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.

3. Devotional life
We seek out those with a demonstrated ability to nurture their own devotional life through the Word and prayer.  A close walk with God, and taking responsibility for one’s spiritual formation both individually and within the context of community is essential not only to survival, but to “thrival”, a unique mixture of faithfulness and fruitfulness to the greater glory of God.

4. High risk-tolerance
We look for a genuine, high risk-tolerance as they live out an incarnational presence on the ground.  In a day when the culture of the age is to insulate, isolate and insure ourselves against suffering and harm, the counter-culture of the Kingdom is to carry our cross daily – this is not just a “spiritual” thing, but touches upon the daily conduct of business.

5. Self-awareness in terms of personal attributes
We are looking for those that are aware of, and humbly able to recognise their combination of skills, talents, experience (linking formal education with real life experience) and spiritual giftings and practice, since both are needed to do BAM well.

6. Emotional intelligence
We look for those who are relationally adept and have good EQ (emotional quotient), regardless of what their Myers-Briggs, DISC, or other psychometric categories might suggest.  These two characteristics (temperament shaped by fruitful formation through abiding in the Vine) are non-negotiable in cross-cultural settings.

7. Openness and intentionality towards missional and cultural preparation
We are working with BAM companies in the majority Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist world – so this shapes the Christ-centred, missiological perspective, passions and preparedness of any potential candidate. We look for adequate, appropriate preparation for the spiritual and cultural context into which they are planning to proceed, combined with a curious learner’s heart for in situ observation and assimilation. Language and culture acquisition are pretty fundamental realities to doing business well, making friends and influencing people. (This needs to be balanced in many situations with the realisation that English may in fact be the lingua franca, so not always is the standard language acquisition template appropriate.) Similarly, understanding the deep worldview of the particular religious context is essential – although, again, some traditional mission approaches prepare in categories that the business world finds irrelevant, or missing altogether. Keep in mind that the BAMer’s cultural contexts may quite likely include the potential diversity of other expats who might be involved in the business, and not just ‘the nationals’.

8. Team-oriented
We also look for a balanced view of strategic collaboration and a communitarian, team-oriented approach to mission (and business, for that matter). This balanced view should render them open to the concept of being sent and resourced in a variety of ways for wholistic impact, and genuinely engaged in accountable relationships both ‘at home’ and ‘in the field’.

9. Realistic financial expectations
We are working with BAM companies in generally less-affluent contexts, so this shapes the financial compensation realities and therefore the expectations of a potential candidate. We look for realistic expectations about and appropriate personal circumstances in regards to finance. We strongly recommend that, generally, the candidate should understand and be prepared to work with the Holy Spirit in assembling the full package of necessary and sufficient financial resourcing – all of which, whatever the source, comes from Him. This can include that which God provides through like-minded Christians, and/or, through their own financial means already or in other ways provided by God.

10. Longer term availability
We look at sufficient availability. Unless it is a very specific task oriented role which might indeed be shorter term, most BAM companies would be looking for a minimum of six months; one year is better, and within two years real value can be added to the company or it becomes mutually clear that it’s not a good ongoing fit. Ideally though there would be a commitment for more than two years since ‘longer is generally preferred’. This is both because companies need good, stable talent, and because transformational impact and potential comes with deeper relationships.

Then depending on the individual’s marital and family status, consideration needs to be given to a whole range of spiritual and practical issues. In practical terms, age, ethnicity, gender, or even health may come into play as a criteria. These are important to process as we assess reality in which they will find themselves attempting effective BAM.

These would be the key ones, with others being relevant of course.


With thanks to Peter Shaukat, in conversation with Jo Plummer, Editor of The BAM Review

Read Part 1 of the interview What Makes a BAMer? Identifying and Deploying the Right People for BAM Companies

Peter Shaukat has lived and worked in a professional and business capacity for over 30 years throughout Asia, Europe, the Middle East, South and North America and is a pioneer in the business as mission movement. He currently consults on business as mission all over the world and is the CEO of a global investment fund for BAM enterprise in the Arab world and Asia.