Women leading and influencing



Clera Sam returns to PNG to transform digital communication

Monday, 3 May 2021

Communications specialist and Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) alumna Clera Sam has been advancing the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government’s online presence.

The Master of Digital Media graduate highlights the ways that WLI has impacted her leadership journey, how she is applying her newly developed leadership skills, and her experience working as the only media and public relations officer in a large government department.

Returning to PNG’s Department of Lands and Physical Planning

Since completing her Master’s degree at Victoria University and returning home, Clera has returned to her role as the sole Public Relations Officer for PNG’s Department of Lands and Physical Planning

Since returning to the role, Clera has helped the Department transition its key publications online. She also developed and has begun to implement two digital marketing frameworks outlining how social media can be “fully utilised in the Department’s legislation amendments, public awareness or media campaigns”.

Clera has expressed interest in collaborating with the Department of Information, Communication and Technology to establish a social media framework in line with the recent launch of PNG’s Digital Transformation Policy – a high-level policy paper that expresses the Government's plan to embark and deliver digital infrastructure, digital skills, innovation and entrepreneurship, digital cyber security and privacy, and more.

Using newfound skills to lead real community projects in PNG

When it comes to facing decision-making and leadership challenges in her workplace, family, and community, Clera says “the leadership skills and tools learned through WLI are extremely helpful”, and she is eager to share what she has learned with others.

“I feel I have more to offer using my learned leadership skills and experience gained in Australia and I would like to utilise these skills to the best of my abilities,” says Clera.  “I challenge myself all the time to look out for opportunities to contribute meaningfully back to the community, my work as a public servant, and nation-building as a whole.”

Clera confirms that the opportunities for “different network building and expanding connections” through WLI were invaluable, including with fellow emerging women leaders from the Pacific who share similar development goals and professional interests.

One example of this network in practice is the collaborative COVID-19 Leadership Project that Clera designed and led with her fellow WLI alumni, Welenie Yaki and Rhoda Karl, to mitigate the pandemic’s effects on women market vendors in PNG.

Their Women’s Economic Empowerment project supported Port Moresby-based women market vendors whose health and livelihoods were at risk due to COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns and restrictions to market activity.

Clera says some of the women their project supported have gone on to register their previously informal businesses, and some have even expanded their operations to other provinces because of the high demand for their products.

“As a Project Lead, this is welcoming news to see that the women participants are taking ownership and growing and expanding their projects, while I provide support wherever I can,” Clera says.

Clera, Welenie and Rhoda’s project was one of 15 COVID-related leadership projects scoped, designed and implemented by WLI participants and alumni across six Pacific countries over 2020.

WLI provided ‘excellent opportunity’ for mentoring and self-reflection

While a WLI participant, Clera was matched with mentor Australian Eleonor Dean, who leads communication, stakeholder engagement and capacity building programs for the Australian Centre of International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

Clera says, “The WLI Leadership and Mentoring Program was a very excellent opportunity for me, as it helped me become better in my professional engagement based on the tips and mentoring I had.”

“Insights into managing life and overall wellbeing” as well as “learning to explore self-potential, identify my strengths and weaknesses, and capitalise on these strengths to better myself as a person and how I relate and interact with others,” were also invaluable learnings of the program.

Clera’s ‘perspective on women’s leadership has changed a lot’

Since taking part in the WLI and returning home, Clera expresses that her “perspective on women's leadership has changed a lot”.

“In the past, men were dominant in leadership throughout all sectors,” Clera explains, “Women are now more informed, prioritising education which is a pathway for knowledge, skills and power.”

 “It is pleasing to see women rising as leaders in their families, the rate of women graduating from universities, and women taking up very senior positions in the corporate and public sector,” Clera adds.

While there is still a long way to go, she believes “women have a lot to contribute to nation-building and empowerment in all sectors, especially when it comes to personal development”.