Unleashing Indonesia


6 months ago, a program of McKinsey & Company called Young Leaders for Indonesia commenced. I have been honoured to be able to join the 6-month program involved by 60 participants from a variety of universities in Indonesia and Singapore. The program is very competitive, and I was surprised that I was accepted as one of the attendees. At the first day the forum, it was unsurprising for me to witness the brilliancy of other participants. All the intelligent wit, high-achieving nature, and aspiration to unleash Indonesia — or at least that’s how McKinsey label this passion.

The program was divided into three forums. Each of the forum contents a specific theme, and even more specific modules. Forum I was called “Lead Self”; Forum II was called “Lead Teams”; and Forum III was called “Lead Indonesia”. McKinsey & Company shared many modules, including the problem solving framework used by McKinsey & Company, integrity module, etc. They also invite high profile leaders, including Tri Mumpuni, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, Anies Baswedan, Sandiaga Uno, Aldi Haryopratomo, Pahala Mansury, and plenty others in each forum.

In all three forums, we got the chance to meet many leaders with similar profiles. A lot of them used to work in consulting or auditing firms, namely McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, or KPMG. Many of them used to work or are still working in banks or financial institutions like J.P. Morgan, Saratoga Capital, Goldman Sachs, or Bank Mandiri. Plenty of them left Indonesia to the U.S. to get an M.B.A. (or even PhD) degree, then come back to Indonesia to become Senior Vice President of something, Vice President of something, or CEO of something else. Some of them choose to work in the government, mostly in the President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight.

It was also not a surprise for me that most of us then became unsure about what we would like to do for the rest of our lives. A participant used to want to be a lecturer so bad; but then she changed her mind and applied for McKinsey entrance test. Another participant used to want to work in a social enterprise, but then changed his mind and want to work in a private equity instead. A lot of entrepreneurs-to-be shifted directions to be consultants; and vice versa.

And then, I realized, for some moments, I sensed that what the “leaders” have said, no matter how high his or her level is in the company or institution, is usually the same with what my mother and father said, or with what my friends said about life. Even without such experience like what those ‘leaders’ possess, they still say similar things.

I felt like I have met many younger leaders who are as inspiring. The people who did not have to go overseas to say that they have achieved something in their lives. The people who just enjoy what they do. The people who have the guts to do what they love–regardless what other people say about it. Regardless of how much money they make, or how many years have they served in the position.

It was the moment that I began to understand, thoroughly, that: no, you don’t have to be a CEO of something to be recognized as a leader. You don’t have to be a management consultant to prove to other people that you are smart, a hard worker, and a high achieving person. You don’t have to work in a certain delivery unit to contribute to your nation. You just have to do the things you love; and do it well. Do good deeds to others through your passion. Build the nation through what excites you–which probably make building the nation excites you too. That way, you’ll never get tired of doing things only to impress people. Instead, you’d be happy to be able to follow your heart and intuition.

A father is a leader too. So is a friend. Other people might not realize it, but we should. For every big changes should start within the smallest circle. A family. A relationship. A friendship. A group of friends. The smallest groups that eventually form a big nation populated by 240 million something of people.

If getting to know about a variety of industry and developing strategy is your passion, work in a management consulting firm. If helping people through medical consultations is your passion, be a doctor. If sharing your knowledge, giving learning materials, and delivering lectures is your passion, get a masters degree and be a lecturer. If making people laugh brings joy to yourself, be a stand-up comedian.

Nobody has the right to look down on you just because you are doing the things that you love. Even if to them it seems less prestigious. Being able to follow our passion is a luxury. Therefore, if we have the chance too, I think we should pursue it.

We don’t have to be under the spotlight to give an impact in other people’s lives; and we don’t have to do something just because we want other to recognize our existence. Our choice might not be the best one, but make sure we make the most honest choice; for a path chosen now is the path that we’ll get to go on for the rest of our lives.

Thank you, Young Leaders for Indonesia, for the lessons learned.

How would you like to unleash Indonesia?

7 thoughts on “Unleashing Indonesia

  1. rad

    I thoroughly agree. At the very least, people should walk their lives as in not interrupting others. At the very better, they could empower others with their respective means.

  2. I completely agree and have nothing to add—except for, when you are talented and blessed with opportunities but you don’t go for it, who would? I don’t think we should be sorry for people who changed their mind and aim higher than they used to. I also don’t think that they’re doing it for the sake of ‘being a leader’ (I don’t even know what that means until now :P)—but it’s a process of finding out what role you should be playing in unleashing Indonesia. One can be a lecturer for both romantic and ambitious reasons, one can also become a businessman for both romantic and ambitious reasons—or anything else. We just should not tell people what they should dream about.

    At the very least we can settle on: “Educated people should never be encouraged to be the driving force of change—they have the inherent obligation to do so.”

    Good luck for us all :)

  3. Alanda

    Afu: I LOVE how you put your name there! I had a hard time comprehending your comment, but as soon as I understood it, I completely agree. (In case you haven’t read the book I wrote — because it’s in Indonesian… :p,) I also wrote the same thing you wrote here about how dreams could usually change overtime and it’s completely normal. As Pak Haryanto said, life is non-linear and you can’t really guess what would happen next and how it could influence you. When that happens, I believe, the most successful people are those who trust and listen to their hearts instead of what other people say.

    • We’ll both probably be surprised with what we’re going to be 10, 20 years from now, and that’s the fun part :D Oh and I’ve actually read your book, Nda :P

  4. Well, I can’t agree more with what you said, Nda. It’s all about what we are doing for Indonesia. And last, follow your heart’s saying and it won’t take you to the wrong path (:

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