As Group Executive Director of the Papua New Guinea-based Constantinou Group of Companies, George Constantinou wears several hats. Not only is he Managing Director of civil construction company Hebou Constructions, he is also Chief Executive Officer of the construction materials firm Monier Limited and Managing Director of New Zealand fast food chain, Texas Chicken.
When George first joined the family business, it was in a very different capacity as a Town and Regional Planner in the early 2000’s. “Over the years my workload and responsibilities increased,” he tells The CEO Magazine. Since becoming Group Executive Director two years ago, he has persued a transformation program across the organisation, building a more solid brand presence and standardised organisational structure.
The initial phase of this program will involve developing a new head office, improved internal systems and processes, improving operational efficiencies across the group and revised branding.
The most important part of this transformation, George says, is to reinforce the family values upon which the business was built, and to ensure those values become an integral part of the Group’s organisational culture. Those values revolve around providing quality, being at the forefront of innovation and being an employer of choice. The company was founded by George’s grandfather. “We’re third generation now and we have second and third generation employees within our group,” he says.
Constantinou Group of Companies’ employees have become part of the family, with loyalty working both ways. “The one thing I really wanted to impress upon the management team is those family values,” he stresses. “Without the employees, you really don’t have a business at the end of the day – you’ve got to look after your employees.”
George’s main focus at the moment is increasing IT awareness and improving supporting infrastructure within the Group. He aims to modernise and further professionalise all companies within the Group, utilising standard systems and processes across all businesses.
He understands that not all businesses within the Group have developed at the same pace, and that there are differences. Thus, a priority for George is to make improvements that ensure the companies within the Group are moving forward together in a positive direction.
That forward momentum is an important dynamic for George, who sees a lot of growth taking place across the Pacific, particularly in Papua New Guinea. It’s an upwards trajectory that he firmly intends to tap into.
“We’re focusing on internal and external relationship building, competing on new projects and diversification,” he says. “Typically, we’ve always focused on a particular sector. We have just opened it up a little bit further and increased our capabilities, our scope and we’re now moving forward.”
It’s a positive outlook that is helping to lift the Group from the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic, which weighed heavily owing to its significant investment in hotels across Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Islands. “That was a big challenge, but we got through it relatively unscathed,” he asserts.
In February 2022, The World Bank reported in its Papua New Guinea Economic Update that the extractive sector is projected to rebound, driven by the planned reopening of the Porgera gold mine. Extractive sector growth is projected to be the main driver of GDP growth in 2022 of four percent. High commodity prices should help to amplify this bounce-back.
George is optimistic about the years ahead. “Now, everything’s opening up and we’re seeing a bit of a turnaround, which is great. There is going to be medium to long-term growth in Papua New Guinea and we remain very committed to that market.”
As with so many companies around the world, however, supply chain woes continue to be an issue, with George highlighting the cost of freight, price escalation and management of timeframes as significant challenges. “That’s going to be the short to medium-term challenge,” he says. “Also, finding high quality employees and retaining them. That’s going to be a challenge for the immediate future.”
Despite these challenges, George remains focused on future growth. For him, that means ensuring all the right processes and accreditations are in place. “And just making sure that the employees understand those processes and follow them,” he explains. “It’s something I’m always wanting to focus on.”
The way the company interacts with the communities that it touches is another characteristic that sets it apart from the competition, George says. The Group has a dedicated arm called the Sir Theo Foundation, of which he is a Director, and oversees the foundation’s long-term support of the Port Moresby General Hospital and local literacy school program Buk Bilong Pikinini.“Wherever we operate, however we operate, we like to give back to the community in some way, shape or form. This sets us apart as a responsible company.”