Doing business in PNG

Something that I have never blogged about, is how doing business especially here in Port Moresby is quite different to how we do it in New Zealand or Australia or wherever.

As a rapidly developing country, PNG is embracing the new, trying to transformational change its thinking, but retain its cultural identity.  In 2011, there was poor internet, disgraceful service delivery (although that still happens today), very few services, and bugger all to do.  It has taken transformational thinking to find opportunities and embrace them.  The PNG LNG project was set to deliver this to PNG, and although social media, and the newspapers abound state that PNG has not reaped the rewards of this project, I see it quite differently.  Without PNG LNG we would not have seen such a rapid change, and certainly a significant amount of Papua New Guineans firstly were able to develop new skills, but also build wealth and emerge as a real force in the economy.

Our Generation Y is different to most.  They want what you get in the USA/Australia/New Zealand, but reflect on the fact that it’s not nessessarily the best thing for them and their family.  They understand that to get ahead, they need to gain education, work hard, and the rewards will come.  They also know – that connections (even more importantly in PNG) gain business and deliver opportunities.  And they need to grab those opportunities and make them theirs.

Life is hard for most here in PNG, even our most affluent citizens are exposed to the hardships of living a subsistence life, and it wasn’t that long ago where most of our senior leaders were just kids trying to scrape together a few Kina for their education.

PNG is all about connections, having the right ones, knowing how it works, developing relationships, connecting with wantoks.  I am constantly reminded of how fine a line it is when someone walks out of a presentation, and everyone notes in in their journal.  It doesn’t matter if there are 10 people or 50, everyone notices.  And especially if you are an expat here, Papua New Guineans expect that you lead by example, be consistent, be honest, and be respectful.  If you get those four simple things right, you develop key relationships.  

There are opportunities to mix with very influential people (who can spot fakeness a mile away), but don’t forget our grassroots people.  You might be surprised when that roughly dressed individual is a representative of a landowner group worth millions of dollars.  And that Ples Man maybe the most interesting person you have met in your lifetime…

It reminds me of when I was in Sales back in the 90’s.  I was at an event, and a young lady walked up to our trade tent. One of our company owners was “on the clock” his turn for inbound enquiries, and he saw this girl walking up to our stand.  She was in typical “teen wear” back in the 90’s and he decided that she was beneath his sales expertise, so he turned to me and said I could deal with her.  It turned out that she was the Executive Assistant to the CEO of a very large multinational.  Needless to say, I sold one of the biggest deals of my career just because I didn’t look down my nose at her and sold her not on what we had, but what I could help her with.

Papua New Guinean’s are some of the quietest people you will meet, they are also the nicest, and they can also get pretty pissed off.  You need to give people the time to talk, take the time to listen, and then make sure you are adding value to the conversation.  Any less and you won’t succeed.  Oh, and it helps being a Kiwi 😉

Come to think of it, really – doing business here in Moresby isn’t actually different to anywhere else.  If you aren’t leading by example, being consistent, being honest and respectful – hopefully you struggle everywhere you go….

Myself and my team work on the following 5 pillars: Honesty, Loyalty, Respect, Trust and Communication.  We arrange this in an X with Communication in the middle.  We talk about those pillars being what we want to be to ourselves, our team, our company and our customers.  We believe that these 5 pillars form the basis for any high performing team, and establish a founding set of principles that we build on.  I wish that everyone coming to PNG could at least start there 🙂

Tasty Bite – Restaurant Review

Tasty Bite was “the” number one rated restaurant in Port Moresby, although since the foodie scene has opened up, it may have dropped down the list.

Tasty Bite is diagonally across from Crowne Plaza which is great for those of us that work in Town or live close.  They open for dinner at 5:30pm, and are generally very quick with takeaway orders, so I have rung them 321-2222/71114012, placed an order and picked up on the way home.

Tasty Bite is a small restaurant – but also has a separate upstairs area for groups.  The following is the main area:

They have had a few issues with getting robbed, so normally have a few guards around the place and the door is generally locked.  We tend to takeaway anyway, and have only had a sit down meal a couple of times.

Service is normally very quick, and they do plain chips (not on the menu) for fussy kids.

Currie’s can waver between being hot and bland, and on a good night it’s 10/10 – on a bad night it’s a 6/10 better than average.  I love a good Vindaloo, and Tasty Bite always seems to get this right.

The only issue is that their takeaway containers sometimes leak so be careful on the way home :).

We always come back though, and prefer it over Tandorri which is down at Harbourside due to the fussy child that needs chips.  And it’s reasonably priced; tonight’s meal of a Rogan Josh, Vindaloo and Boneless Butter Chicken, with 3 lots of Rice, 3 Naan and a container of Chips is just K160.  That’s cheaper than the local Indian back home – and much nicer.  The curries here are more Indian curry than Fiji Indian Curry like we get back in NZ, but still nothing like the real thing in India.

Tasty Bite also uses Go Food PNG for deliveries – a great service that we use often for various food outlets

Lanes – 10pin bowling in Port Moresby

Lanes is the new 10pin bowling alley here in Port Moresby.  After coffee at Cafe Palazzo, we headed up (the team in the cafe actually checked it was open for us without any prompting).

Xavier is keen on having his mates go bowling next week for his birthday (he was 12 yesterday) so we rocked up to try and book, was told that if we were there at 11am it would be no problem, and decided to throw down a couple of games whilst we were there.

The venue has 6 lanes, all modern (no bumpers for little kids though), a Cafe, alcohol, and the ability to buy from the restaurants down stairs.

Aside from no shoes and having to put covers over our existing footwear (which was hell slippery) it’s a real slick operation and well worth going to.  We had lots of fun, pictures and pricing are below:

Cafe Palazzo – Lamana Hotel

Thought I would pass the time by reviewing some of the places we eat/drink/socialise…

First up – Cafe Palazzo at Lamana Hotel.

Xavier and myself came to check out Lanes, Lamana’s 10pin bowling alley (more on that later) which was advertised at opening at 10am, but in reality it’s 11am.  So whilst waiting, popped into Cafe Palazzo for coffee and hot chocolate (pic below)

I really hate the glasses that everyone seems to use, my latte came out in the same type of glass/mug.

We also got a K22 slice of mud cake, which they sliced in two for us to share, which is great service (and only AUD$5 each – which is OK)

Yum!  Mud cake was light but still had that gummy taste we like 🙂 10/10

The coffee tasted slightly flavoured, which is not my cup of tea and a bit watery – better than other places, but if they ditched the glass/mug and put more foam into the latte it would be really good – 5/10.  Hot chocolate got rated a 7/10 – so that means we’ll be coming back 🙂

Edit: The Hot Chocolate got better as it went down, Xavier changed to a 9/10

The tub chairs you sit in are comfy as and they play very relaxing Italian music (Opera)  (even Xavier was tapping his feet).

The seating is arranged around the outside of a circle with the prep facilities in the middle, which means you don’t have many neighbours

Overall – nice, relaxing, great service from the staff and Xavier looked like he could spend the day “laxin out” in the armchair :). Coffee could be better, but everything makes up the shortfall.  We both agree that Cafe Palazzo is an easy 8/10

Also of note: they have homemade Gelato that we didn’t try – so maybe next time they might get a 9 😉

Driving in Port Moresby

Thanks to the raskols and attempted carjacking in August, I didn’t really have the mojo to write for a while.  Got it off my chest – then stewed for a long time.  My head wasn’t in the right space over the last part of the year, and I needed to completely relax over the Christmas period in order to get focus for another year.  (Not sure that I relaxed but…)

I was sitting there the other night thinking about what PNG does, that makes you better at something…  And the first thing I thought about was …. driving.

So how does being in PNG make you a better driver?

1. Your reactions are so much better!  Ever had a car on the outside of a roundabout go right around it and in front of you?  yup, that’s “surfing” the roundabout…  How about being in the line of traffic, so you are driving and go to overtake when you realise there is a [insert vehicle here – truck, bus, van, car, 2 cars, truck and trailer, etc] parked in your lane, with rocks placed behind the tyres (presumably because the handbrake doesn’t work – nah – just cause you can) completely immobilised, and you have to instantly check to make sure you aren’t going to hit a car traveling at 120km/hr from behind you (yes the speed limit is 60km/hr) and “dodge” around the car on the road.

2. You can dodge potholes at any speed, including at night, after a couple beers, with someone driving towards you with highbeams on.

3. You know how to work your Hazard lights, that you sometimes have to use when there is a crowd of people walking on the road, or a car broken down (see #1)

4. You can now drive through torrential monsoon rain where you can barely still see your car, let alone the car in front of you.

5. You can ford fast flowing rivers and creeks – as that is what happens to the roads when it rains…

6. You don’t go anywhere without your license!

7. You have reminder checks on your vehicles safety sticker and registration, and make sure you get new ones well in advance of them expiring

8. Every time you jump in your car, you check that all your lights are working (instant traffic fine – no matter what)

9. You learn how to stop without a stop sign, all you need is a policeman with a machine gun standing there

10. You make sure you have every excuse, address, wantoks name under the sun dialed into memory just in case you get stopped at a roadblock

11. You never leave home without your phone – just in case #10

12. You can ring and drive (yes we know it’s dangerous!), whilst dodging potholes and random abandoned cars.  Sometimes text and drive, and on the old occasion email and drive (shock horror!).

13. You identify approaching hazards well before you get to them…  The dog on the road (he will just cross it), the pig in the village (heaven forbid you hit one of those), the pikinini playing by the side of the road (omg – lukautim pikinini lo yu!), the people waiting to cross – running directly in front of you…

14. You know how to use a horn, whilst dodging potholes, texting, dodging abandoned cars, and avoiding stray dogs that someone, somewhere will claim ownership of.

15. You know how to yell at the taxi or PMV driver so that he knows that you aren’t some dim dim with no idea.  KKK isn’t a white supremist here – is abbreviation for the swear words that you yell in tok pisin at the taxi/pmv driver

16. You can line up the coke cans on the road to crush them using your tyres for the locals (lotsa Kina in crushed cans)

17. You always have a few Kina on you to pay someone to change your tyre

18. You know exactly how to change your tyre (see #17) so someone else can do it for you 🙂 (it’s no fun doing this in 30+ degree heat!)

19. You routinely run carjacking exercises, where everyone in the car ducks and you can still drive 500 metres up the road without looking at the road, driving by feel – hehehe

20. You learn to love the AC, leaving your windows up and your limbs inside the car

21. You know exactly how to jump into your car and lock the doors in under .23 of a second

22. You learn how to change oil, water, check tyre pressures etc – all because you actually have too

23. You can reverse (super fast) back down a road, in the middle of the night without crashing

24. Who needs 3 point turns, you’ve now mastered the handbrakey turn

25. You can park exactly in the middle of a carpark (actually, excludes those with DC plates – they can’t park)

26. You have no issue sliding from lane to lane, at speed, whilst talking to someone on the phone and yelling at the kids to shaddup..

27. You don’t need a GPS – you know exactly where you are going, and if you get lost you just keep driving whilst ringing the person to where you are going to and see #26

28. You can identify a police car, not because is says police on it – you just know

29. You learn how to travel in Convoy following a madman who does #26 #14 and #19 routinely

30. You recognise all your friends car’s, and know all of their number plates (so you can tell the guards to let them into your compound), you remember all their phone numbers too.

31. You see dead dogs on the road and you don’t flinch, waver or cause an accident.  You slide the car past as if it wasn’t even in the way – without taking a breath.

32. Bonus: Your kids learn how to count (How many dogs were dead on the freeway today?  2 Dad!) and learn the alphabet by playing I Spy (I Spy with my little eye, something beginning with D D…   Dead Dog!)

33. Riding shotgun takes on a whole new meaning in Moresby…  You strategically place your passengers in the car, intimidation sometimes is best 🙂

34. You figure out who to wave to, and you can spot a roadside fruit seller 300 metres away

35. You learn the international signs for:  I don’t want any; piss off; come here; I’m watching you buddy; I’ll see you later; yes, its me, I live here; look at my sticker!

36. You figure out what #35 means

37. You know where to get air for tyres, and what fuel station doesn’t have water in the fuel problems.

38. You can shift house with someone standing on the back of your ute holding on to everything

38. And just for my mate Andrew – you can reverse a boat up 400 metres of winding narrow road, through a security gate, up a hill and into a garage – without a permit or anyone getting pissed off

love it 🙂