Text: Aulia R. Sungkar. Originally published in The Jakarta Post.
Second-generation business leader Budi Tirtawisata capitalizes on a leadership that inspires his people and taps potentials in tourism.
During a chat over coffee, Budi showed a book entitled Mozaik Kehidupan Seorang (Mozaic Life of Someone). The book highlights the journey of his father, Adhi Tirtawisata, who established Panorama from scratch.
Adhi, who turns 83 this month, opened a small travel agency in a small garage in his house in the early 1970s. Persistent with what he was doing, the visionary entrepreneur later scaled greater heights in the industry, with Panorama evolving into a big tourism company.
Going public in 2001, Panorama is now an integrated group focusing on tourism, transportation and hospitality. The company’s tourism services have branched out to include inbound and outbound travel as well as tourism-related media services that include events and exhibitions as well as tourism-related
There is one catchy phrase written at the beginning of the book, ‘It is about leadership, inspiration for all and fulfilling our unlimited potential.’
Taking his father as a role model, Budi, as the oldest among his siblings, incorporates these three elements in the company’s second-generation leadership. Together with his three siblings, Budi applies the democratic leadership in his family-oriented management style.
‘We are a family business, but we also treat everyone in the company as part of one big family. So I have to be democratic in leading everyone toward the same direction.’
He reckons that a democratic leader should have the ability to build consensus through participation, and creating good participation requires outstanding listening skills.
‘I listen to people because there are so many ideas that we can put into practice in the business. We are in the tourist industry, the service for which is different than for other sectors, especially banking and finance. Tourism is very heterogeneous. It is therefore important that we personalize every service delivered. It takes passion and heart to achieve success. You won’t gain success unless you have the right product to offer. And the bases of it all are your smile and your heart. Both make up for the right product,’ Budi asserted.
Managing a big company with hundreds of employees, including outsourcing staff, is not an easy task. ‘Being a team player is not enough. You have to be an inspiration to others in the company, as well as to other tourist industry players,’ he said.
To meet the goal of being an inspiration to others, especially in running an integrated service business like Panorama, Budi said it was crucial that a business leader could generate consensus by synergizing the uniqueness of all services offered. ‘Again, you have to listen to your people in order to synergize different feedback and opinions, which in turn can lead to achieving a common goal by the team. In our case, we have to do this because we offer an integrated one-stop solution in tourism-related services.’
Budi still sees untapped potential in tourism. The emerging middle class across the archipelago, to him, means that more and more people see travel as a necessity.
This means that there are more travelers in need of more services and facilities, from ticketing to accommodations and transportation. This is not to mention other contributions from the creative industry, such as souvenirs and handcrafts, he explains.
‘So, there’s ample room for us in the industry to generate more tourism facilities and improve our services to cater to the increasing demand. You just have to find the right strategy to implement, which often involves great human resources,’ he further said.
To motivate his human resources to deliver their best, Budi and his management team started revitalizing the company five years ago. ‘It was just at a time when we needed to find the tune of our vision and mission, our values and our service soul. This is not something that I personally did. It was a democratic approach involving an exercise by 40 members in the company’s directorship.’
Under Budi’s leadership, the company holds an annual conference called Panorama Management Conference every February. ‘We do it in different locations and invite our middle management team and directors. About 160 people attend this yearly event. This type of conference is important for us to keep maintaining and improving our business performance and increasing the values of our services delivered to our customers.’
Having discussed tapping into the industry’s huge potential, Budi concluded the interview with a confident statement. ‘We have an objective, which is to become a global player and a pride of Indonesia.’