Excel Through Passion

He was one of the early graduate trainees SP Brewery (SPB) recruited in 1992 and one of few employees who excelled quickly within the organisation.

Kuri Yuwai, from Eastern Highlands Province, is known for his passion for brewing. He is also a man who has a wealth of experience at SPB and is always excited to share his stories with colleagues.

After clocking a combine total of 26 years of service with SPB, with one training assignment in Malaysia and a HEINEKEN brewing training in Munich (Germany) and Holland under his belt, Mr Yuwai will be jetting off to the Solomon Islands to join counterparts at the Solomon Brewery (SolBrew), for the next three years.

“It’s been an amazing journey for me. After being accepted as a graduate trainee in 1992, in less than five months I was made a Packaging Supervisor in Lae, before returning to Port Moresby to assume the role of Brewing Supervisor in 1993.”

Mr Yuwai’s performance and passion didn’t go unnoticed. He quickly moved up the ladder in 1995 when he was appointed to Packaging Manager and in 1997, Production Manager, in Port Moresby. Since then, he has held various managerial roles both at the Lae and Port Moresby breweries.

“Two things stand out in my career at SPB. The first one is being made Production Manager in 1997 ahead of other colleagues who had similar qualifications and longer work experience. It’s not common for young graduates who’ve just joined any organisation to assume managerial roles in such a short time,” said Mr Yuwai.

“The second was bringing in more women to work in production; on the shop floor, in Packaging and Brewing has always been a career goal for me. Developing people is an important key leadership aspect. It’s not about developing ourselves individually but also helping our people, at the work place.”

“In 1995, when I was in Malaysia, I saw ladies working in Packaging. I was pleasantly surprised and amazed with their work. I made it a personal objective to one day implement the same at SPB.”

There were some resentments in the late 90s, Mr Yuwai recalls. But 2008 saw a breakthrough when he was made Brewery Manager at the Port Moresby Brewery.

“For me, this was a success story that would lead to many more women added to the Brewery. We employed two women to work on the can line at the Port Moresby Brewery in 2006 and I did the same when I was made Brewery Manager in Lae, in 2011.

Twenty six years since he first walked into the Brewery’s gate as a young 24 year old, Mr Yuwai is pleased to note that the number of women in Packaging and Brewing has increased from two in 2006, to 21 in 2020, at both Breweries.

“Other notable changes I’ve seen since 1992 include:

  1. A lot more females assuming middle manager roles.
  2. Modernization of brewery machines and equipment.
  3. Change in the Safety mindset of employees, especially those on the shop floor.”

Asked what motivates him to keep working at SP Brewery, Mr Kuri said:

“1. There is never a dull moment. It’s not monotonous. I encounter different challenges every day at the work place. I am constantly learning new things. Brewing is a discipline that is positioned in between natural science and human art involving the use of our five senses. This is the part that connects with me personally, where my passion develops. As new knowledge in brewing unfolds, technological innovation was also accelerated and newer skills and competencies become imminent. I was constantly kept excited to be part of that whole transition and this is what I guess motivates me to stay on with SBP.

“2. The opportunities provided to me to develop myself was great and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get the same opportunities outside of SPB.

  1. The family culture at SPB also has a large influence on why I stayed longer with the Company.

Apart from his short trip to Malaysia, this will be Mr Yuwai’s first time to work overseas.

“My family is ecstatic! They are really looking forward to the move. I am personally very excited as well, as it has been one of my career ambition to work abroad at a HEINEKEN Brewery. I will finally get to tick that box. This is also going to be a move towards the pinnacle of my career and I am really looking forward to it.”

But apart from ticking off his personal goals, Mr Yuwai is also determined to support SolBrew’s leadership team during his tenure.

“I hope to pursue staff development by closing competency gaps in knowledge, skills and behavior, not only in Supply Chain but across the organization; support the development of the next leaders within the organization and create an environment where staff feel encouraged to reach their fullest potential. I would like to see staff go home each day feeling happy about their daily achievements.

“This move demonstrates the opportunity available for us in SPB, not only in Supply Chain but in other functions as well, that we can be able to go on long term assignments abroad. I know what it means for me to set the pace and I will give it my best shot.  I want to thank Marc DeMeyere for his continual support and guidance, and I want to also acknowledge and thank the Management Team for supporting my professional development.”

Asked what his professional advice is to Papua New Guineans reading this story, Mr Yuwai said “Be curious!”

“Curiosity will encourage you to find out more and you get to learn something new by doing so. The more you do that, the more you learn new things. You develop your knowledge. When I compare the availability of knowledge materials when I started my career 28 years ago and now, there is a huge amount of these knowledge materials available now at our finger tips, through digital platforms. Sometimes I feel jealous that these materials are now easily accessible.

“Chart a course for your career, how you want to see yourself progressing. Make a plan and define clear specific actions what you have to do to make the plan a success.”