Frantz Braha is boosting business through his ability to win the trust of his subordinates and vice versa.
Samsonite Southeast Asia vice president Frantz Braha said that during his four-year tenure managing people at the travel bag manufacturer, he found that trust was essential for getting things done and meeting the company’s annual targets.
“Putting trust in your subordinates will motivate them to do their best in accomplishing the tasks they are assigned. This way, it is easier for you to guide them to walk in the right direction,” he told The Jakarta Post in an interview during his recent visit to Jakarta.
According to Braha, untrustworthy workers are counterproductive to businesses as they often disrupt work processes.
“Imagine if you have to call your manager every five minutes because you just can’t trust that he or she will get the job done correctly. This will unquestionably go nowhere,” he said.
“In order for work to be effective, people need a certain leeway to do their job. Although you still need to have regular meetings to discuss certain strategies, people need to do their work independently. This is where trust plays its important role.”
Not only subordinates, but a leader also needs to prove that he is a trustworthy person, said Braha, who has been working in the garment and travel bag industry for 10 years.
“Your colleagues need to trust that you distribute and assess jobs fairly. However, it’s not always easy to be fair because as human beings we all have our biases. So this is why it’s very important to use objective measures like performance appraisals to assess other people,” he said, adding that trust and a sense of fairness contributed to a positive working climate.
Favorable business climate
At the helm of Samsonite Southeast Asia, Braha oversees more than 630 doors in the region, including 120 Samsonite-owned boutiques, and manages the holding’s brands such as Samsonite, American Tourister, Hartmann and High Sierra.
Under Braha’s leadership, Samsonite has strengthened its brand and position in Southeast Asian markets in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia and recently in Vietnam.
“Indonesia is a huge market. The world’s largest archipelago has seen double-digit growth of our products year-on-year. I see that the country’s burgeoning middle class is leading to more and more Indonesians engaging in more travel. They take more trips, and this paves the way for travel accommodation products. This is where Samsonite fits in,” he said.
Braha is optimistic that with the help of the brand’s local joint venture partner PT Mitra Adi Perkasa (MAP), the business will further flourish. “I’m convinced that our collaboration will help us better navigate Indonesia’s market and economic circumstances. And of course we are aiming for higher business achievements in the years to come.”
And Braha’s management style involves striving to create a corporate culture conducive to business goals. His management savoir faire is informed by knowledge that a positive working climate is key to motivating employees to achieve favorable outcomes.
“Let me put this way. If people working for you feel appreciated and treated fairly, they will usually follow you,” he said.
In his leadership role, Braha acknowledges that maintaining a positive working climate did not guarantee that there will be no disagreement. “In any workplace, people might not be able to live up to the company’s expectation of them. Whether you own an ice cream shop with three employees or a multinational company with thousands of people, there will be disagreements and differences. One crucial role a leader plays is to settle disagreements in a constructive manner. Dialogue is one effective means.”
He added that, “Where respect comes into play, people need to sit around a table and talk to find ways to overcome the differences and the disagreements. In every case that I face such problems, I discuss the matters with my team members to come up with a win-win solution.”
And when certain objectives are not met, Braha further said, an investigation could be a great tool. The crystal-clear objective is to realign back to the fold any underperforming members of the team.
Concluding the interview, he shared his advice for those seeking to succeed in the business world. “First, you need to have the passion for any particular business you want to engage. If you don’t have the passion, after two or three years, you will reach a certain point where you just can’t continue your work anymore. And your passion will lead to the trust in your business.”
Samsonite Southeast Asia vice president (2009-2014)
Lacoste area manager for 15 countries across Asia (2004-2009)
French baccalaurate from the French International School of Hong Kong.
Bachelor of Science in business administration, majoring in international business from Hawaii Pacific University.
Master of Business Administration from La Commercial de Deusto, Bilbao, Spain.
I like to paint abstract paintings. The paintings don’t have to have specific figures, so the art piece is more like a blend of colors, shapes and sprays. In terms of technique, I’d say that my paintings are like those made by [American abstract painter] Jackson Pollock.
In order to sustain the physical and emotional strength necessary in managing people, I rejuvenate myself through various sports activities like horse riding and surfing. Sport is where I seek to attain a physical and mental balance.
I wish I could write fiction. I’m fascinated by the way fiction writers build their characters and weave a story according to a particular time frame and historical context. Currently, I’m still learning it. Milan Kundera is one of my favorite fiction writers.
I love to travel. I have visited many countries, both for leisure and business. My parents had stayed in different places in the world, and this has inculcated in me a passion for travel. And it’s a good fit that now I work in the travel bag industry.
By Sebastian Partogi. Published in The Jakarta Post on May 24, 2014.