Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Working Man

While I have been off having a wonderful, amazing summer with friends and family in the US, Bryce has been busy working in Papua New Guinea. It's not easy for him to be in such an isolated location alone, working a stressful job so I am incredibly grateful that he was willing to sacrifice my company and support so that I could have this opportunity. Obviously, we do our best but email and Skype (combined with an insane time difference) can only allow for a certain level of support. 

While I have been over here, one of the most frequent questions I get asked is "What is Bryce doing in PNG?".  I do my best to explain but am pretty sure Bryce could do better. So... I thought I would give him the opportunity! 

The Working Man!
We "sat down" for a little Q & A... join us! 


Alissa: First things first, there are a lot of people out there that think you are a secret agent. Would you like to put the rumors to rest?
Bryce: Flattering but no! Definitely not!

A: OK, so you are NOT a secret agent. What is it that you do then?
B: I'm a management consultant, specializing in reform of government departments in developing countries.

A: Right.... but what do you actually do??

B: Generally, what I actually do when I work with an organization is to firstly observe and analyze the current situation to identify issues and their causes. I then work with a group of key people to figure out what can be done to address the issues, and then design and implement some interventions. A review typically follows to assess whether it worked or not. There are endless variations, depending on the level of sophistication of the organisation and the extent of the help they need for each step.

A: What is your background? How did you get started in this field?

B: I started as an analyst and software engineer consulting to Defence.  From there I moved into management consultancy with a major firm and climbed the corporate ladder, starting to do work around the world.  Several years ago, I speculatively applied for a short-term freelance consultancy in PNG and got offered the job.  It was great fun, rewarding and very challenging, so I've kept at it.

A: You mentioned the challenges. Can you name a few?

B: There are heaps of challenges.  Language and cultural barriers are two of the big ones, although a healthy dose of patience and treating people with respect typically addresses that.  Another key trap that I see lots of newbies trying is to copy something that worked "back home".  They fail to consider the major environmental differences and get surprised that their copy-job fails miserably in the completely different environment.  Mostly the biggest challenges, however, come from the people with the chequebook pushing for rapid results in environments that aren't ready to accept it. It's a bit like running through the mud being chased by a crocodile.

A: What about the rewards?

B: I often describe why I like what I do as follows:
- if I help a sophisticated organisation in a developed country, it might move their performance up a couple of notches if they're lucky.
- if I can help a struggling organisation in a developing country, the results can be truly transformational for them.  That is a very rewarding experience, and it's happened for me a couple of times.  It's not easy though.  

A: Are there any highlights of your current job so far or is it to early to say?

B: The highlights of this job really are the people that I'm working with in the agency.  There is a strong sense of wanting to do things better, but not currently having the tools to achieve it.  That's the perfect environment for work like mine. 


And that concludes our interview! I'm very proud of this guy! 

If you have any more questions for Bryce, feel free to leave them in the comments!  


  1. Still sound like a secret agent to me, Bryce!

    1. Now I know & if I forget, I can reread your blog! 😀