The Right Ingredients: 10 Essential Characteristics of a BAMer

Interview with Peter Shaukat – Part 2

With 15 years of experience recruiting for, mentoring, and investing in BAM companies all over the Arab world and Asia, Peter has a unique perspective into Human Resources for business as mission. Continuing our interview, we asked him to share what he sees as essential characteristics of a BAMer.

Tell us more about those character traits or criteria that you identify and look for in a potential BAMer.

This is where the rubber hits the road. We have developed an interesting questionnaire for potential BAM practitioners which get to some of these criteria. Here are ten of the top ranking criteria in our experience:

1. Well-rounded thinking
We look for a genuine, thoughtful understanding of work as ministry, with the experience and capacity to grapple with ethical issues, able to live with a certain degree of ambiguity – i.e. they are not black and white in their thinking.

2. Servant leaders
BAM practitioners, fundamentally, are called by God to a ministry of exercising servant-leadership in the marketplace – the arena which is, in our time, the most influential, agenda-setting nexus of human activity.  Understanding how to be an agent of redemption and transformation in such a context – and bringing some tangible experience to the table in doing so – is indispensable. Read more

25 Years of Business in China: Interview on Tackling Corruption

Interview with Dwight Nordstrom

Dwight, you have been in business for 25 years in China, and not just any business, you’ve been involved in manufacturing in big industries, like chemicals and telecommunications, regularly importing supplies and exporting products. How big has the issue of corruption been?

Well let me just start by saying: This is real! This is not hypothetical stuff, it’s a big issue for us. I would say I have to deal with about 25 cases a year of substantial corruption-related situations. To put that in perspective with other common issues faced by businesses, in last 20 years, across our operations of about 5000 people in Asia, I have had zero illegal drug issues, a couple of alcohol related issues, I have had two sexual harassment issues of a serious nature to deal with, but the major issue by a long way is corruption which I have had to deal with at least twice a month. Corruption is a big issue.

Can you give us an example where you’ve had to deal with someone trying to bribe you?

We’ve had situations where we’ve lost business over refusing to pay a bribe. We had a speciality chemical and the representative in a wholly-owned German company asked for a 5% kickback, with 1% going into a personal account. That was a million dollar plus account per year and I don’t even know now six years later if we’ve ever recovered the value of the account. Read more

Business as Mission: The Global Movement Today

Mats Tunehag has been speaking, writing and convening on business as mission for nearly 20 years. When he visited The BAM Review office recently, we asked him a few questions about the business as mission movement.

Mats, what have you seen changing in business as mission in the last 15-20 years?

We are seeing a reawakening of what it means to be a Christian in business in our day and age. There has been remarkable growth of people getting engaged in doing business for God and the common good. If we take a 15 year time span, there are things we have today that didn’t exist 15 years ago. Now, we have a greater common understanding globally of this idea that we call ‘business as mission’. There are significant common denominators in our understanding, even though terminology may vary from group to group.

15 years ago when you mentioned business as mission, there were many questions about ‘What is that?’, ‘Is this something we want to get involved in?’. Today you can travel to almost any country and bump into people who have heard of, or are talking about, or practicing, business as mission. That is one of the major changes globally. Read more

Franchising and Business as Mission: Expert Panel

We asked a panel of three experts with firsthand experience to give us their perspective on business as mission and franchising. Read panel bios below.

1. What are some of the opportunities you see in using a franchising approach in a business as mission context?

John: Franchising thrives by tapping into local knowledge and connections, combining them with the franchise operations system to achieve success.  Compared to setting up a wholly-owned business, franchising offers a faster rate of expansion, with a lower business risk, whilst maintaining a good amount of control from the franchisor’s (the brand/concept owner’s) point of view.

As a ‘BAM’ tool, franchising taps the knowledge and connections of the locals in the field.  This means the ‘locals’ can be blessed by being gainfully employed, whether self-employed or company employed, and earning a livelihood from the labour of their hands.  A franchise that does not require a large amount of capital investment, or does not have a complex and huge scale of operation, can be easily replicated across the mission field, penetrating even small towns or large villages.  Where the franchisee is a believer, the business can be used as forum for discipling that goes beyond preaching and teaching, but into modeling a transformed lifestyle in the workplace.  I can visualise food businesses such as kiosks or small stores and small retail outlets as possible franchise concepts in a BAM context.

Read more

Interview with BAM Author Neal Johnson

Neal — you have done all sorts of things in your life, including banking, business, diplomacy and practicing law internationally and in the US, but now you are an academic — what motivates you?

Clearly the thing that motivates me now and has for the past 20 years is my passion for Christ in the marketplace, especially business as mission.  Looking back on my earlier life, I would have given anything if someone had taken me aside and said ‘Neal, have you heard about business as mission? Do you know you can do both business and mission—you don’t have to choose between them—that God is actually calling you to do both?’  So many people of my generation didn’t find that out until they were already well into their careers or toward the end of them.

I have a passion for working with business students now because of the students who say ‘I love business, I love mission, but can I do both?’  I really want them to be able to understand at the start of their career that they can in fact do both and also to show them how they can do that.

Your book “Business as Mission” is a unique BAM book, what made you feel this particular book was needed?

There are a lot of great books on business as mission and many more on faith at work. They are excellent books, but there are not many that really address ‘how to do it’.  As I have presented the concept of business as mission at conferences, people get excited and ask ‘What do I do now? I love the concept, I want to do it, but how do I do it?’ This book attempts to address that. Read more

Embracing the Call to Business

An Interview with Joseph Vijayam

Joseph Vijayam has had many years to think about how to integrate his Christian faith with his business life. He started Olive Technology in 1996 with a vision to support himself to do ministry, much like the Apostle Paul did when he made tents. Since then, Joseph’s understanding of ‘mission’ has developed to embrace ‘business as mission’. He describes this process as a journey, a voyage of discovering what it means to glorify God through his business life. I got the chance to talk to Joseph as he shared some of his reflections on being Kingdom-minded in business and the role of Christian business people in bringing transformation to India.

What are you most passionate about as you think about business as mission and your company today?

Well I am obviously excited about what we are doing through Olive as a company and how our own business is growing. But these days I am also thinking more and more about how we can get greater numbers of business as mission efforts started in India and around the world. I am focusing more of my energies on being a catalyst for multiplying business as mission enterprises.

If we are to see growth, I think we need to help Christian business owners understand the impact they could have, to become more Kingdom-minded in their business life. We also need to mobilize others to initiate new business as mission enterprises of every shape and size. Although of course we do need large business as mission companies, I personally think that any size of company can make an impact. Read more