The Jakarta Post
Tomy Sofhian, the first Indonesian to lead the Europe-based TNT, is capitalizing on his leadership savvy to scale greater heights in the logistics industry.
Leading a company that has a parent company hailing from Europe presents its own challenges.
As the captain of The Netherlands-based logistic company, TNT, which focuses on overseas express services, Tomy has proven that he has the much needed expertise and mettle to lead the company amid stiff competition.
Since his appointment as the head of TNT Express Indonesia, Tomy has led the company in securing several noteworthy achievements.
The 43-year-old said the logistics industry in Indonesia still had very wide legroom. 'Most cities that are well-developed are located in the western part of the country. So, to the east, there is still very big potential where we can develop. And as the eastern part of Indonesia continues to develop, the need for good logistics services also grows in importance,' he said about the challenges and opportunities faced by the industry in Indonesia.
It's a well-known fact that people need to pay more to have goods delivered to eastern Indonesia than to Singapore, he added, citing an example. 'Even sending cargo to Semarang is more expensive than sending cargo to Singapore. The higher the traffic, the lower the cost for express companies and customers.'
Overcoming the competition
To make sure TNT Express Indonesia stays ahead of the game, as the company's managing director, Tomy believes there should be constant improvement in how the company runs.
'We are gunning for service leadership, as in the industry the company cannot rely only on transit time and competitive prices to stay competitive,' he explained.
He said those two qualities'transit time and competitive price'could act as key differentiators.
'The customers see almost no difference in terms of those two factors. Today's international express companies are head-to-head in providing fast services and in terms of pricing.'
Developing service leadership means the company he helms needs to delve more in the area of customer experience. 'What we want is when customers use the company's service; they have a good impression at every step of the way. This requires commitment from every level in the organization, from the top management to those directly facing the customers.'
Implementing the strategy for the last two years, the company has now seen the result of its efforts. Under Tomy's leadership, in the last quarter of 2015, TNT Express Indonesia scored 67, the highest score among 200 TNT offices around the world. Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measuring instrument used to determine the level of customer satisfaction toward a company's services.
In NPS, the idea is to find out whether respondents are willing to recommend the company to others.
'Big international corporations, including some of the world's major technology companies, use NPS to measure their customers' level of satisfaction. So, we can say we are up there with those global leaders,' he said.
'The more people receive good-quality services, the more they can affect other people positively,' he said. 'There is no more time to protest the situation. We should start to reflect and improve our human resources'to face the upcoming Asean Economic Community [AEC], for instance.'
He added, 'Motivating staff is important. We can only randomly check our customers' level of satisfaction, especially on the field. It is easier to evaluate our in-office staff.'
For its couriers, the company conducts surveys asking for feedback related to the interaction between customers and the company's field staff.
'We constantly calibrate our staff's perceived performance and the feedback from customers. The idea is that they can learn how others, in this case the customers, feel about their performance at work. Should there be gap, we can make adjustments where necessary,' Tomy said about the way he improves the company's service index.
He further explained that to achieve a high level of satisfaction, the organization needed to pay attention to all stakeholders, not only customers and shareholders but also the staff.
'Many people in Indonesia always complain about foreign companies opening their offices here, and selling their goods or services in our country. Actually, we should start making effort to open our companies there,' he asserted.
He also said Indonesian companies had what it takes to become major players in the region. 'We have the resources; we have many production bases. We should be able to improve the human index in the country.'
Tomy believes education is key, and this is one issue no one can change overnight.
Related to his management style, he mentioned situational leadership as the way he runs the organization. He also asserted the importance of teamwork. 'A leader must be able to build a team and believe in the people on that team,' he said.
'I don't believe in a company having one superman. A company needs to create supermen who can help elevate the organization. This is not a one-man show,' he said.
He stated that a leader should not hesitate to interact with people on the front line to get firsthand knowledge on what is happening in the organization.
'Stopping at a certain layer of the organization can cause communication breakdown. So, actually it is required that the top management go out and reach out to the lower levels. 'The leader should have his feet firmly planted on the ground,' he said.
'A good leader is one that can create more leaders,' he further wsaid. 'All divisions in an organization should have a good leader. Of course, hiring capable people is necessary, but more importantly we need to be able to create leaders from among our own.'
Sumbawa Besar, Dec. 27, 1971
Managing director of TNT Express Indonesia since June 2013; previously the company's sales and marketing director from July 2011 to May 2013, operations director (2010-2011), branch development director (2008-2010), regional branch general manager for West Indonesia (2006-2008), area manager for Central Java & Yogyakarta (2004-2006), and branch manager for Yogyakarta and Surakarta (2002-2004).
Bachelor's degree in marketing from Gadjah Mada University (1998); master's degree in strategic management from Diponegoro University (2007)
Learning from the top
I enjoy reading books, especially those about global business leaders. Among my favorites are books by Anthony Robins and Bryan Tracey. They have interesting stories of success to share with readers. But what's important is putting the knowledge we learn from those prominent figures into practice.
My spare time is always great with the presence of my wife, Vivi, and our two children, Alya and Ghassan. I like to travel with my children. We usually go where we can all find something to do. It could be a theme park or even a downtown mall. So, it is really the company not the place that makes me enjoy a place.
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