Tell us about yourself.
My name is Veronika Linardi and I’m the CEO of Qareer Group Asia.
What got you into entrepreneurship? When did the entrepreneur bug bite you?
I returned from America to help with my family’s manufacturing business. I didn’t enjoy it so much. However, my brothers were interested and succeeding in it. Hence, I felt a freedom to find another career.
I looked at work within multinational companies in Hong Kong and Singapore, but my parents really wanted me to be close by. I therefore joined an industrial conglomerate to do strategic planning in Jakarta. It was a great learning opportunity for me, giving me a helicopter view of diverse industries. Working for Charoen Pokphand, I was exposed to diverse fields, including chicken feed, shrimp farms and telecommunications. It was – such a variety! However, I felt I should pursue something related to my passion: people.
I decided to venture out on my own, leveraging my core competency: connecting good people with corporate organizations, a.k.a. headhunting.
My parents didn’t approve initially; like most Indonesian parents, they wanted me to settle down young. They suggested I help my brother with his new business. I forged on alone. I flourished! Now, my parents are very proud of me.
How did you find the courage to start a business as a young person?
I was lucky to have the family business to fall back on. I was also young and still living at home. Initially, there wasn’t a stable income, but as my reputation grew, satisfied clients gave me more business. It’s all about managing expectations; under-selling and over-delivering – so people trust me.
What does success mean to you?
I define success by knowing oneself and measuring up against my own benchmarks – not other people’s. Needs evolve over time, but we’re only in competition with ourselves. We should always be thankful and happy about how far we have come.
Success is to be grateful for what we have and yet, always, see ourselves as a work in progress. Success is to be bold, to expand beyond our boundaries and create our very own legacy.
Do you have any role models?
My mother is a hard worker. When she was young, she had to overcame a lot of discrimination related to gender and race to become a Doctor. Then when I went to school in Singapore, she gave up her ambition and career to take care of us (her children). How Great a Mother’s Love is!
My dad was a self-learner. Unlike my mom who always stayed in school and received scholarships throughout her life, whereas my dad learnt everything on his own. My dad taught himself Mandarin and other Chinese dialects. His ever curious and persevering spirit propels me to continuously improve.
What are your passions?
I love helping people. Through headhunting, I am able to match jobs with people and their passions. It’s rewarding because I get a sense of achievement for recommending talent to flourish in the careers they love. My friends often tease me, calling me a matchmaker (playing cupid for both careers and love life), and I made a career out of it!
I also love food. Good food and great company always brings family and friends together!
Have you faced any obstacle or challenge because of your gender?
I grew up with two brothers who treated me like an equal, so I had to be creative and resourceful to get things done. I feel I’ve been raised in a way that considers men and women as complementary in many ways and have respective duties and responsibilities.
How is Indonesia in terms of gender progressivity in the workplace?
In Asia especially, there are expectations about women. In Indonesia, despite women being seen as primary caregivers in the family context, there are many women leaders heralding business organizations. I also belong to an entrepreneurial organization where women account for 40% of the membership. In other countries, there may not be a single female member.
You can still flourish in Indonesia because we have the right support network: our parents, in-laws — even nannies here are affordable compared to other countries. In addition, having had a female President really makes a difference.
As a woman in Indonesia, people tell you to start small. How did you dream big?
You have to start somewhere, but you must reverse engineer. Think baby steps on how you can grow. I started with Linardi Associates, my headhunting agency. Over time, my contact base grew. Satisfied clients became friends; some also became investors. Today, we connect millions of professionals to the careers of their dreams.
I believe that you are first and foremost accountable to yourself. There are responsibilities and priorities but you can always go back to your dream. Women who have children can still return to work and flourish in their careers.
Can you share some of the milestones that your company has achieved?
The first was establishing Qerja.com, which improves transparency in workplace and reduced the taboo of discussing salaries. From my headhunting days, I knew that many fresh graduates felt a sense of urgency to quickly secure their first job. However, many have little understanding of their strengths and ambition hence often felt dissatisfied because their expectation of first job is far away from the reality of their job.
Another milestone was when we launched Jobs.id, securing Series A funding from SB ISAT Fund. And very recently acquired Karir.com and secured our Series B funding from Emtek group.
Wealth can mean so many things: money, fame, knowledge…. What does it mean to you?
Money is important as a means of exchange to help us enjoy life, the conveniences money can buy as well as to utilize these resources as a means to further our end goals. Wealth means peace at heart and contentment. Some of my team members buy their families budget trips overseas, sharing what they have with their loved ones. I feel that having such purity in your heart is the basis of being wealthy.
Do you have any advice for young women who want to live their dreams?
Yes – follow your heart’s desires while you are young. Some things can wait, but I believe that at every stage of life, you can always choose to focus on your priorities, whatever they are.
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.