Published in The National on April 13, 2001

An extraordinary mother

LENA LIEW has a chat with a mother nurturing a very special toddler - the Port Moresby Stock Exchange.

What is it like to be the mother of a three-year-old who doesn't eat, doesn't cry, doesn't need nappies ... yet brings to the house the top investors and businessmen in Papua New Guinea?

Ask Emily George Taule, the general manger of the Port Moresby Stock Exchange (POMSoX).

"Most challenging indeed!" she chuckles. "Especially now; this baby is really picking up fast!"

"Since we conducted a very successful seminar for first time investors in Lae two weeks ago, things have turned around.

"People are requesting us to hold more of our educational seminars, unlike before when we had to go around asking.

"For instance, the Ok Tedi Mining Ltd has invited us to hold similar sessions for the people in Tabubil next month. And we have agreed to take part in Police Fraud Squad training workshops.

"In June we head for Madang (in the northern coast); then Rabaul (in the islands) in August and Mount Hagen (in the highlands) in October. You know, people actually flew in from Kimbe (in the islands) and Mount Hagen to attend our seminar in Lae!

"In between those seminars, we have invitations from schools to go and hold talks.

"We are also studying the logistics of going on a road show nationwide to showcase the stock exchange, and its member stockbrokers and companies.

"Then there's the listing of another three or four companies on the stock exchange soon ..."

Emily says all this in a single breath; she is on the roll ... doing what mothers do by instinct. Nurturing the potential of their young.

And so this mother gets busier and busier as her baby grows.

It was at one of the POMSoX seminars in Port Moresby that I first met Emily. Dressed in a smartly simple beige dress and scarf, she delivered a polished introduction on the history, role and rules of the POMSoX. I was struck by her crisp, self-assured, yet approachable and "motherly" professional carriage.

In the course of several e-mails after that, Emily patiently and effectively replied to my queries on stock investments and other financial instruments.

I thought she would have made a good teacher, if not everybody’s favourite aunt.

In a two-hour interview in her office some time later, I come up close and personal with the former national sportswoman, coach and administrator, who today still runs the City Pharmacy-sponsored Rebels when she is not seated among men in the top echelons of PNG's corporate world.

With full candour, the keen and clear-minded lady offered me insights into the inspiring story of her life - and how Success has all to do with Attitude.

Emily was recruited to be the listing manager of the POMSoX in June 1999; the stock exchange started trial trading in April that year, 14 months after it was incorporated. As such, like many mothers in Papua New Guinea, Emily cannot lay claim to having given birth to this baby.

"It was John Hooton, (formerly general manager of McIntosh Securities (PNG)) who asked me to join the POMSoX. He was then the executive director of the stock exchange after having been instrumental to its establishment," Emily recounts.

At the time, Emily was taking a break after 22 years with the National Investment Development Authority (Naida), which in 1992 became corporatised as the Investment Promotion Authority (IPA). The semi-retirement turned out to be only three months long.

"Well, I was enticed by the excitement and challenge of being part of something new; something with great potential," Emily explains.

As listing manager, Emily facilitates the listing of companies on the POMSoX. For the most part, this means lots of "knocking on doors" - writing, calling and going "out to the field" to educate and persuade companies to list on the POMSoX. Once a company is willing to list, Emily helps advise them on the Listing Rules and Business Rules.

In July 2000, Emily was appointed acting general manager. This followed the departure of Graeme Faulkner, Mr Hooton's successor.

Her additional duties now include the day-to-day running of the stock exchange - organising her staff, board meetings, attending to POMSoX members, fielding queries and more promotional activities.

Not having all the answers is her greatest challenge nowadays, Emily says.

Despite her experience in investment promotion, Emily insists that she is still on a learning curve.

After all, the POMSoX is a pioneering entity set up only not too long ago.

"Nearly all of us here have been here for only less than two years. There is a great sense of camaraderie as we learn and develop together," Emily notes.

"Us" is Emily's small team of administration manager/corporate secretary Dika Bogana-Kila, market controller/clearing and settlements officer Evangeline Taunao, receptionist/secretary Jenny Agarobe and technician/office clerk Jerry Nala.

Emily and her staff answer to the POMSoX board of directors - the CEOs of the two stock broker firms here, the BPNG governor - and board chairman Sir Anthony Siaguru.

Naturally, the collective achievement is when companies list on the POMSoX.

"Since 'live trading' commenced in June 1999, six more companies have listed; joining the four - Lihir, Orogen, Oil Search and Steamships - with which we started trial trading on April 28, 1999," Emily says.

Emily was previously director of the research and certification division in the IPA, responsible for checking out foreign investors, certifying their business, and monitoring their operations.

"As part of my duties, I went out to the rural areas to educate investors on the rules. That remains the most enriching experience in my professional life, as I travelled and learned a lot from my time in the provinces. I gained great satisfaction from helping people learn," she says.

Emily started off in Naida as a public relations executive after graduating from UPNG with a degree in sociology and anthropology in 1977. She went on to become a senior project officer and was liaison officer advising the then deputy prime minister Paias Wingti, before Naida became the IPA.

Emily names former IPA managing director (1994-1999) Aivu Tauvasa as the person who influenced her the most professionally.

"She was a fantastic, dynamic woman ... who turned the IPA from a civil service department into a dynamic, professional outfit that became the most talked about government agency in terms of efficiency.

"She was forward-looking, practical, firm and fair. She convinced us to change our work attitudes and instilled in many of us a sense a professionalism," Emily says.

I ask Emily if she had imagined herself taking this path.

"When I finished schooling, I did not have any idea what I wanted to do with my life. I think that's mostly because I was too busy. My early days were constantly occupied with sports," Emily replies.

I scribble frantically as she ticks off her sporting achievements representing the country in softball and netball during and after her university days.

"Singapore, Australia, the South Pacific Games ... so many! I have lost count," she chuckles.

Emily clearly sees herself more accomplished as a sports administrator - a turn in events that resulted in part from a severe knee injury in 1989.

She held the presidency of the PNG Netball Federation for 10 years from 1985 to 1995, and was national coach during that period.

"My most memorable experience was when we took the PNG Netball Federation back onto the international scene in 1885/1986, following re-affirmation by the International Federation of Netball Associations."

There was the 1987 World Games in Scotland, the first International Under 21 Games in Sydney in 1988, the 1991 World Games in Sydney ... and the various South Pacific Games.

PNG then joined the newly established Oceania Netball Association, and Emily and her administration began putting together development programs for juniors (in primary and high schools) and coaches in association with then National Institute of Sports’ netball coaching director Jan Waddy.

"She took netball to greater heights and I was fortunate to have worked with her," Emily recounts.

In softball, Emily remains involved in various junior development programs together with Dame Rose Kekedo, her former coach.

"We introduced juniors softball during my time as a player and public relations officer for the Port Moresby Women’s Softball Association. Dame Rose was a long-time president of the association."

In 1995, Emily she was awarded the British Empire Medal and then a Silver Medal at the South Pacific Sports Awards, both for distinguished service to sports.

"My greatest joy remains watching those little children blossom and grow as develop their skills and self-confidence," Emily says.

That comes from the Saturdays she spend on the netball courts her six junior and two senior netball squads.

Together with former PNG sporting greats like Veitu Diro, Iammo Launa, Florence Bundu (who are well into their 40’s if not 50’s), Emily occasionally still plays for the All Stars.

"People call us the ‘Old Stars’," she chuckles.

How does she juggle all this with her role as a wife, mother and daughter?

"With great support from my husband, children and family," she declares unhesitatingly.

Primary credit goes to her husband, Air Niugini capacity controller Jacob Taule.

"A PNG woman cannot succeed without a supportive husband," Emily stressed.

Jacob is originally from Matupit Island in East New Britain.

"We met through softball; he was playing for the Brown Eagles," Emily says unabashedly.

"I actually married quite late - in my early thirties. I already had a career, my own car, my own flat. I guess it was a case of ‘done this, seen that, now let’s try doing something different’!"

Jacob and Emily now have two daughters and two sons aged between 13 and two.

"Kalyna and Troy are our own; Jacob Jr and baby Wilhelmina were adopted from relatives," Emily says.

Kalyna goes to Grade 10 at the Port Moresby International School; Troy and Jacob Jr are in Grade 6 and Grade 4 respectively at St Joseph’s International School; while three-year-old Wilhelmina is in playschool.

"We let the older children live with my parents until they were pre-school age. Now, when we are at work, my sister Mary minds Wilhelmina at home and keeps an eye on the older children after school," Emily explains.

"My husband and I make it a point to spend weekends with the children. We make sure we go to their games, go swimming together, have meals together, visit relatives together."

Emily reckons that her own parenting attitudes arose from her own relatively liberal upbringing.

"My parents were very supportive when it came to education," she reminisces.

Emily’s late mother Nancy Kila-Kupa, was from Hula and her late father William Thomas George was from Marshall Lagoon, both in Central province.

"I am fourth of seven children - Allan, Margaret, Phillip (deceased), myself, Oki, Martha and Mary. So I guess my attitudes have nothing to do with being eldest.

"When we were living in Wewak, I was the only child who attended Australian primary school. Then when we moved to Port Moresby in 1966/1967, my younger brother Oki and I were sent to Ela Beach and Boroko East Primary "A’ schools (for white children), not "territorial" schools (for native children).

"When the opportunity arose in 1968, my parents let me go on scholarship to St Catherine’s in Queensland. After that I did Grade 11 and 12 at Sogeri High School, again on scholarship. Then I went to UPNG on the Natschol scheme.

"My mother was a great inspiration for me, because although she was herself uneducated, she insisted that her children go to ‘white schools’. She would walk us to school each day and wait at the gates to take us home! We didn’t dare to give the teachers reason to complain to her about us!

"My late father was a very loyal and disciplined man. He used to work for rural cooperatives until he was engaged by the then Department of Commerce and Industry in 1967. Since then, we settled in Port Moresby. I guess it was through him that we picked up sports." Mr George was a well-known rugby star during his heydays, and quite accomplished in other sports as well.

I note that Emily looks like she could be a fierce disciplinarian despite her warm, cuddly demeanor. She chuckles.

"Yes, I am quite strict with the children. I believe it is my responsibility to guide them; and discipline is the key to teaching them what’s right or wrong,’ Emily says.

"It’s too late now to discipline the adults. It is the children we have to teach to work together as a team to pick our country up," she adds thoughtfully.

"I try to instill in my children a sense of self reliance, along with self-esteem.

"I tell them there are lots of opportunities out there. They just have to believe in themselves and take that effort; instead of waiting for handouts."

Emily nevertheless stresses that she does not delve too much into gender issues.

"Because I believe everyone is an individual with their own strengths and weaknesses, whether they are male or female.

"I am convinced that most people have the potential to be more than what they are if only they were given a chance."

Is Emily "teaching" her daughter how to rise above the inherent male chauvinism that prevails to this day in PNG?

Thoughtfully, she says: "I think I would advise girls not to get married too young. Equip yourself first with living skills, income-earning skills and self confidence ... so that you can in turn be a better wife and mother."

Sound advice from a mother who turns 46 in two days’ time.