Sunday, November 11, 2007


In every government, corporate organisations, private firms, society and family there are always people working tirelessly behind the scene. While it is human nature to only look at the show from the main stage, there are people behind the scene who help make a show a success.

Women are often among people behind the scene. The saying behind every successful man is a hardworking women' can aptly describe Bulou Lavenia Yavala, a woman who has grown from being a manual exchange operator on an island to become a team leader at Telecom Fiji Limited.

She started her career with the then Post Telegraph Department in the early 1970's. Bulou La as she is commonly referred to by her workmates, ended her 35 years of service with the company on Thursday.

And if there was a worker in the company who had gone through the evolving image of Fiji's first telecommunication company, it would have to be Bulou La. She hails from the chiefly family of Tavuki in Kadavu and is also a vasu of the same village which makes her a strong blooded kai Kadavu.

Dressed in a traditional sulu Jiaba with the traditional bui ni ga hair style, Bulou La looked her best on her last day at the office. "I started my training here in Suva as a manual exchange operator and was later transferred to Vunisea in Kadavu," she said.

"At Kadavu I worked under Peni Mau who was then looking after the Post Telegraph exchange on the island. She said her experience on the island was one she cherished, not only because she was back at her roots but because she started her career serving her people.

From the southern island of Kadavu, Bulou La was transferred to Lautoka in 1977. At the Sugar City she worked for six years before coming back to where it all started.

During her time with Telecom, she said she had seen a lot of changes not only in the company but also in the development of telecommunication. "When I started, the company was known as the Post and Telegraph Department.

"This was later changed to Post and Telecom Fiji and after a while it was decided the name would again be changed to Fiji Post and Telecom Limited," she said. "From that it was again changed after Post became a separate company, the new name became Telecom Fiji Limited and that name stands today.

She said during her years with the company she served under five different bosses. "When I first started what is now known as the chief executive officer was known as the permanent secretary and it was Mr John Miles who was at the helm of leadership.

"After Mr Miles, Mr John Manikam took over," she said. Bulou La said it was when Emori Naqova took over that the permanent secretary title was changed to managing director. "After Mr Naqova, Winston Thompson came in and after holding the managing director's position for some time it was decided that he would be known as the chief executive officer.

"This position is now being held by Taito Tabaleka," she said. Bulou La said her days with the company was one that has taught her a lot of good things in life that she holds dear to her heart.
Bulou La is married to Samuela Yavala a household name in the field of athletics and they have a daughter, who is now in the United Kingdom.

With Mr Yavala being a man from Ra and Bulou La from Kadavu the traditional Tavua relationship between the two vanua was the essence of their love story.

While, Bulou La would not go further in to that, she admits that having Mr Yavala as her husband was the best thing in her life. For now, she is looking forward to doing something different in life while she enjoys her retirement.

Adapted from November 11th, 2007