Seven management tips for operating a construction business in Papua New Guinea


Managing Director of manufacturing and construction company Rhodes, Emanuel Papas, tells Business Advantage PNG that operating a business in Papua New Guinea requires a distinct set of managerial skills. He lists seven things his business has done to ensure success.

Rhodes fabrication facility. Source: Rhodes

Rhodes is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, and operates out of Porebada, near Port Moresby. It has an annual turnover of approximately K20 million. According to Papas, there are seven things the business has to focus on to operate in PNG.

1. Be at the coal face

Papas says that company directors are directly involved in project delivery.

‘We focus on empowering local staff, sub-contractors and other companies in order to foster wider growth in project volumes and local delivery.’

2. Keep the cost of operations down

Rhodes uses a lean management structure to support its delivery of projects, according to Papas.

He says the company is continually investing in innovative building systems and vertical integration to strengthen its position in the market.

3. Be nimble

Rhodes uses a pre-fabrication technique, meaning that a significant proportion of construction occurs offsite and in a controlled environment.

Story continues after advertisment...

Papas says this allows the company to be nimble and respond quickly to market demands and budgets.

Offsite construction, he says, minimises wastage and limits delays due to weather and logistics.

4. Establish partnerships

The company is currently exploring private-public partnerships and in-house development opportunities to achieve reduced costs through volume delivery and larger in-country training programs.

‘We will continue to work with partners to supply and deliver critical infrastructure and build capacity in local communities.’

5. Have good relationships with NGOs and government

Rhodes’ Emanuel Papas. Source: Rhodes

An important management imperative for Rhodes is developing relationships with aid organisations and governments.

Rhodes has had projects with the Asian Development Bank, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Papua New Guinean Government.

It currently has most of a K37 million contract with the PNG Government and the European Union, to deliver infrastructure for seven vocational technical schools.

6. Take a wider view of the economy

To maintain the relationship with aid organisations and the government the company has to become an advocate for capacity building in PNG.

It is also necessary to ensure that it has a reputation for being a responsible company that is interested in employing and training locals.

‘Grants, and partnerships similar to it, are vital to the success of Papua New Guinea,’ says Papas.

7. Support local communities

He claims the company’s pre-fabrication approach supports local communities by directly involving local people and business in the design and build process.

‘These projects give us an opportunity to hire a relatively unskilled workforce, and then work to develop the workforce’s skills and knowledge, which provides long-term benefits for the broader community.’

Papas says it also provides an opportunity for local businesses to engage in individual areas of the overall project.

‘It’s critical the government and organisations develop local capacity, because this will reduce the cost of delivering infrastructure and services for communities in Papua New Guinea in the future.’

Papas says gender equality initiatives are also ‘currently underway’.

Leave a Reply