SERENA Sasingian is an aspiring Papua New Guinean who has the heart to contribute back to the nation through her profession.
Serving as the chief executive officer of Digicel Foundation since February this year, the 34 year old who hails from Yangoru in East Sepik Province, is a proud testament of her parent’s upbringing. She is part of the Foundation’s board and works closely with other directors who are mostly staff of Digicel to develop the foundation’s strategy and policies.
Her parents always put big emphasis on the importance of education. She completed her Bachelor of Law in 2008 and graduated with second class honours at the University of Papua New Guinea. Then in 2014, she won a scholarship to study for a masters of business specializing in philanthropy and for profit studies at the Queensland University of Technology.
“I grew up in a household where my father and mother always put big emphasis on the importance of education. I’ve always had a strong desire to give back to PNG. My father was a public servant and career diplomat so I’ve always felt a sense of obligation to serve my country,” said Ms Sasingian.
She thought this would see her working in government agencies but said life has a way of taking its own course before anyone achieves their goal.
In 2007 Sasingian and husband Joseph Sumanop while studying law together, co-founded The Voice Inc and through their individual leadership saw her mentoring hundreds of young people who are now excelling in their studies and careers. In 2010 the organization was formally incorporated and they set up a board of directors.
The second board she was part of is Femili PNG, a case management centre helping to support people experiencing family and sexual violence. Later in 2016 she was nominated and appointed as an Independent Director on Health, Safety and Sustainability Board Sub-Committee of Oil Search Limited.
“A few have also resigned from their jobs to start projects and initiatives in their villages. Many say that my example has inspired them to have faith in their purpose and pursue their dreams. In my role now as the CEO of Digicel Foundation I lead an incredible team who are making a real difference in the lives of people in remote parts of the country,” said Ms Sasingian who recently appointed to the eminent Board of Advisors of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) based in Stockholm, Sweden.
She said Digicel Foundation has built over 600 classrooms to date across every district in the country and she joined the foundation at an exciting time where they are expanding the work of the organization. She said they also focus on rolling out programs to support health and education outcomes.
Ms Sasingian’s advice to other young and aspiring directors serving in other organizations is to look for opportunities to serve. She also acknowledges her husband as her great supporter and also his passion about corporate governance which supported her throughout her various roles.
“The challenges are great but the opportunities are greater. Look for opportunities to serve. Much of my Board experience has come off working and volunteering for not for profit organizations. Don’t necessarily look for money but look for a cause that you can serve through. That is the best way to build your skills and network. I’ve found that in doing so doors will open up for you,” said Ms. Sasingian.
Sasingian said she has many role models but the one she holds dear to her career as her mentor is Dimity Fifer – the inaugural chair for the Board of The Voice Inc and current permanent secretary for the Ministry of Local Government in Fiji.