Bima Tjahja honed his leadership skills following a 12-year stint in Australia, and then through his experiences in leading Bukalapak as the VP of growth and data. He says that digital transformation has been a natural progression for Indonesia because, despite the community-driven, traditional cultures that prevail, the population has embraced technology and online services more than most APAC countries.
“Here, everything is going online. Indonesia has three times the number of Internet users than we have banking customers. So, even though there is an underserved population bank-wise, people simply use different internet services to manage things and get business done.
“Digital penetration is actually essential in Indonesia if you want to get ahead. If you do not penetrate the digital market, you are going to be way behind the competition because of it.”
The internet culture in Indonesia, he explains, is also vastly mobile, because of the way usage has evolved. “Whereas other countries have gone through the development phases of home Internet to business internet to mobile internet usage, Indonesia hasn't had these stages. Instead, users jumped straight to mobile, so our internet system is geared around that.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns and social distancing, has, says Tjahja, caused obvious problems in terms of working environments. But the situation has also taught his team - and others, a lot about human communication, which will be beneficial in the future.
“Obviously it's not perfect that we’re not able to communicate in the same way as before. There are downsides to missing out on direct communication because you can’t engage in the same way. But, in times like this, I think, communication and transparency are the keys. And I think we are all learning new skills in terms of speaking to each other via technology. And that’s a positive trend because it opens up more doors to us.”
Another aspect of the company culture that Tjahja pinpoints, is asynchronous communication. He explains, “Asynchronous communication is the philosophy to not have meetings, all the time, but instead to make sure that we document everything correctly and concisely and to then impart that knowledge very quickly. So, although not seeing colleagues every day hurts on the personal side, when it comes to the work side of things, the methodology can be more efficient.”
But most of all, Tjahja is a data man - and he believes all employees should be similarly empowered. “Ultimately, following the data solves most issues, because it’s logical and number-based. I think every company member should be involved in the data-reading process so that it's not just one small team within a company that is driving the decisions. At the end of the day, if data provides you with the information you need to make decisions that will increase demand for your products and grow your company, it should be part of the workplace culture. We are all in this together, after all.”
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