Kusnadi Sukarja: Developing Participative Management Style

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June 26, 2007 was a defining day for Kusnadi Sukarja. On that very day, the shareholders meeting of PT Metrodata Electronics Tbk (ME) approved his appointment as the president director of the company, which deals in information technology.

Born in Bandung on Dec. 18, 1957, Kusnadi is not a newcomer to Metrodata Electronics, which was established in 1983. Previously, he worked for this company for 13 years before moving to another IT company.

Kusnadi, a graduate of the Bandung Institute of Technology’s School of Electronics and Telecommunications, worked for telecommunications companies like PT Telekomindo Primabhakti, PT Excelcomindo Pratama and PT Natrindo Telepon Seluler after leaving Metrodata Electronics in 1997. “The post I hold now is really challenging,” said Kusnadi. Besides having to maintain the growth of the company, which last year recorded a turnover of Rp 1.64 trillion, he must also distinguish himself from the previous president director, Lesan Limanardja, who recently retired.

Lesan led the company for over 27 years, right from the time Metrodata Electronics was first established. “This is quite a big challenge for me because ME is very much associated with the figure of Pak Lesan,” Kusnadi said.

Still, Kusnadi, a father of two, believes that no individual in an organization is irreplaceable. “At least I can equal the service level given by Pak Lesan or even, if possible, better it,” he said, adding that he knows the characteristics of Metrodata Electronics.

Kusnadi’s return to Metrodata Electronics is closely linked to the company’s expansion plan. Metrodata Electronics plans to expand into the telecommunications arena. “The old board of directors and the board of commissioners have drawn up the blueprint for the company’s expansion into the telecommunications business. That’s why they looked for someone who can support this plan,” said Kusnadi, who, previous to his appointment, was president director of PT Natrindo Telepon Seluler.

Recognizing the responsibilities he shoulders, Kusnadi has drawn up a two-part working plan, namely improving the existing business and nurturing new business, in particular a business in telecommunications. “We will review the old business. There may be more or fewer brands,” he said.

In regards to new business, he said Metrodata Electronics was looking for the best formula. “We’re still studying what form it will take. It may be a division, a joint venture or an acquisition,” he said. What’s certain is that ME will be playing a supporting role in the telecommunications business. “We will not be an operator because to be one requires a lot of capital,” he said.

Kusnadi said the telecommunications industry is indeed lucrative. The market is growing very rapidly and the turnover is very fast, but Metrodata Electronics currently lacks the capacity to be a core player (an operator). “Besides the role of operator, there are quite a lot of opportunities that we can tap from the telecommunications business,” he noted.

Kusnadi’s leadership style is participative management mixed with transparency. “I expect everyone to play a role in their respective areas,” he noted. Kusnadi adopts this management style in line with his principle, who as a leader never considers himself the cleverest or always right. “I only see things from a higher level but as for the details, they (the staff) should know better,” he added.

In addition, Kusnadi leads by example. To be the leader of a company, he went on, one should serve as a model for subordinates. That’s why in decision-making he always attends to detail, including paying attention to supporting data to find a solution and other options. “The purpose is to obtain the best decision, nothing more,” he said.

However, Kusnadi will not recklessly apply his leadership style at Metrodata Electronics. What has proven good under Lesan’s leadership, he said, will be kept because changing the character of a company does not always produce good results. “What’s certain is that I will demand that every employee be professional,” he said.

The first three months of his leadership at Metrodata Electronics, he said, will be spent more on reviewing things. “Even though once I worked for this company, 10 years is quite a long time to be away and many things must have changed during this period. That’s why I must study again both the company’s business and its culture,” he noted.

Kusnadi, certainly, is optimistic that he can translate into reality the wishes of Metrodata Electronics’ stakeholders. (T. Hidayat)

The Jakarta Post, August 01, 2007