Much of the credit for Indonesia’s recent investment boom has gone to Gita Wirjawan, the chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM). But he is not a one-man band. He requires a team behind the scenes to help write his speeches and keep him briefed.
And that’s where Sati Rasuanto comes in. She is one of the three members of the BKPM’s expert staff, traveling the country and the world to help promote Indonesia. Today, she tells us about her work, gets to bang the drum for Indonesia and lets us know why jet lag is no longer a problem.
Tell us a little bit about your job?
I’m a member of the Investment Coordinating Board chief’s expert staff. We support Pak Gita in his four main roles: managing the BKPM, working on investment climate issues, being a member of the cabinet and ensuring that he keeps up with his daily schedule. But ultimately, our task is to help bring foreign investment into Indonesia.
How did you get started in this line of work?
Before the BKPM, I worked for the World Bank, as a special staff member to the director. It’s all a bit different because back then I worked for an institution that advises the government, but now I advise the government directly.
How does it feel to have a job that requires you to commit yourself to the government?
It feels great to play a role in deciding how this country is going to be in the future. It requires commitment. We have to think, ‘If not us, then who else will make this country better and steer it in the right direction.’ The most challenging aspect of the job is that we’re practically on standby mode 24/7.
How do you feel the current government is performing?
I think it needs to improve its teamwork, especially when it comes to major decisions like infrastructure projects. Such projects require decisions from multiple stakeholders — the government, the private sector and local people. The opinions of all these people are required to make sure the project benefits all parties. But the government doesn’t appear to have a mechanism to make the big decisions swiftly and collectively. Perhaps that’s why a lot of projects are developing slowly.
Tell us some of the challenges you face in your work?
My job requires me to be able to multitask. I have to make sure that Pak Gita keeps to his schedule. For example, when he gets invited to a musical event, I have to ensure that he still has the opportunity to talk to the investors while he’s there. And when he is going to speak in public, I must be aware of the issues he needs to raise.
Have you ever gotten tired of your job?
Not really, because I’m so passionate about my job. Occasionally, I feel that my hectic schedule doesn’t leave me enough time to spend with my family. What’s interesting is that, as the constant traveling and the busy workload have become a part of my job, I’ve realized that jet lag is never an issue anymore.
So your job involves a lot of traveling?
Yeah, the team takes turns to accompany Pak Gita on his trips abroad and meetings with foreign investors. We don’t just travel abroad, though, we also go on visits around Indonesia to show the investment potential of different areas to foreign investors. In any month, we might go on up to three overseas trips, and also make multiple trips to Indonesia’s regions.
Which part of Indonesia does the BKPM recommend to investors then?
Generally, it encourages investors to look outside Jakarta. Why? Because the capital is relatively well developed already and also because there are many regions with great potential, which if developed would unlock huge value, not just for the investors but also for the local people. Indonesia needs to start decentralizing its development in order to sustain its growth.
If you were a foreign investor, would you invest in Indonesia?
I would. Everybody agrees that Indonesia’s economy is strong and constantly improving. It really is an attractive market to invest in. Sectors such as infrastructure and retail have huge potential, plus there are abundant natural resources here. There are so many opportunities, so we at the BKPM are not exaggerating here [laughs]. That’s why we’re urging investors to invest, before they miss out on a golden opportunity.
What’s your most memorable experience with the BKPM?
I’ve had multiple experiences, like why you see foreign investors who didn’t know anything about Indonesia prior to meeting you, then they suddenly consider investing here. Or when you see people changing their minds about Indonesia for the better. I’ve realized that many people have misperceptions about our country. That’s down to the foreign media because it tends to focus on the negative things that occur here.
What’s your personal opinion of Pak Gita?
He’s given the board a new direction because he came from the private sector. He understands more about the ins and outs of the private sector than most in the cabinet.
What do you do for fun when you have free time?
I practice singing once a week. I’m a member of the Jakarta International Community Choir. We sing songs from the “Glee” TV series and perform concerts several times a year.