INTERVIEW WITH KINA BANK’S SHARON PUNAU ON INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY
Our Head of Operations-Wealth, Sharon Punau, is a role model for many women outside Kina Bank and those within. We are very proud of Ms Punau’s hard work and her many achievements.
Amongst our celebrations on International Women’s Day, we interviewed Ms Punau about her experience at Kina Bank.
We hope you find Ms Punau’s experience inspirational.
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How long have you been with Kina Bank?
I joined on December 2009. I’ve been with Kina Bank for over 8 years.
How many staff will be working under you?
This is quite big in terms of my experience in a managerial role. I am excited about the challenges that comes with it and most importantly to see us growing together. I know that I will learn a lot from my team and hope that they will learn a lot from me too. The age group within my team ranges from 22 years to 36 years old.
There’s about 59 people who will be working under me in the new structure. Equal mix of males and females.
Who reports to you?
I will have about 9 direct reports, i.e. Senior Manager (x1), Managers (x5), Project Managers (x3).
Tell us about yourself, your educational and professional background.
I am 36 years old, from Manus Province, and a proud mother of two handsome boys, 9 and 5 years respectively. One of my strengths is being able to persevere in everything I do – I never say die. Sometimes to my own detriment but being a mum reminds me that I am only human and it is okay to fail. You just have to reassess your strategy and do better next time.
I have over 17+ years’ of experience in the financial services industry, specifically in insurance, risk management, superannuation and retirement planning.
I joined Kina Bank in 2009 as a Fund Administrator, progressed to a Team Leader role in 2011, Manager in 2014, Senior Manager for Funds Administration in 2017, and was recently promoted to being the Head of Fund Administration in 2018.
In terms of my qualification, I attained:
- an Associate accreditation with the Australia and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance in 2007
- a Certificate IV in Frontline Management through TAFE in Australia in 2010,
- accreditation with the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia as being RG146 compliant in 2012.
- Diploma of Superannuation with Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia in March 2016 – being the first person in the pacific, being a female.
Most recently, I completed the Leadership Development Program in 2018 at the National University of Singapore, Business School. I was a participant of the Kina Leadership Development Program facilitated by Franklin Covey International in 2018.
How do you feel about this promotion?
I have a very supportive team at work and also a very supportive family. I suppose those are the only two things that anyone needs to aspire in whatever they want to be in life, i.e. having a supportive family and having a great team. Not so many companies invest in their people – I feel blessed for the opportunity provided to me which has allowed me to grow and come this far in my career. It’s a great company to work for.
Kina Bank has been very supportive of my personal and professional development. I am very humbled by this promotion. It is such a satisfying feeling. Not just here at work but at home also. I hope my team are inspired by this because it provides a pathway for them in terms of their career.
Do you see this as a promotion of gender equity, gender equality and women empowerment?
In so many ways – yes, I do.
I see this as promoting gender equity and equality meaning that no matter who you are within the team, male or female, you can become the Head of Operations if you want to.
There is a very clear career pathway here in Kina Bank which has proven to work. I see this promotion as promoting women empowerment. This means there should be no limit to great achievement, no matter what gender you are. If you are a woman, and you have put in the hard yards – why shouldn’t you get the job?
This promotion has inspired women who are working at Kina Bank, giving them hope by showing how they can progress to further their own careers. It also tells them that they should never give up and that being a woman should not limit your ability to aspire to being someone important within your community.
I also find a lot of pride in the job that I currently do. It was only 5 years ago when the people in my team realized that being a Fund Administrator is actually a career and that you can achieve greater heights and go places.
The culture at Kina Bank has changed dramatically. This promotion is a true testament for that, and is empowering for Papua New Guinean men and women within our great company. Statistics have proven also that gender diverse companies are likely to perform better, it promotes collaborative, collective, creative and innovative ideas and solutions which helps the organization make better decisions.
Why is gender equality important?
Women should be treated equally in social, economic, and all other aspects of society, even at home or at work. Kina promotes gender equality and that is why I enjoy being a part of this great company.
Gender Equality simply means that every employee, male or female, has access to the same treatment and benefits, which is why equality is everybody’s issue.
Despite what many people assume, gender equality is not restricted or subjective to creating advantages for women, no! In my opinion, that is the wrong concept and this mind-set must be changed.
Both men and women should be given the opportunity to be free to express themselves, free to make decisions and choices, free to develop their personal abilities without being stereotyped and without limitations set by rigid gender roles and pre-conceived opinions.
Women must be judged equally based on what they can offer and based on their true abilities in any organization. Gender equality is very important.