By STANLEY MARK and ANDREW PATTERSON
Ipak Giru is the first local woman to hold the position as a center manager in the history of PNG Power Ltd.
She looks after operations at Yonki township, which is the core of the Ramu Grid.
Ipak started her career with Elcom (PNG Electricity Commission), now PNG Power, in November 1993 as a clerk typist.
“My educational qualification did not bring me this far but it was perseverance and hard work. I see every challenge as a stepping stone to success and I thank PNG Power for supporting women fairly,” she says.
Ipak is from Manus and she grew up in Goroka. After graduating from Goroka Technical College in 1992, she worked as a receptionist with an accounting firm, and later for Goroka Secondary School.
She met her partner who was an Elcom employee, and moved to Yonki with him.
In November 1993, she began her career pathway as a clerk typist for the community relations group. She held on to that position for 10 years“without raising any complaints”.
“I loved doing what I was told to, and always accomplished my tasks at the end of each day,” she says.
As time passed, Ipak was given responsibilities toassist with administrativeduties and property managementatYonki.
In 2003, when the Yonkiadministration officer left, Ipak took over the responsibility of looking after the township, properties, accommodation and the cleanliness of Yonkitown until 2014.
“My biggest challenge was to raise five children without our father,” she says.
Their father was transferred to Rabaul in 2008 and “never returned to Yonki”.
“Raising children without their father is difficult especially when you have children going to tertiary institutions. You have to be a strong woman to meet the challenges of paying school fees and their daily needs. It was difficult but with the strength of God, I managed to get through. It also encouraged me to persevere in my employment.
“I remember one day, I took my daughter to University of Goroka and my son was to enroll at Mt Hagen Technical College. With limited school fees, I had to withdraw my son and allow my daughter to continue. I was so discouraged that I wanted to give up on life. I met a woman on the bus while travelling back to Yonki. She told me of her struggles and successes, without realising that I needed such words. I went on to build a poultry house and raised chicken and earned money to pay my children’s school fees,” she recalls.
In April 2014, her superiors promoted her to become the facilities team coordinator.
The following year whenPulmanTirang (former manager) retired, Ipak was appointed to act in the position of center manager, Yonki.
In September 2016, after acting on the position for a year, she wasappointed as the centermanager, Yonki.
“My journey was not as easy as it seems. I encounteredmanychallenges along the way. Yet that did not stop me from performing my daily assignments and tasks. Every new position had its own challenges but I maintained my integrity and performed to the best of my abilities,” she recalls.
Ipak says she understands the difficulties and challenges faced by women in the workforce today, and she wants to be a good role model to young women who are working as receptionists, clerks, admin officers in industries dominated by men.
“I believe I am one of the local women taking the lead for women in PNG especially within PNG Power. My encouragement to young girls is not to look down or think less of yourselves and your jobs. If I can make it happen, you can too,” she says.
“My greatest work challenge was handling landowner issues at Yonki. Some landowners didn’t listen to me probably because I was a woman,” she says.
Even when her team was attacked several times, she did not let this challenge drag her down.
“I now receive the respect from the people of Yonkiand my employees. And I want to thank my good brothers PulmanTirang, Peter Joseph and the staff based at Yonki and Ramu 1 for the guidance and support all throughout these years,” she says.
As the center manager, she looks after plant and fleet, building and maintenance, health facilities, customer services, administration and thedistribution team.
“I am happy that we have Carolyn Blacklock and she must be an inspiration for every woman at PNG Power and around the country,” Ipak says.
“Today, my children are all grown up. My first born daughter is now a secondary school teacher in Manus, my second born son is employed as a safety officer based in Port Moresby, and my two adopted children are also employed outside Yonki.
“I still have my disable son with me and I can always go home at the end of the day to find there is someone at home to welcome me with a smile.
“Sometimes people tend to give up easily because they see there is no pathway for them in their employment. It takes time, it takes hard work and it takes perseverance to make it to the top. Nothing comes easy, you cannot be given things on a golden plate, you have to work hard to get it,” she says.
- PNG Power Ltd public relations.