Past, Present and Future

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Tigor Siahaan, Anies Baswedan and Irwan Danny Mussry. Picture: Agung Wibowo

In honour of our fifth birthday, we took a dip into our archives to talk to three influential Indonesians who have previously graced The Peak – Anies Baswedan, Tigor Siahaan and Irwan Danny Mussry – to talk about their career highlights, trends in their industries and the nation’s future.

It’s just after noon on a Saturday when The Peak arrives at Hotel Gran Mahakam in South Jakarta for this month’s cover photo shoot. Having frantically spent the morning chasing up a wardrobe, finalising the location and coordinating mismanaged times, walking into the penthouse suite to find Paramadina University rector Anies Baswedan and Citibank Indonesia’s chief country officer, Tigor Siahaan, relaxed and sitting in the lounge room catching up over coffee is a comforting sight.

In between juggling the trio’s busy schedules – including finding a mutual time when they were all in the country – pulling together this month’s cover was a miracle, and a new challenge. While their weekends are usually reserved for downtime with family – the old friends had graciously spared some of their precious time and were unfazed by the last-minute changes – even agreeing to switch out of their usual attire for our black tie dress code in the middle of the day (Irwan Danny Mussry, the head of Time International, turned up to his shoot sporting his formal wear, ready to go).

Despite the trio hailing from different industries – education, banking and luxury retail – Anies, Tigor and Irwan all found common ground when it came to talking about empowering Indonesians. As Anies, the founder of Indonesia Mengajar – an initiative that sends recent graduates to remote villages to teach – simply put it, the future of Indonesia lies within our people.

“Improving the quality of human capital is key,” explains Anies, the deputy chief of staff in president-elect Joko Widodo’s transition office, who had only just returned from China for a World Economic Forum event the day before the shoot. “The number one asset of this republic is the people. Yes, we don’t have a lot of natural resources but it’s minimal in terms of added value to us if the human capital is not developed.”

As the first Indonesian to serve as a Citibank country head here, Tigor says it’s time for more Indonesians to have a much broader perspective in what they can do in their career, adding that he hoped he wasn’t the last Indonesian to hold his position.

“Today’s Indonesians study abroad and they have actually discovered out there that there are opportunities here in Indonesia and they come back,” he says, adding that he too was posted abroad before coming back to work in the archipelago, where he admits the “opportunities are huge”.

“There are a lot more Indonesians in the country right now who are a lot more broader in their thinking… they want to be a leader in their organisation. And there are Indonesians in good positions abroad, who might want to come back because they realise the opportunities here. Hopefully, there will be a lot more people doing this,” he added.

For Irwan, the president and founder of Time International, the businessman has set his sights on strengthening the luxury company’s learning and development area to foster the next generation of entrepreneurs within the business. The cheerful executive, who launched his company with his cousin more than 30 years ago, says his only regret is that he wishes he could have fast-tracked this division a lot earlier.

“We are continuing to look at talents and people interested in this business to grow with in that sense,” he explains, adding that they had allocated a big budget to support this unit. “We really want to train and share with the younger generations because this is what is really lacking.”

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