The IFS Challenger Champion community’s most recent addition is Imelda Harsono, Director of Technology and Compliance at PT Aneka Gas Industri, Indonesia’s first industrial gas company and part of the Samator Group.
Learning by doing
After graduating from university in 2003, Imelda joined the family business to learn the ropes. Except for a brief stint at Goldman-Sachs in Singapore, Imelda has been working in various areas of PT Samator for the past 17 years, combining her work with master’s degree studies in Edinburgh and, currently, Harvard Business School.
“During my formative years at the company, I immersed myself in the mechanics of its operations. I was tasked with learning as much as possible about the company’s business processes, including procurement, asset management, IT, human resources, and export and import. The reason for this was not just to understand the business as it currently runs, but to understand how it could be developed to run even better.”
Today, Imelda holds the position of Director of Technology and Compliance, overseeing five divisions: procurement, asset management, IT, business processes, and LGRC (legal, governance, risk, and compliance).
“My current role is to implement business transformation strategies to make sure we are using the right technology to ensure we are operating at maximum efficiency. Thanks to the comprehensive understanding of the business that I cultivated during my early years, I’m now in a position and well-equipped to identify problems and deploy intelligent solutions.”
Fear and courage in the digital era
Having worked for almost 20 years in a male-dominated industry, Imelda has formed a work/life philosophy that revolves around constant learning, competitiveness, and courage.
“I am always trying to become a better person, better leader, and a better entrepreneur. I have learned that persistency, consistency, and the relentless pursuit of operational excellence are essential traits for surviving the industry 4.0 revolution. Given the rapid change in technology and the forces unleashed by decades of globalization, I firmly believe that companies must innovate, or they will die.”
“You cannot innovate if your company is welded to tradition and glued to a fear of trying new things. This is where courage and leadership are essential. Many companies talk about innovation, but when it comes to doing what it takes, they are very often hampered by fear of moving outside the comfort of tradition. Things that worked in the past are no longer enough to succeed in the modern and digital era, which is more competitive and unforgiving than previous ones.”
Embracing the challenge of disruption
Working in a highly traditional industry where change does not happen quickly, anyone looking to effect real change needs to be comfortable in the dual role of challenger and disruptor.
“To me, being a challenger means always keeping a lookout for ways to improve. It is much easier to stay the same than to truly challenge the status quo. But just like everything else in life: it is hard-won achievements that are the most rewarding.”
The mindset that Imelda and her team is cultivating across the business is that disruption does not need to be seen as something negative. Once people see for themselves how technology can actually make things easier for them and provide them with new opportunities to grow and contribute, they begin to embrace the disruption.
“The challenge is to make everyone want to be a challenger; and to show them that the future is something that should be embraced, not feared, despite uncertainty.”
Obsession with excellence
By selecting a comprehensive enterprise software suite from IFS, Imelda and PT Samator have challenged themselves to leaving no stone unturned when it comes to business process efficiency and integration.
“There are a lot of people out there who know more about technology and digital transformation than I do. I think it’s important for people to know that with hard work, dedication, and surrounding yourself with talent, anyone can challenge the status quo and make themselves and their companies better.”
Citing Jeff Bezos and Amazon as key sources of inspiration, Imelda sees the obsession with operational excellence as the driving force of any challenger.
“I’ve visited Amazon’s fulfillment center and there is no process going on in there that is not painstakingly thought out—every second matters, every process matters. By investing in virtually every capability in the IFS suite, Samator has adopted a similar stance. We are 100 percent dedicated to building a truly modern and integrated enterprise solution that empowers our people, optimizes our processes and technologies. Even though it is a major challenge for the business, the rewards will be even greater.”
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