PNG Local Business Coach focus: Mary Handen

We are excited to be partnering and building local capacity in our women-led business coaching program in PNG. Mary is one of our Local Business Coach (LBC) participants and we have loved working with her over these past few months. We caught up recently and want to share a bit about Mary.


Mary was born and raised in PNG. An Accountant by profession, Mary has 35 plus years of experience serving in and climbing the corporate ladder abroad and in PNG.

Currently an entrepreneur, she is the Managing Director of Jedjays Limited, a provider of clean and sustainable energy through distribution of home solar systems. She provides mentoring and coaching to women SMEs, sharing her experience and knowledge as part of her passion to impact lives of others.

We met Mary through her involvement with the PNG Women’s Business Resource Centre when we partnered to run the women’s growth accelerator, Guria. After a very successful career and raising children, Mary retired but had continued to build businesses and has found a love of coaching women around personal development and mindset change. When the TDi LBC program came up, Mary was keen to get involved. She shares,

‘My love for seeing and being part of change in someone’s life, my own changes to my business after attending the [Guria] program by TDI/CIPE/PNGWRC, and loving the TDi style of facilitating the training. I had no hesitation when I knew TDi will be involved in the LBC program.’

Mary’s strengths as a coach are firstly her love and passion to become part of helping someone change and progress in their life. She builds trust and rapport through her ability to hold space for people, listen well and make them feel comfortable to be fully present.

Mary has a vast knowledge and experience to draw from, balanced with an open mind, and what she calls a ‘learning spirit’.

Mary is motivated to coach other businesswomen because of her sense of purpose in impacting the lives of others. She focuses on women, as she sees that they tend to be very open to change and understands that when a woman experiences positive change, there’s a bigger impact that flows on to her whole family.

When asked what Mary hopes for, she replied that there were two things she dreams to see:

    1. increase the number of women in doing businesses and becoming more successful and become equal partners to economically contribute to family, community, the different industry sectors, and country as a whole.
    2. there is change/shift in women status and how women are viewed.

When asked what her main learning or insights have been so far, Mary shared that she has learned,

‘That being a Coach is not about giving loads of advice, but rather a facilitator in assisting the client to remove blockages to their thinking. It’s about helping them along to find a better solution to progress their business, so they feel they own the change that has happened.’

Mary feels that this is important to achieve a good outcome, where the client is empowered as they identify their own way forward and feel that nothing can stop them.

We asked Mary what she thought of the program so far, what she has enjoyed as well as found the most challenging. She shares,

‘The most enjoyable thing about the program is the camaraderie of the whole team and the positive energy that is always present with much respect for each other.’

Mary also enjoys observing the different styles of the TDi coaches, which helps her to define her own style. She’s enjoyed the training where she’s gained a good understanding of ideas, concepts, and a chance to reflect on the sessions together.

The most challenging part has been learning to hold back on giving advice, but instead staying curious and asking the hard questions to help the client come up with the answers.

We asked Mary what life is like when she’s not working.

Mary loves spending time with her children and grandchildren. She also has many passions that are a good mix of relaxing and exciting such as travel, hiking, reaching, personal development and always learning new things.

Her idea of a perfect day would start before dawn with prayer, meditation, reading and journaling. It would be seeing the sunrise during a walk, having a good mix of work and relaxation throughout the day, then spending the evening with her children and their families. Sounds pretty good to us!

We thank Mary for her involvement in the LBC program and we’re excited to watch as she impacts many women now, and into the future.

About the program

TDi are working with WBRC to recruit and coach a total of 100 women-led SMEs (or deliver 800 hours of coaching) over four rounds of coaching from May through to December, with an average of 200 hours of coaching per round. Participating businesses are selected from across the nation and across all sectors, based on a specific selection criterion.

In parallel, the Local Business Coach (LBC) advanced development program trains four (4) PNG national businesswomen to become high quality business coaches. LBCs receive training and practical development over the life of the program (through until December) and are integral to the delivery of the SME coaching.

The coaching program aims to provide business and mindset coaching to improve the ability of PNG businesswomen to adapt to a new COVID normal, navigate uncertainty and reduce their stress. The program has been designed to address both mindset and technical aspects of business management, requiring skilful emotional support and strategic business advice.

The program is supported by the Australian Government through the PNG-Australia Partnership.

You can read more about it here:

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