An Unexpected Path


Sutanto Hartono. Picture: Suhadi

Sutanto Hartono never envisioned that he would find success working within creative industries, but a change of heart early on in his career saw the president director of Elang Mahkota Teknologi take a leap of faith to follow an unknown path.

If Sutanto hartono could go back in time and give his younger self one piece of advice, he would let himself know that, “plans don’t always work out”.

Growing up, his sights were set on a path of science to become a chemical engineer, just like his older brother.

After graduating from high school in Yogyakarta, Sutanto undertook a science degree in the United States, before he picked up his first job working in product development at Procter and Gamble Indonesia.

But during his three-year stint with the company, Sutanto realised that life as a chemical engineer wasn’t all that he had hoped for. Instead of thriving on the technical side of product development, he discovered the aspect that he loved the most was leading the project.

With that in mind, he quit his job, packed up his bags and returned to the United States to take up a Masters of Business administration in California. When Sutanto stopped to really think about what he wanted to do upon finishing his MBa, it was a conversation between himself and one of the directors at P&G that stuck in his memory.

“Before I left, a director came up to me and said ‘what’s your career aspiration?’” Sutanto recalls. His response was simple: “I want to be the boss. I want to be the general manager of a company.”

While the director motioned that it was a good goal, he reiterated that Sutanto needed to be more specific and had to start with a discipline that he would be interested to pursue.
So he decided to take on a position at a consulting company — a role he wasn’t initially interested in.

It was here that a career curve ball was thrown at Sutanto. An offer came along for him to help set up Sony Music in Indonesia — a job that Sutanto didn’t really think much of.

“When I first heard the offer, I kind of dismissed the idea as I considered myself to be more of the serious type,” he says.

But he soon found out that it was in fact a “serious” job.

After meeting with the president of Sony Music International in New York City for his final interview, Sutanto was impressed with the director’s background — he was an ex-partner of price Waterhouse (before the company merged with Coopers and Lybrand) — and figured that this was the kind of environment that he could see himself in.

“I had the opportunity to stand up in this company. It was completely unplanned,” Sutanto explains.

And so a new career path was laid out for Sutanto.

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