Everyday People PNG : Vanessa Kihanges

I’m a lawyer by profession but due to COVID-19, I’ve decided to try my hand at private consulting so I currently run my own small business consulting firm with less than 10 clients.

In a nutshell, I help my clients run their businesses.

I believe the best is yet to come.

But on a serious note, in my past life I was a mergers and acquisitions lawyer, amongst other things, so I've had the privilege of assisting in some very big M&A deals in PNG, including the USD89 million recapitalisation of bmobile a couple of years ago with the partners at Leahy Lewin Lowing Sullivan Lawyers, and most recently, the sale of some of ANZ Bank PNG's businesses to Kina Bank.

Being awarded the Australian Awards Scholarship in 2018 by the Australian government has assisted me greater.

It takes perseverance, commitment and confidence (honestly sometimes I fake the confidence part) to achieve anything. Some deals can go on for months, if not years, so keeping your eyes on the ball and covering all your bases is most crucial.

I’ve had such wonderful mentors like late Fatima Moses, formerly of FinCorp Finance, Sullivan, Leahy, Lewin and Nutley at LLLS Lawyers and Ridgeway at PLN and Iduhu at Fairfax, now PLG, that I probably haven't had it as tough as most females but the PNG concept of ‘big men’ definitely hinders the progress of females in the PNG corporate world.

Some men do not want to take instructions or advice from a female, even if the female is right and has a lot of experience to back her advice. I normally just give the advice, highlight the consequences and let clients decide whether to take the advice or not and then suffer the consequences and hire a litigation lawyer.

I’m passionate about equal opportunities for all Papua New Guineans. I believe regardless of religion, location, political affiliation or personal view, everyone should be given the same opportunities. This was the reason why Lucy Sabo-Kelis, Hannah-Jan Rangou and I came up with the Legal Training Project for Namatanai, which was funded by PNG Australia Alumni Association through its grant program.

Our people in Namatanai have had issues with our court house and police station. They have next to no confidence in the local peace officers and police. Our court house has just reopened in March this year after years of closure. Logging companies are causing environmental damage in Central New Ireland so our people need to be made aware of their rights.

By running these trainings, we are educating our people.

For those interested in becoming lawyers, study hard and get good grades.

The entry GPA at Law School might be, for example, 3.4, but most times the quota is filled before 3.4 so a lot miss out.

If you can't get into the Bachelor of Law program, you can apply for the Diploma in Prosecutions program, finish it, work two years then go back to do two more years of the Bachelor of Law program. Out in the field, some people are good academically and others are good in practice but only an exceptional few are good in both.


Carmella Gware