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John Jambert: An emerging PNG leader

12 July 2012 By Hannah Carrodus

John Jambert
John Jambert

John Jambert, HR intern at Leadership Victoria (LV), has a vision of a Papua New Guinea that is free of corruption.

The PNG local, who worked for mining company Lihir Gold Limited (now owned by Australian Newcrest Mining) for 11 years, plans to run for office in the PNG 2017 election, with the hope of changing PNG for the better.

Unicef statistics reveal that Papua New Guineans are among the poorest people in the world.

The average income is just US$3.50 per day, which does not account for the extreme disparities in the distribution of wealth.

Violent tribal wars, domestic violence and HIV infections are common occurrences in PNG and serious concerns for international observers.

However, John says that most of PNG's problems boil down to bad leadership decisions.

"A lot of people see PNG as being a lot of poverty and weakness but it all goes back to the leadership," John says.

John says that Papua New Guinea is a rich country in terms of culture and natural resources. Its 6.5 million people speak more than 750 languages and vast amounts of oil, natural gas, copper, gold and timber are found in its soil.

Yet while mining and petroleum projects provide abundant economic opportunities for PNG, the fruits of these opportunities seem to be shared amongst a privileged few.

"We have people in the leadership who are less educated. Even thieves, even conmen, and con-women, who get in and they make decisions to suit themselves," John says. "They twist the law."

Should he be elected, John intends to "speak the truth, uncover what they're doing and change the mindset of the people."

John admits this will be no easy feat. He says that encouraging parliamentary leaders – many of whom have vested interests – to work together for the good of the country will be challenging.

However, John is optimistic he can rise to the challenge.

John was born and bred in Mount Hagen, the capital city of the scenic Western Highlands Province and Papua New Guinea's third largest city.

John completed a Bachelor in Business Economics from the University of Papua New Guinea in 1995 and in 1998 he started working for Lihir Gold Limited, where he worked for the proceeding 11 years.

John worked for the company as a Senior HR Officer (Learning and Development) and through this role he coordinated several leadership development training programs for the company, local NGOs and business leaders.

However, while John enjoyed his time at Lihir, in 2010 he decided to return to study.

John moved overseas to complete dual masters degrees. He was awarded an AusAID scholarship to complete a Master of Commerce (International business) at Swinburne University and a Master of Science (Global Leadership) from Northeastern University in Boston, US.

John finished his double masters at the end of last year and he is now completing an internship with Leadership Victoria sponsored by AusAID thanks to John's excellent academic results and his leadership potential.

John has been at Leadership Victoria for approximately five weeks now, during which time he has been improving LV's management systems and gaining knowledge about leadership theory.

John has also been participating in the June Igniting Leadership Program and the Williamson Community Leadership Program, which he says have been interesting and helpful experiences.

John is especially positive about this year's speakers and course participants, whom he says provided many useful leadership insights that will be of benefit for his future leadership ambitions.

After completing his internship at LV John will jet off to the London Olympics, which he will be attending due to his role as national president of the PNG Judo Federation- another leadership position that John has excelled in.

John has coordinated several youth development programs for young judo players, such as mentoring programs, and has coached elite athletes.

This year one of John's athletes has qualified for the Olympics – the first time a PNG Judo athlete has done so. In London John will provide support to the male judo athlete and will walk with the PNG Olympic team in the opening ceremony.

When John returns to PNG after the Olympics he plans to work with NGOs on community projects, and he sees education, the servicing of existing public infrastructure and the development of health services as the crucial issues for PNG's next stages of development.

In terms of political goals, John considers abolishing government red tape and ethically managing PNG's vast natural resources as the main priorities for his country.

"I want PNG to be run by political leaders that are transparent and serve the interest of the people," John says.

"I wish one day the political leaders will unite and rise up to ensure direction is provided for Papua New Guineans to have a greater say on how their resources are managed."