“They were all good,” says Elizabeth Genia, an Assistant Governor of the Bank of PNG referring to the five ABV volunteers who worked with the bank. In early 2014 ABV established a three year partnership with the Bank of Papua New Guinea to deliver an institutional strengthening program. An initial scoping project by ABV volunteer Jennifer Marshallsea led to a series of ABV projects focusing on communications, human resources and electronic records management.

In May 2017 ABV visited the bank to evaluate the longer term outcomes these projects generated. To do this ABV sought the views of counterparts with whom the volunteers worked, as well as managers who commissioned the projects. It is clear that the ABV volunteers have contributed to significant change at the bank.

According to the communications team the skills they gained working with Robert Howarth have helped the bank’s messages to be heard. “In the past there were journalists that were quite critical of the bank, and not many people knew what the bank was all about” says one team member. Robert focused on drafting skills and engaging with the media during his assignment. “I’ve used the skills about working with journalists and managing press conferences quite a lot,” says one. “The messages of the bank are more effectively communicated now… A lot more people know what the bank is and what we do.”

The key output of Bronwyn Kosman’s placement was a report recommending a move to an automated workflow, and the re-engineering of business processes. This placement was followed by two related placements by Roy Ranney who began working with a small team to map out business processes as a first step to the re-engineering process.

These two placements contributed directly to the bank’s decision to fund the automation of workflows and records management. This is a very significant transformational program for the bank and required the hiring of long-term expert consultants. In the Assistant Governor’s words, “Bronwyn and Roy’s work contributed to getting the Executive Committee to approve the program…We were talking about a records filing project for many years prior to Bronwyn coming… Their work gave the background information as to what we were going to do.”

“Working with Shelley was very challenging, but good” says a member of the HR team. “She was very energetic.” In the short time Shelley was placed with the HR team all concerned agree she got a lot done, contributing to the strategic plan, developing a timesheet system and several new policies. The clearest long-term outcome of her placement has been the roll-out of a new performance management system. As well as cutting reporting down from 15 pages to two or less, it is in line with best practice, tying performance to the strategic plan, and reporting against four dimensions. “There are many changes that the PMS is driving” says one member of team. “It is a more efficient process and a better system but at the same time it is having an impact on mindset.”

Several more ABV placements are now in the works. “I like the ABV philosophy – short term placements, then getting staff to put into practice what they have learnt,” says the Assistant Governor. “ABV’s model is good because these are people who want to come and transfer knowledge. This works well in the PNG context. They are not coming and doing everything. They are about on-the-job learning.”

Australian Business Volunteers