Robin Fleming is no Stanger to Papua New Guinea and the banking Industry in the Pacific. A well-respected figure in the executive circle hangs his boot after 42 years in the Banking Industry.
Originally, from Australia, Robin is a devout man in a deeply Christian country of which he has become a citizen. He lives in PNG with his wife Dora, and three children Cassandra, Liam and Joshua.
The Queensland-born is known by his trademark handlebar moustache and mullet hairstyle, but says less about him than it does about PNG’s business community.
He is known by many on the streets of PNG as the “BOSSMAN BILONG HAUSMANI” which simply means the “BANK BOSS”.
He may be described as a private person and one who recognizes the little things and is attentive to detail.
Interestingly, Robin never made it to a university. He only completed college at the St Laurence’s College in South Brisbane, Australia, a Christina Brother’s college.
In fact , he tells us of an interesting part of his life where he went out in search of finding himself and ended up homeless and eventually in the ‘land of the Unexpected’. “I wanted to run away from home that is why I came to PNG,” he retells.
He started with the commonwealth bank as a teller after college and worked his way up.
Robin now holds a MBA and a Master of Management from Charles Sturt University. In 2015, he was made a Companion of the Star of Melanesia (CSM) for his services to banking.
More recently, the University of Papua New Guinea School of Business and Public Policy has accorded him the honorary title of Professor for his contribution to the country and the communities.
Fleming first came to PNG from Brisbane in 1980 on secondment from Australia’s then government owned Commonwealth Bank, which sent staff to BSP’s state-owned forerunner Papua New Guinea Banking Corp (PNGBC), which Commonwealth once owned.
Then in his early 20s, Fleming says he had a choice of working at PNGBC or in a Commonwealth branch in outback Queensland.
“I decided that if I was going to do a hardship post, at least have something a bit more exciting and get paid a little bit more,” he recalls. “There was a sense of adventure.”
Over the years, he has garnered skills in technical and financial knowledge worthy to that of any tertiary level executive.
He has had adventures in spades in PNG. An early posting with PNGBC was to Bougainville, where separatist tensions in the 1980s escalated into a civil war, which has kept closed what was then the country’s biggest earner, the Panguna gold and copper mine, for 28 years.
Fleming has led BSP since 2013, taking over from Australian emerging market specialist Ian Clyne. Although he has been BSP boss for ten years, he has invested great values in the bank as well as the communities.
It has always been simple for him, treat everyone with respect, give everyone credit they deserve and recognise the business objectives especially in a developing economy.
“It isn’t all about profit, it is also about assisting communities and that resonates with staff because they often come from disadvantaged backgrounds, from village. I know what it’s like, the struggles they had to go through so that they can see that,” says Robin.
Before appointed as BSP Group CEO, he had been Deputy Group CEO and Chief Risk Officer since 2009.
Prior to that, he held senior executive roles as Chief Risk Officer, General Manager Corporate & International, and Head of Risk Management with BSP.
He has spent his entire working career as a banker for 42 year, 35 of which he spent working in PNG.
In the recent months before his exit, Robin made his final visits to each BSP branches around PNG, the Pacific and Aisa.
From the most remote branches of Telefomin in Western Province and Buin in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville to the towns and cities and the countries where BSP operates in, staff farewell him goodbye with gifts and gatherings.
He made his last stop in Kimbe with his wife Dora for the last time, visiting the place where it all began for him, his family and career.
It was an emotional moment for all, as both set foot once again on the street and the house where it all began for them.
Robin Fleming was officially farewelled by BSP Staff & Management today Thursday 29th December, 2022 at the Waigani Head Office , in Port Moresby, PNG.
Thank you Robin Fleming. You are certainly leaving behind one of the most difficult personality of a CEO for the staff, management and the industry. Thank you Champ! Your story will live on.