Multinational technology companies in Indonesia are facing difficulties in finding qualified employees as existing talent in the country does not “fit” closely enough with their rather unique corporate cultures to catch up with the rapid growth in their business.
Sujamto Prasetio, the ASEAN channel director at NetApp, said that the “exponential growth” of the information technology industry in Indonesia meant that recruiting and maintaining talent had become tougher for tech companies.
“This significant exponential growth does not run in parallel with an increasing talent pool in the market,” he said.
Similarly, Andreas Diantoro, the president director of Microsoft Indonesia, said finding talent was the top issue the company faced.
However, tech companies said the tough search for talent was not because Indonesians lacked skills.
“Skills have never been the problem because Indonesian talents are some of the best in the world,” Andreas said, adding that up to 90 Indonesians had worked on the development of Windows 8, Microsoft’s newest operating system.
Yet, the issue was in finding people who would seamlessly fit into the unorthodox culture tech companies tended to foster.
Henky Prihatna, Google’s Indonesia country consultant, said that the company’s “Google” culture was characterized by a flat organizational structure that made it essential for workers to possess the flexibility to work collaboratively in small teams.
This fluid work structure, marked by horizontal hierarchies and work flexibility, are trademarks of many tech companies.
“So first, we are looking for intelligent people and second, we are looking for those who can collaborate and show creativity as well,” Henky told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of an event at the American culture center @America.
Andreas added that adherence to business ethics, something that local companies took for granted, was essential and required workers to adapt to this “full ethics culture” in addition to meeting company targets.
He further added that this adaptation was especially tough for many fresh graduates, new to working for multinational companies, whom the company had hired.
Sujamto said that not only was recruiting an issue, but retaining talent was also a challenge given that talent poaching had become a daily occurrence in the industry, especially as more tech companies entered the country.
“Maintaining a pool of talent is really tough,” he said.
Meanwhile, Henky added that many Indonesians with IT skills went abroad.
Indonesian-born Sehat Sutardja, who founded semi-conductor company Marvell, runs his company from the tech industry mecca of Silicon Valley in California.
Andreas noted that creating initiatives that promote the well-being of the employee was key in retaining talent. He said that Microsoft regularly provided breakfast for employees and even organized office-wide indoor soccer competitions for everyone.
Tech companies also dispelled the notion that they only searched for IT-able employees, pointing out that non-technical roles, including sales, marketing and business development, made up around half of the company’s positions.
Sujamto said that only six employees of the small team of 18 workers at NetApp in Indonesia were involved in technical work.
“Job description-wise, the ratio of technical to non-technical job description is 40:60, meaning that 60 percent of those working with us are in non-technical jobs,” he said.
He added that tech companies should prioritize the hiring of local talent, and adapt parts of the organizational culture to features within the local culture as well. “We should believe more in leveraging local expertise and talent,” he said.
Indonesians must change their perceptions of themselves as well, and start to see themselves as capable in the tech world.
“We have to change our perceptions because sometimes, perception becomes reality,” he said.