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Jakarta Post

Daring to make decisions to move forward

  • Aulia R. Sungkar

    The Jakarta Post

  /   Sat, May 23, 2015   /  07:50 am
Daring to make decisions to move forward

JP/Aulia R. Sungkar

Veteran banker Herwidayatmo focuses on openness and firmness in capitalizing on his leadership savviness to take his team to the next level.

With an avuncular smile, PaninBank president director Herwidayatmo welcomed The Jakarta Post into his office in South Jakarta'€™s CBD.

'€œI have high confidence in the future of Indonesia. The country'€™s favorable macroeconomic condition has greatly supported the performance of many banks,'€ he said while peering at the city view from the 11th floor of his office building. '€œAnd I'€™m glad that I'€™m now part of one of the country'€™s leading banks.'€

Herwidayatmo was appointed to lead PaninBank in September last year. The 58-year-old is one of the nation'€™s most experienced bankers. Commencing his career in 1982 at the Capital Market Supervisory Agency (Bapepam), he later climbed to the top to head the agency and held various leadership positions in other organizations such as PermataBank and the World Bank.

Back in 1998-2000, he was deputy state-owned enterprises minister in charge of restructuring and privatization.

'€œWhile I was working for the government, especially with Bapepam, my day-to-day activities mostly involved dealing with the private sector. Regardless of where you are, be it the public or the private sector, the success of an organization really depends on the solidness of its team. And it takes effective leadership to produce a great team.'€

Aside from his banking expertise, his ability to deal with people of different backgrounds is probably what has shaped him into a man who has enjoyed the best of both worlds. But his confidence and courage are what also enable him to fuel the spirit of his subordinates to move forward.

In his mind, ideal business leaders are those with the ability to motivate their teams toward making positive changes in the company'€™s productivity, efficiency, innovation and business development.

'€œA leader must dare to make even unpopular and risky decisions, so long as he or she can give good reasons with open discussion. It'€™s a leadership challenge and it'€™s not easy,'€ Herwidayatmo asserted.

His assertion refers to the importance of management openness, a simple yet effective leadership approach that he has long applied in his career.

'€œI'€™m always open to talk and discuss issues with the management and staff. In the event that our team faces a problem, I want everyone to put everything on the table, and then we talk and find a solution. In other words, let'€™s straighten it out and move forward,'€ he said.

Staying innovative

As the first local bank to go public, PaninBank was listed on the Jakarta Stock Exchange (now Indonesia Stock Exchange) in 1982. The bank survived the 1998 monetary crisis as an A category bank. Its great strength has enabled the bank to scale great heights in the provision of commercial and retail banking products.

As of end of 2014, the bank'€™s total assets reached Rp 172.6 trillion, making it one of the top banks in the archipelago. Currently, the bank has 562 offices and more than 1,000 ATMs spread through 32 provinces.

In leading such a big organization, Herwidayatmo is aware of the high level of responsibility he bears in delivering and consistently maintaining quality service for customers.

'€œOne must-do on the list is boost the morale of our employees. This includes recognizing their contributions, such as giving genuine compliments or rewards for their performance. Promotion is one example. This will lead to a sense of belonging, as everyone in the company will feel valued. Once we reach that level, we will be able to create the comfort of home in our work environment. At least this is what I see in Panin Bank. On average, its employees have worked for the company for a long time.'€

The level of the employee loyalty might be high, but Herwidayatmo does not want to see them stagnant in their daily routines. '€œI don'€™t want them just to work based on instructions from their superiors. It is important that they be empowered to innovate. As human capital, employees must have good thoughts that can contribute to the betterment of the company. Thinking outside the box is the recipe to creating more innovative products.'€

He then cited the Panin Super Bonanza savings program as an example of the bank'€™s latest product. Here, the bank offers prizes worth a total of Rp 100 billion to 5,655 winners. The prize-linked savings account is still the most sought-after banking product among the public at large, he said.

'€œIt takes consensus to create a new product, but it also relies on the ability of a leader to make a firm decision. Otherwise, we will never get there. Remember, opportunity knocks only once,'€ he asserted.

In addition to banking products, customer service excellence has become another main aspect that prompts commercial banks to attempt to outdo each other.

'€œBesides paying attention to our telephone banking and call center, we are currently developing more features in our Internet and mobile banking services '€“ not only for individual customers but also for business to business (B2B). For this purpose, we have allocated around US$35 million of our spending budget for technological improvements,'€ he further said.

Herwidayatmo'€™s leadership savviness is without doubt what led to him being at the helm of the company. Besides his educational background, his interest in reading biographies has sharpened his leadership and management know-how.

'€œI admire many people with great achievements, especially successful bankers. Robby Johan is one of my favorites. He'€™s a highly commended banker for his achievements in developing Bank Niaga and building Bank Mandiri. It is important that we all learn from others. Learning is a never-ending life journey; and to me, learning is a form of worship,'€ the father of two concluded.

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