Tell us about yourself.
What is something unique about you?
Well, in high school, I learned to fly a single engine plane before I got my driver’s license (laughs). My late father liked to dare me to do things, so it’s always been, “Yeah, why not? Why should I be scared?” He wanted me to be adventurous and courageous, for which I’m thankful. He made sure I knew that, as a woman, I shouldn’t be weak.
How have you applied those childhood lessons to your business?
With business, you need to network and socialize. I’m an introvert, but I pushed myself. When I started Rumah Maroko there was no marketing budget, so I would attend every event to promote it, guerrilla marketing-style. I was Managing Director, marketing and PR, so yes, my upbringing helped me venture beyond my comfort zone.
How did you get started with entrepreneurship?
My parents, grandparents, and even my grand-aunt were all entrepreneurs. I jumped into entrepreneurship early. Some say that doing business in Indonesia is difficult, but there are pros and cons. Compared to Singapore, setting up a business here takes longer, but there are many gray areas where you can be creative.
What’s it like to be a female entrepreneur in Indonesia?
In more developed nations, people talk about ‘glass ceilings’. Being a female entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily mean starting a huge company that will IPO; a secretary might sell home- made cookies in the office; housewives might sell prayer outfits or mats. Indonesian people are creative; it’s in our nature to be entrepreneurial at many different levels.
What’s next for Rumah Maroko?
My goal is for it to be a timeless rather than a trendy venue. People ask, “What’s your five year exit plan?” That’s very common in MBA classes. But I want something that endures, like Bluebird, Teh Sosro, Indomie, etc. The founders didn’t just think, “Okay, we’ll build this for five, ten years and then we’re done.” I want my business to always exist. Of course, you have to reinvent yourself and be flexible to survive.
What career milestones are you most proud of?
Founding Rumah Maroko wasn’t just about starting a business – I wanted to create something meaningful. Since 2004, Rumah Maroko has become a sort of landmark in Jakarta, especially for people in the events industry. To me, that’s quite an accomplishment, because we’re not tied to any big commercial name.
What challenges have you faced? How did you overcome them?
Deciding to embark on this path was one of my first challenges. I was working in Australia, finding out what I was passionate about in business. I ended up having to choose between corporate life in Australia or returning home to pursue entrepreneurship – starting from zero.
I became an entrepreneur earlier than expected but, in life, nothing ever goes as planned. At this point, I don’t even bother to plan anymore (laughs).
Do you have any role models?
When I was at college, it was Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett Packard; one of the first female tech bosses. In Indonesia, I admire the lady ministers, Susi Pudjiastuti and Sri Mulyani. They do more and talk less. You can see many progressive results of their actions today.
I also looked up to my grand-aunt, who lived to almost 95. That’s amazing in itself. When she was younger, she started a family business: she was a woman, a mother, a provider, and a store owner. Afterwards, she became a teacher – even in her late 80s, she was still teaching. She never slowed down. To me, that’s very inspiring.
What do wealth and success mean to you?
There are more important things than just money: wealth is your health, your energy, your life experiences. You can be wealthy, in financial terms, but you may have no time to
travel and your loved ones feel neglected. To me, that’s a poor life – surrounded by material objects but not the substantial matters. Wealth is holistic. Having time for loved ones and to do the things you love is also important.
What advice would you share with fellow women entrepreneurs?
The key is just to be. Don’t be apologetic, saying, “Oh, I can’t do this because I’m a woman,” or, “I’m sorry I’m a daughter and not a son.” Just be you and don’t feel guilty. Be as you are.
There are no such things as crazy ideas. Some people still think that being CEO is a man’s role. Just be persistent and go for it.
Sometimes, rather than breaking through obstacles, it’s better to be flexible, like water, to go around them. The key is to move forward. Don’t be apologetic and always know who you are.
Wherever you are, be you.
UBS x ANGIN Women’s Spotlight is a special collaboration project between UBS Unique and ANGIN to celebrate strong Indonesian women who are exemplary leaders, unique changemakers, and role models. The project celebrates and reflects upon the individuals’ personal anecdote and professional journey and how they are challenging, reinventing and innovating their workplace in order to improve gender equality and be a force of change in their respective community and industry.