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Eka Sari Lorena: We Need A Sustainable System Of Public Transport
Friday, 06 March, 2015 | 15:34 WIB
Eka Sari Lorena: We Need A Sustainable System Of Public Transport

TEMPO.CO, JakartaIn an industry dominated by men, a sharp, straight-shooting woman has risen head and shoulders above her counterparts to become one of Indonesia's most successful business people. Eka Sari Lorena Soerbakti is chairperson of the Organization of Land Transport Owners (Organda), most probably because she happens to be the managing director of the companies Eka Sari Lorena Express and Eka Sari Lorena Logistics, the director of Eka Sari Lorena Transport and the deputy director of Eka Sari Lorena Holdings. She is also on the Research Committee for Transport and Logistics at the Yogyakarta-based Gadjah Mada University.

Eka's list of achievements is impressive. She was chosen as one of the 20 Most Powerful Women in Indonesia by Fortune magazine in 2013 and 2014, and one of the 10 Most Inspiring Women by Forbes magazine in 2014. But for all her success in the business world, Eka says her greatest achievement is her family. Being a devoted mother, wife and daughter are roles she values above all else. "I have a good family, that's my biggest success," Eka said.

Her childhood was not typical of a girl from North Sumatra, where she grew up. Instead of playing with dolls, Eka hung around her with her father, Gusti Terkelin Soerbakti, founder of the Lorena Group, in his Bogor workshop, learning about its operations. "I learned about crankshafts, engine overhauls and injection pumps." As she grew, so did her father's company. But when she entered the business, she discovered people would not take her seriously because she is a woman.

Rising to the top of her industry was the result of dedication. One of her proudest moments was when in 2010 she was elected chairperson of the Organda, an organisation with 1.5 million members. "It was an honor for me because it's very much a old-boys club," Eka told Tempo contributor Marlene Millot, in a special interview.

What did your father teach you about the business?

Father told me we should design the buses with feeling, making sure the designs were efficient and effective for our passengers, so they will want to travel with us not with others, or to ship their logistics with us rather than with other companies. You have to pay attention to detail and efficiency and be very practical.

What are the major challenges you face in your industry?

The biggest challenge right now for the transportation and logistics industry is how we can improve communication and work with regulators. Because right now Indonesia is a country with autonomous provinces, so each province has their own priorites and strategies. There must be collaboration with the provinces and with the government in Jakarta.

How?

The transportation business is not easy because our trucks travel from Jakarta, say to Aceh. Whatever the people in Aceh decides has an impact on the rest. We must negotiate with every province and discuss what needs to be done, why this approach is not working, what kind of investment should be applied because we know that for a long time, people were not focused on establishing sustainable transportation.

What is sustainable transportation?

Sustainable transportation is a platform with a system that really focuses on what needs to be done, not just for a short period of time. I've experienced during my time that Minister 'A' will come up with a 50-year plan, but when he is replaced, another will have a different platform. So to be sustainable it must be continuous, it must be long term. With traffic jams, congestion, high cost of transportation and logistics, people should think about this. We would like to be competitive and create sustainable cities that lead to a better quality of life.

How would you do this?

We are still learning. There are many challenges. People say we need to have better public transportation. I'm like, ya... I've been talking about this for 10 years! In Indonesia there's a lot of incentive for private car ownership, but we need more incentive for public transportation. In Melbourne it's very easy to use public transport. It's very costly to own a car. That's why people choose to use public transportation. The incentive to take public transport is very high. This should be applied in Indonesia.

Do you think these changes can happen in Indonesia?

We have a new president, a different cabinet, different approaches by the ministers, things are changing but change is good. I believe these changes are slowly happening. I always share with our team in Organda that we should have faith and that we should enforce what needs to be done. We should meet the challenges with solutions and be part of the solution. To turn around a not so great situation into a great situation, you need a lot of effort, commitment and resources.

You are an extremely busy woman. How do you stay grounded?

Always have best friends in your life who can tell you the truth despite your achievements. I believe your family can be your friend as well. I love to consult with my daughter. We talk like friends. When you have friends who can tell you things it will keep your feet on the ground. I also believe that you should meet a lot of people in your life. If you only meet people from a certain group, I don't think you have much empathy for other people.

How does this experience impact your work?

I believe Organda has been entrusted to me, so I should do something for the drivers who nobody really cares about. In Jakarta we designed a new program to ensure they have sufficient income to revitalise their fleet and ensure there is a better income for the drivers. Five years ago, nobody cared, but we did some socialization to see what could be done. We trained some of them. I think it creates more awareness and also makes people think about people's struggles and motivate them to do something about it. I've been talking to schools to see how we can collaborate, so they can have money for scholarships for the children of drivers or the children of those who are not so lucky. I think the program should be in place by the end of this year.

What is the best advice you can give to a young person in the business world?

I think you have to keep smiling. It's a simple suggestion but it's very significant. It's really good for me to be comfortable with who I am. You need energy to move forward and to create new things, and understand that it's okay to make a mistake. Secondly, I always say that you should be very focused on what you do. If you are focused you can learn more about the situation and understand better the situation. Things become clearer about what needs to be done in the business, in your organization, in your difficulties. Simple but useful. I like to keep it simple. Life is complicated already, why make it more complicated. Sometimes you have to go through some complications, but you should stay focused.

You are a successful woman. Which other women do you admire?

I admire successful women like well-known lawyer Kartini Muljadi and I salute my fellow Eisenhower alumni. And I respect marine geographer Dr. Valerie Cummins, who continued to travel and to work even though she was pregnant. I believe women must be given a forum because women play a significant role in Indonesian life, facing pressures beyond those experienced by men. But I enjoy challenges. It motivates me. (*)

In an industry dominated by men, a sharp, straight-shooting woman has risen head and shoulders above her counterparts to become one of Indonesia's most successful business people. Eka Sari Lorena Soerbakti is chairperson of the Organization of Land Transport Owners (Organda), most probably because she happens to be the managing director of the companies Eka Sari Lorena Express and Eka Sari Lorena Logistics, the director of Eka Sari Lorena Transport and the deputy director of Eka Sari Lorena Holdings. She is also on the Research Committee for Transport and Logistics at the Yogyakarta-based Gadjah Mada University.

Eka's list of achievements is impressive. She was chosen as one of the 20 Most Powerful Women in Indonesia by Fortune magazine in 2013 and 2014, and one of the 10 Most Inspiring Women by Forbes magazine in 2014. But for all her success in the business world, Eka says her greatest achievement is her family. Being a devoted mother, wife and daughter are roles she values above all else. "I have a good family, that's my biggest success," Eka said.

Her childhood was not typical of a girl from North Sumatra, where she grew up. Instead of playing with dolls, Eka hung around her with her father, Gusti Terkelin Soerbakti, founder of the Lorena Group, in his Bogor workshop, learning about its operations. "I learned about crankshafts, engine overhauls and injection pumps." As she grew, so did her father's company. But when she entered the business, she discovered people would not take her seriously because she is a woman.

Rising to the top of her industry was the result of dedication. One of her proudest moments was when in 2010 she was elected chairperson of the Organda, an organisation with 1.5 million members. "It was an honor for me because it's very much a old-boys club," Eka told Tempo contributor Marlene Millot, in a special interview.

What did your father teach you about the business?

 

Father told me we should design the buses with feeling, making sure the designs were efficient and effective for our passengers, so they will want to travel with us not with others, or to ship their logistics with us rather than with other companies. You have to pay attention to detail and efficiency and be very practical.

What are the major challenges you face in your industry?

 

The biggest challenge right now for the transportation and logistics industry is how we can improve communication and work with regulators. Because right now Indonesia is a country with autonomous provinces, so each province has their own priorites and strategies. There must be collaboration with the provinces and with the government in Jakarta.

How?

 

The transportation business is not easy because our trucks travel from Jakarta, say to Aceh. Whatever the people in Aceh decides has an impact on the rest. We must negotiate with every province and discuss what needs to be done, why this approach is not working, what kind of investment should be applied because we know that for a long time, people were not focused on establishing sustainable transportation.

What is sustainable transportation?

 

Sustainable transportation is a platform with a system that really focuses on what needs to be done, not just for a short period of time. I've experienced during my time that Minister 'A' will come up with a 50-year plan, but when he is replaced, another will have a different platform. So to be sustainable it must be continuous, it must be long term. With traffic jams, congestion, high cost of transportation and logistics, people should think about this. We would like to be competitive and create sustainable cities that lead to a better quality of life.

How would you do this?

 

We are still learning. There are many challenges. People say we need to have better public transportation. I'm like, ya... I've been talking about this for 10 years! In Indonesia there's a lot of incentive for private car ownership, but we need more incentive for public transportation. In Melbourne it's very easy to use public transport. It's very costly to own a car. That's why people choose to use public transportation. The incentive to take public transport is very high. This should be applied in Indonesia.

Do you think these changes can happen in Indonesia?

 

We have a new president, a different cabinet, different approaches by the ministers, things are changing but change is good. I believe these changes are slowly happening. I always share with our team in Organda that we should have faith and that we should enforce what needs to be done. We should meet the challenges with solutions and be part of the solution. To turn around a not so great situation into a great situation, you need a lot of effort, commitment and resources.

You are an extremely busy woman. How do you stay grounded?

 

Always have best friends in your life who can tell you the truth despite your achievements. I believe your family can be your friend as well. I love to consult with my daughter. We talk like friends. When you have friends who can tell you things it will keep your feet on the ground. I also believe that you should meet a lot of people in your life. If you only meet people from a certain group, I don't think you have much empathy for other people.

How does this experience impact your work?

 

I believe Organda has been entrusted to me, so I should do something for the drivers who nobody really cares about. In Jakarta we designed a new program to ensure they have sufficient income to revitalise their fleet and ensure there is a better income for the drivers. Five years ago, nobody cared, but we did some socialization to see what could be done. We trained some of them. I think it creates more awareness and also makes people think about people's struggles and motivate them to do something about it. I've been talking to schools to see how we can collaborate, so they can have money for scholarships for the children of drivers or the children of those who are not so lucky. I think the program should be in place by the end of this year.

What is the best advice you can give to a young person in the business world?

 

I think you have to keep smiling. It's a simple suggestion but it's very significant. It's really good for me to be comfortable with who I am. You need energy to move forward and to create new things, and understand that it's okay to make a mistake. Secondly, I always say that you should be very focused on what you do. If you are focused you can learn more about the situation and understand better the situation. Things become clearer about what needs to be done in the business, in your organization, in your difficulties. Simple but useful. I like to keep it simple. Life is complicated already, why make it more complicated. Sometimes you have to go through some complications, but you should stay focused.

You are a successful woman. Which other women do you admire?

 

I admire successful women like well-known lawyer Kartini Muljadi and I salute my fellow Eisenhower alumni. And I respect marine geographer Dr. Valerie Cummins, who continued to travel and to work even though she was pregnant. I believe women must be given a forum because women play a significant role in Indonesian life, facing pressures beyond those experienced by men. But I enjoy challenges. It motivates me.


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Good luck , just watch out with coruption
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Good luck , just watch out with coruption