plans to send Jonah to Australia to undergo intensive training on HCD. He will return to PNG to oversee technical operations in Orica’s PNG market.
“We are extremely confident that he will be up to the challenge because so far, he has been above expectation in every challenge.”
A truly explosive start to the Oro-Morobe man’s career.