Kevin McQuillan speaks to HR expert Linda Paru who has become one of Papua New Guinea’s most successful business women.
After 22 years of climbing the corporate ladder, Linda Paru found the urge to run her own successful business. The desire was so strong, that she says she just “went for it”.
That was in 2010 when she created HR Business Solutions.
“I owned it by myself until about 18 months ago when I had to bring in business partners, mainly for expansion and to get a greater share of the market place in infrastructure and asset building,” she says.
“When I first started, I had about six employees. Our first contract was with Telikom PNG.”
Within a few months, the company had grown to 11 staff.
“From there we really grew and by 2012 we had many challenges, and I realised that as a woman owning a business, I needed to have more ammunition, more exposure, and so what I thought about was combining technology and communications – and that is how my current business partners came onto the scene.”
So she sought out business partners with expertise in communications and technology engineering. The company now has 22 staff and is located on Champion Parade.
The eldest of five siblings, Paru was born in Cape Rodney in Central Province.
Her first job in human resources was with the PNG Banking Corporation. She majored in psychology at the University of PNG, before going to Sydney University, where she graduated in 2004 with a Masters in International Business and Human Resources.
“One of the reasons I did international business was I was very enthusiastic about being a HR manager that operated across boundaries within the Asia Pacific region.
“When I was studying international business I realised Asia was the next big developing world.”
When the global food company Cargill was coming into PNG, she called the head of the recruitment agency and said she would move to provincial PNG to get the experience, even if it meant a pay cut.
“So I went firstly to Milne Bay. I became the HR manager, then the group HR manager, with the head office based in Singapore, working and travelling throughout the three plantations within PNG and Asia.
“I enjoyed it so much. I travelled to China, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and PNG – it was amazing and put me about five years ahead of PNG in the HR field.”
In early 2009, the ANZ Bank recruited her as head of its HR Division, north-west Pacific region, responsible for PNG, Solomon Islands and Timor. And 18 months later, her own company came into being. “I truly believe being resilient, determined, innovative and passionate are the keys to success, but these alone are not enough,” she says.
“You also must network and most importantly listen to your clients and provide what is required and needed at the right price; be professional and always present facts, and build relationships and encourage ideas from your team.
“I always acknowledge the team around me for my success. Without a great team I am not sure I would have achieved my goals and aspirations.”
Is it any different for women than men in order to be successful in PNG?
She says it’s all about having the right advice, access to start-up finance and being innovative and determined. She says that those ingredients will produce successful business people. “Whether it’s women, or men, doesn’t matter.”
Her clients include the Internal Revenue Commission, National Airport Corporation, Newcrest Mining Limited and NAQIA.
She’s also proud of her two boys who she raised by herself, aged 21 and 14. “They travelled with me extensively throughout Asia.”
Paru and partners’ HR Business Solutions carries out standard HR activities of recruitment, outplacement, payroll and logistics administration, training and arranging visas and work permits.
“Recruitment is only one of the many products that we have. One of our biggest services is HR & payroll audits,” she says.
We are one of the few companies, like Price Waterhouse and Deloitte, which do human resource practices and payroll audits.
“Some of the things we audit are employee communications. We ask, for example, is the employer regularly communicating with the people; how do they do their record keeping; accuracy of time keeping for payroll; the benefits and health insurance they have for their people; leave compliance; do they have job descriptions and are they set down correctly in line with labour laws; how are they hiring; turnover, disciplinary procedures, internships. What is their performance management process?”
Meanwhile, Paru is working with a gender expert on a joint ABD-DFAT project proposal that aims to provide mentoring for about 40 women, working closely with the Business Coalition for Women.
Paru is also involved with the PNG APEC Secretariat as the executive director for PNG Focus on APEC Women’s Economic Empowerment, representing private sector women entrepreneurs.