(SWA) Interview with Ita Yuliati: does not put yourself as owner or CEO

Without excessive fanfare, Ita Yuliati managed to build her business empire in the field of information and telecommunications technology (ICT). Under the banner of the Alita Group, Ita now steals several subsidiaries. Among other things, PT Alita Praya Mitra, which at the beginning of its business stood as a contractor in the field of base transceiver stations and built a lot of BTS telecommunication towers at home and abroad.

Also, there is PT Nasio Karya Pratama, a company in the field of system integration; PT Buana Selaras Globalindo, which focuses on managing trading in the telecommunications industry; and PT Nutec, who collaborated with Telkom to support PT KAI in building ticketing modernization.

Supported by 800 employees, in 2012 the Alita Group was able to record revenue of Rp 1.5 trillion. How does Ita build its business empire, and what are the keys to its success in developing the Group?

The following are excerpts from SWA journalist Herning Banirestu’s interview with Ita Yuiati regarding the tricks of managing the company and employees.

How did you initially develop the Alita Group until now?

Initially, I worked at PT INTI and at PT Nasio Electric Co., the official distributor company of NEC products in Indonesia.

Then, in 1995 I founded PT Alita Praya Mitra (APM), which at the beginning of its business stood as a contractor in the field of base transceiver stations (BTS) and built many BTS telecommunication towers at home and abroad.

Only a year ago, in 1996 Alita had won the trust of Indosat to work on telecommunications infrastructure projects in Cambodia. We handled the project in Cambodia until 2001. The construction business we worked on was mainly for buildings, public infrastructure, and telecommunications supporting facilities.

In 2000, the wife of the owner of Nasio asked me to return. But, I refuse. I offer to buy Nasio. Initially 50%, now 80% of the shares are owned by the Alita Group. The name of the company is PT Nasio Karya Pratama (NKP). That way, Alita’s movement can be more free in offering services by bringing NEC to customers.

In 2002, NKP got a project working on the construction of fiber optics throughout East Java. Since 2002 Alita has also won the trust of XL to build its network. Then, in 2005 he managed to get the construction project of the IM3 and Satelindo transmitter towers. In 2007, Alita managed to achieve revenue of Rp. 750 billion.

How much is the revenue now?

Now under the Alita Group there is PT Buana Selaras Globalindo, which focuses on managing trading in the telco industry. Also, there is PT Nutec who works with Telkom to support PT KAI in building ticketing modernization. All KRL ticketing in Jabodetabek we handle the infrastructure development. Also, train ticketing at Kuala Namu Airport, Medan,

In fact, vending machines in various KRL stations, online taxes, levy taxes for restaurants, which builds are Nutec. Nutec is arguably the pioneer in transportation transactions.

The peak of the Alita Group business occurred in 2012. At that time, the revenue recorded reached Rp 1.5 trillion. The year 2013-14 experienced a slight decline, because the slowing down of the economy has begun to be felt. Until 2015, the revenue only reached Rp. 800 billion. In 2016, we were indeed somewhat conservative to set targets, at least the same as last year.

Why did you choose to enter the information and communication technology business?

I see that the future of business is information technology (IT) and Internet provider (IP). I once told employees, if they want to develop a business, they are more towards these two things. So, in 2005 Alita took part in the tender for the construction of a TransJakarta smart card and system integrator network.

I have pioneered the cloud computing business, even when it’s not booming here. I have pioneered since 2006 with a subsidiary of AT & T, USA. But because of my speed, it’s hard for us to get the trust of customers to submit their data in the cloud. In fact, at that time Alita had invested up to tens of billions, but unfortunately the business did not work.

Does that mean you have failed in developing your business?

I am not really too quick to enter IT solutions into Indonesia, because (the market) here is not ready. Another example, in addition to cloud, is in 2007 the plan will be to collaborate with Net One, South Africa, selling electronic money solutions here (Indonesia). I have visited Libya and South Africa, where there is no safe carrying electronic money, especially domestic transactions. There, cash assistance for the poor is put directly on the card. They can take it on mobile ATMs even to other designated channels, not at ATMs, because all customer data is on the card, security with finger print, is very safe.

However, because it was not in line with Net One, finally Alita built its own infrastructure from 2007 completed in 2010. The project targets a lot of micro finance. If previously micro finance was recorded manually, then pushed with a smart card. This card stores customer data. This is the difference between a smart card and an ATM card whose data is on the back end. Insurance is also on the back end. Network data is needed to transact. Smartcards can be off line, with the help of EDC machines can see how many balances are there and how many installments to make.

What else is your business solution or development?

Business development continues, as the Alita Group currently has a new business, namely AiBAS (Alita Integrated Building Automation System). This new business unit focuses on managing smart office development. We have implemented it in Alita Building (Alita Group office building in T.B. Simatupang).

Including, in the tender process, Telkom’s new building. Several buildings in Jakarta, as well as cooperation with several developers, to build smart offices.

What is your leadership style like?

I never put myself as: I am the owner or CEO. Nothing in my mind. Except, when dividend distribution, which is my part, hahaha …

How do you manage the company and employees of the Alita Group?

Actually, the (role) information and communication technology (ICT) is very important in managing the company, as well as its employees. ICT has also enabled and greatly supported the freedom of working in companies. For example, we use flexitime (system). Since the beginning of Alita, there was no attendance machine. Attendance machines are like not trusting employees.

Rather than questioning employee absences, it is better to direct them to achieve maximum results. This is one way that is applied to foster the company’s trust in employees.

How much flexibility do you apply to that employee?

For example, I allow employees to take care of the family first, as long as there is a clear reason, then see the final results of the work. We are not bound by attendance. As long as he can communicate with the office, it’s not a problem, work can be done anywhere.

Actually, what’s the difference. They come to the office, sit down, do the work. Then, they want to be at the house or cafe, also sit down, finish their work too. Those who need work flexibility, such as sales, are strange if he is in the office. Except, those who must be in the office such as secretaries or finance.

What are the impacts and benefits for the company by implementing such work patterns?

Employee performance, so far good. Just look at our revenue. If yesterday decreased, business was all down, but now it is also rising again. Work flexibility also supports company efficiency. If in a week the employee is two days at home, but the work result is there, for him the cost of gasoline or transportation is more efficient. Well, if you make an office, our electricity costs will be lower.

What is your biggest ambition in career and business?

I am the person easy going, there is no big ambition. I have never exaggerated the problem. For example when entering the cloud business, it actually loses up to tens of billions because the business does not work at that time. If someone else, maybe already upset. I am not then tense and angry. The important thing is, we have tried. I made the company not just chasing big profits. When a business declines, let alone a loss, does not then fire people. That going into business then loses, all of them must have a lesson.

How do you balance roles in the office and at home?

I am grateful, as long as building a business never feels bothered to share roles in the office or at home.

I have three children. The biggest is college, second high school, and the smallest is still five years. My principle, if you have arrived home, focus your mind on your child and husband. Never bring work matters into the house. In fact, trying not to bring chatter about the office with her husband. At best, with my husband talking to the office if I want to ask something. So, headaches about the office were not brought home.

Getting here, information technology also supports me in maintaining relationships with children when busy. If I go abroad because of business affairs, I can use Skype or Facetime for video calling with children.

However, despite information technology, I highly prioritize direct communication with children or husbands. We always have a special time together, a vacation together is scheduled regularly. Technology cannot replace our presence in the family.

Taking care of children and families cannot be represented, even by the sophistication of information technology. The presence and role of mothers cannot be replaced, especially for their children. Our presence exists when technology cannot be replaced. However, office work can be done anywhere with the support of information and telecommunications technology.

I always try to have quality time with family. Always close to children. Although the first child was boarding outside the city, I still maintained a close relationship.

Have you ever faced a dilemma between choosing a job or family?

I was once in a condition of having to handle an important project, but at the same time had to be with the child. However, I don’t make it complicated. I happened to have participated in Asia Works in 2000, which taught me how to manage emotions when in a difficult position. How should I choose when there are a few considerations, when there is something complicated, I never serve panic. I am sure that everything can be managed and handled in whatever condition. The key is to share the role with the husband, especially in managing the family.

Are you still running a full business every day? When do you plan to retire?

As CEO, now I’m more relaxed. I focus more on strategic think. Daily operations have been handed over to professionals. Currently I can be more flexible in the office.

Late this year I want to retire. In the future the generation is not me, it must be handed over to the young. I am preparing a replacement.

What are your plans after retirement?

I will be active in social activities, in several foundations that have been built. I already have two foundations, namely YAKIN (an incubator foundation in Yogyakarta – providing loan assistance to small flowerless traders) and Pesantren Foundation at Kranggan.

I am currently building a foundation to take care of elderly people. I just returned from Japan learning how they manage seniors well. Finally, ICT too. Therefore, we want to implement smart housing or smart hospital. Currently, especially preparing human resources who can support this.

I was pioneering a special house that looked after seniors, but not a nursing home. So, these parents are happier to get together with others. In addition, there is appropriate medical rehabilitation for seniors.

Besides taking care of business and family, what are your other activities?

I like to get together and do photography hobbies with the community of camera enthusiasts, Leika. One of them was with Tompi. I really want to make a book that shows photos of my shots. Besides photography, I also like gymnastics. At present, I am the administrator of the Indonesian National Gymnastics Association. * AMBS

Source: SWA