Sunday, September 22, 2013

Herman Suradja always emphasizes the importance of continuous alignment and communication to boost company growth.

The 48-year-old executive believes that when a leader's business understanding and strategy is also well received by his subordinates, they will perform better.

"In order for our system to work properly in the organization, employees must be motivated and aware so that their superiors don't have to constantly supervise them," said CEO of PT ABC President Indonesia (ABC PI).

That is why, he added, continuous alignment and communication was vital as the company has numerous employees from various backgrounds.

Herman was referring to the alignment concept presented by Fred Smith, chairman of FedEX, in which he says that an optimum situation is when strategy, employees, customers and the entire process collaborate with each other in an integrated way for company growth and profitability.

Management functions, such as planning, organization, staffing, directing and controlling, can only be perfect based on effective communication. "Alignment integrates the same understanding and reasons or purpose," commented the Parahyangan Catholic University civil engineering school graduate.

For Herman, both constant alignment and communication are important for the relationship between shareholders and employees.

Herman started his career as a marketing executive at an electronic company after graduating from the education program at Wijawiyata Manajemen Institut PPM (Jakarta). He then moved around between several companies with continuous promotions. His longest position was 10 years at an international pharmaceutical company where he started as a manager and was soon after promoted to trade sales director. He also got the opportunity to work at the company's branch in Malaysia for three years. "The work was complicated there. There were many assignments but they were extremely interesting," he recalled.

Ideally, all employees should understand how their work contributes to the company's business strategy and target. However, Herman admits that there are different preferences in each individual and as a leader, he simply cannot accommodate everything. Sometimes he has to direct according to his own preferences. Most importantly, whatever his decisions are, all employees must be aware of the reasons why he made those decisions so they are aligned 100 percent and can give their full support instead of waiting for the right time to offer criticism.

"We give them due recognition and also teach them to be more open and transparent so that they become more developed, mature and capable," stressed Herman, who answers directly to the corporate principal in Taiwan.

A leader should reach a level where success not only belongs to him or her but to all. A leader should not claim the achievements as purely his or hers. "The important thing is the end result, the way it is achieved, while who did it is secondary," said the father of three girls.

Alignment with shareholders is equally important to get their support and involvement in critical steps such as investment, changes in distribution style, team structure as well as branding, which are all discussed during quarterly or mid-year meetings.

Herman, who joined PT ABC President Indonesia in 2008, understands that communication does not always flow smoothly. Differences in views or opinions are healthy, he said, as it meant that there was passion. As each person has a different view, he can use those views to enrich his decisions.

"A leader only has to manage. He or she shouldn't waste energy on conflicts," explained Herman. Common goals must be found to solve conflicts through communication. In some cases, conflicts are allowed as it means there is a sense of belonging and involvement.

According to Herman, sales increases or maintenance is closely related to the capability of an organization.

Creating a pleasant and creative working atmosphere very much depends on the leader and as CEO; he always strives to give them such an atmosphere. "We want our employees to love their work and avoid work stress," said Herman.

Problems, however, always occur. Herman sometimes creates distance between himself and the problem. When disagreeing with shareholders or the owner, he chooses to go along with what they wish while observing the process. Time usually provided a lesson about the crux of their wishes, he said.

Previously as a manager and director, he had experienced sales targets that were not achieved and erroneous delivery. But he dealt with those issues by distancing himself from the problem so that he could see it clearly and find a solution.

He cited an example regarding Minimum Regional Wages (UMR), which were increased by 40 percent, exceeding his forecast of 20 percent.

"There was nothing to panic about," he said. As the company holds the principle of abiding by government regulations, Herman and his management team looked for a smart solution. Employee salaries were raised as per the new UMR but the company made operations more efficient by simplifying the business process and negotiated with suppliers about payment deadlines.

As the leader, Herman instilled good spirits in his employees. They were given flexible hours: eight hours in the office Monday-Thursday and seven hours on Friday's. However employees have to be available between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

"They have to be at the 9 o'clock meeting," said Herman. Herman is also flexible in emergency situations.He told them to work from home or cafes that had Wi-Fi, as all of them had been provided with laptops.

Apart from enhancing the effectiveness of each department, Herman also revamped his company's organizational structure by increasing the role of human resources department.

"Each department should have a focus and puts forward merit and promotion based on achievements," he concluded.


Holds a position as CEO of PT ABC President Indonesia since 2008. Previously, he held managerial position in several companies, including PT Topindo Atlas Asia as managing director (2006), PT Mead Johnson Indonesia & Bristol Myers Squibb Sdn. Bhd as trade sales director (1997) and PT Beiersdorf Indonesia as deputy group product manager (1993).


Graduated from University of Parahyangan Civil Engineering School (1988)

Source: Thejakartapost

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