Solien ‘walks the talk’ to achieve her dream
BY GRACE AUKA SALMANG
DESPITE her challenges in life that made her thought she would not complete her tertiary education to be an engineer, Ginisegana Solien through the Business and Professional Women Club (BPW) finally completed her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2015.
Ms Solien, 34, from Central Province, never gave up her hopes of returning to school to complete her degree in civil engineering at the Papua New Guinea University of Technology when a scholarship for women under the Decie Autin Science, Technology, and Engineering & Maths (STEM) was offered to her.
BPW of Port Moresby’s main activity is to provide scholarships to assist women and girls to complete their education.
“I have had my challenges and it was not easy, it is good to hang around with positive people and believe that you can achieve your goals by ‘walking the talk’ and not just saying and/or thinking about it,” she said.
After completing her secondary education in 2001 at Gordon Secondary School, Ms Solien was selected to take up Civil Engineering studies at the University of Technology in 2002, however due to circumstances she did not complete her final year of study. “I left school and get a job with a construction company called C&M Engineers, because I needed the money to survive. The company specialised in minor earthworks and concrete structures and I had the opportunity to work at various gold mines in Papua New Guinea”.
“I was an admin officer but because of my background in Civil Engineering, my employer trained me to do field work, eventually my job title changed to quality assurance (Q&A) officer,” she said.
She added that due to lack of available work and downsizing of crews, she started to look for another job, but it was very difficult because she did not have a certificate or a degree.
“It was very hard to get back to construction again especially without certified qualification”.
At the time Esso Highlands Limited was recruiting administration officers. “I applied, however I was knocked back. A week later I was interviewed for another position which was to supervise a small project at the LNG plant site outside Port Moresby and that is how I began as an Esso Highlands Limited (now ExxonMobil PNG Limited) contractor.
“In 2014 EMPNG’s Women in Energy Network (WEN) had a number of mentoring sessions, I attended a few of the sessions and met some of the company’s senior staff who shared their experiences with the network,” she said. “During one of the mentoring session which involved speed interview, she mentioned that she had studied for Bachelors Degree in Civil Engineering but did not complete it. A few of our female engineers, including Decie Autin encouraged me to go back and complete my studies.”
After completing her project at the LNG plant site, Ms Solien was assigned to what was then land and community affairs department as an analyst.
“At the time we had a female manager who continued to mentor me and encouraged me to return to school to complete my degree. A day before University of Technology registration closed I arrived in Lae to hand-deliver my application which was accepted and I eventually went back to school in February last year. I left work to complete my studies”
Ms Solien said that going back to school with students younger than herself was challenging at times because their concentration level was different from hers but she managed to get through, graduated and then applied for the EMPNG Graduate Program. By early November 2015, she started her new role as a graduate engineer.
She is focused on learning and developing her Civil and Geotechnical Engineering skills.
Her job gives her the opportunity to travel to the EMPNG LNG plant site and the Hides Gas Conditioning Plant in Hides for work.