After clocking a total of 16 years at South Pacific Brewery (SPB), Stella Ikasa, is jetting off to Lae, Morobe Province, as the first Papua New Guinean female to manage a brewery in the country.

Ms Ikasa, from Madang Province, is one of South Pacific Brewery’s (SPB) early Management Graduate trainees who excelled quickly within the Company after being recruited in 2005.

Known for her passion for quality in brewing, Ms Ikasa has a wealth of knowledge and experience at SPB and is always eager to mentor and coach junior staff, who now hold senior managerial positions within the Company. Her experience comes from numerous trainings in Quality and Brewing within the Asia Pacific region and years of service at both the Port Moresby and Lae breweries.

“A year after graduating from the University of Technology with a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Technology, I started my graduate training program with SPB in Lae. After six months of joining the program, I was promoted to the role of Quality Control Supervisor, as well as a Microbiologist.”

Ms Ikasa’s performance and passion didn’t go unnoticed. She quickly moved up the ladder in 2010 and was appointed Quality Control Manager for the Lae Brewery. A role she assumed for ten years, where she led the implementation of the Laboratory Star System (LSS) 1 (a subsidiary standard of ISO 17025 under HEINEKEN Laboratories). With the successful confirmation for the LSS 1 certification in 2015 for the SPB Lae laboratory, she was elevated to the role of Brewing Manager in Lae for four years and later moved to Port Moresby to take up her current role as Packaging Manager.

“Three things that really stood out for me at SPB and have become useful career tools for me:

  • SPB has structured systems available with vast information within the HEINEKEN world. When you require support and/or information, these are made available to you with a click on the mouse.
  • SPB nurtures and invests in shaping its leaders through a lot of self-awareness and leadership trainings.
  • I had excellent mentors and coaches throughout my career here at SPB. This is what makes this Company unique. I intend to pass on knowledge gained from my mentors to junior staff, so they too can develop their career here.

“I can proudly say that the trainings that I undertook has helped me to impart skills to my direct reports. I feel accomplished when I see my team members perform tasks according to how I have trained and guided them to do and taking ownership of tasks. This gives me the assurance that I can move on with my career path within the company.

“Of course, I have faced many challenges along the way. Three main challenges include:

  1. Reporting to tough manager(s) fresh from school – I overcame that challenge by staying focused on my purpose. My family (younger siblings) are my motivation to keep pushing on each day.
  2. Leading a male dominated team for the first time in 2016 – I spent time to get to know every member of my team. I had to understand them not only at a professional level but also personally. It took me more than a year to build trust and loyalty from my male colleagues. I also worked closely with their team leaders to set up their training plans through Personal Development Plans (PDP).
  3. Facing production issues that require technical attention – I have a science background, so I do face challenges at times – What has worked for me is;
  • If I don’t know, I simply advise that I will investigate further and revert with feedback
  • I ask the area Engineering Team Leader to explain the details and I take notes for learning purposes, so I am in a better position to explain technical difficulties myself in the event I am faced with similar issues.”

What are some achievements you a proud off?

“Three things I’m really proud of:

  1. Attainment of the LLS 1 certification for the Lae laboratory under my guidance.
  2. Mentoring and coaching junior team members who are now holding senior managerial positions at SPB.
  3. I’m humbled and grateful to God as my source of strength and the SPB Management Team who believed in me thus the appointment to Brewery Manager in Lae. I am ready to do my job diligently.”

What advice would you give to colleagues?

Ms Ikasa said:

  • In all you do, always put GOD first.  Do your part and He will do the rest.
  • When given an opportunity, be it big or small, grab it with open arms and give 110% of your effort. Your commitment and perseverance to improve yourself each day and the environment you work in must be your utmost priority.  Do not give up easily on challenges and brick walls.  This world is always full of that so when you face obstacles both at work and in life, take a break and moment to study these situations and how they can be handled differently.  Always reach out for help and support for guidance and support.
  • Listen to the advices and coaching from your mentors and coaches and apply them in your work and personal life.
  • Be loyal to yourself, your family, your team and SPB

“I believe these will take you a long way within the company.”