Mukiat Sutikno: Martial Art Lover Leads GM Indonesia

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FOR Mukiat Sutikno, being appointed managing director of General Motors Autoworld Indonesia (GM Indonesia) may be likened to a homecoming. After having no top leader for about six months, U.S. car manufacturer GM Autoworld Indonesia appointed Mukiat its managing director this month.

Mukiat is no newcomer to Indonesia’s automotive business world. He has been in this line of business for quite a long time. Prior to leading GM, he worked for PT Astra France Motor (Astra International Group), with his last position being sales and marketing division head. To be appointed GM Indonesia’s managing director is quite an achievement for Mukiat as he is the first local to earn the trust to lead this company, the sole agent for Chevrolet in Indonesia. In the past, the position of GM Indonesia chief always went to an expatriate.

Mukiat started his career in the automotive business at GM Indonesia. He worked for the company from 1997 to 2000 in various positions. He was one of the people who helped promote the Opel Blazer in Indonesia, which was later renamed the Chevrolet Blazer. “It is interesting, like nostalgia,” Mukiat said of his return to GM, although he acknowledged that a difficult job awaited him.

This U.S. carmaker will soon introduce the Chevrolet Captiva. It is, of course, the task of Mukiat to make the Captiva and other Chevrolet products achieve marketing success in Indonesia. This goal seems to be the background for the recruitment of Mukiat by GM Indonesia top officials, who obliviously believe that Mukiat has the competence and experience to do the challenging job. It is felt that Mukiat has a good understanding of the Indonesian market and the public’s taste and culture. The presence of Chevrolet Captiva is expected to lead to fiercer and exciting competition in the medium SUV segment, which includes the vehicles Honda CR-V, Nissan X-Trail and Suzuki Grand Vitara. “Later, the Captiva will be the backbone of the marketing of Chevrolet products in Indonesia,” he said

Regarding the trust given to him to lead GM Indonesia, Mukiat stressed that he would make every effort to improve the role of Chevrolet in the Indonesian automotive market, and hoped that in the next few years Chevrolet would be one of the five best-selling brands in Indonesia. This effort will begin with the intensified introduction of the Chevrolet brand, improvement of after-sales service, expansion of its dealerships and the introduction of several new car models.

On after-sales activities and services, Mukiat is lucky as Chevrolet has a program called Chevy Care. Under this program, owners of Chevrolets can enjoy free checking and maintenance of their cars. The program has been held twice in Jakarta and Bali and has had a favorable impact on GM. “In future, a similar program will be held in Jakarta and Medan,” he said.

The automotive industry is like a lifeline to Mukiat, a true car lover. Perhaps he is one of the few people who has successfully combined hobby and business. The spectacular development in the design and performance of automobiles in the last few years, which he calls a revolution, is one of his main reasons to be involved in this business. The young executive decided to work in the automotive industry after he completed his studies in Australia in 1997.

In leading a company, Mukiat applies the principle of open communication and tries to make sure that everyone knows the vision of the company and its targets. “I always try to ensure that everybody can talk openly about various problems they face and that solutions can be found jointly,” he said. In addition, he tries to persuade GM employees to come up with ideas for the development and marketing success of GM products. “For marketing activities, for example, the ideas may come from other departments. The ideas should not necessarily always come from the marketing department,” he stressed.

In Mukiat’s view, the automotive business in Indonesia has a bright prospect even though there has been a drop in car sales over the past three years. However, to ensure that the automotive industry continues to grow, he said, there are several things that the government and automotive business players should do.

First, improve infrastructure; afterall, the automotive industry relies on the availability of good infrastructure. Second, compliance with regulations, for example in applying and following the Euro 2 emission standard to reduce air pollution.

Born in Jakarta on Nov. 13, 1972 as the eldest of five siblings, Mukiat spent many years abroad getting an education. He went to elementary school in Singapore. In 1989, he moved to Australia and attended Taylors College Melbourne, Australia. He earned his bachelor’s degree in business from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne and his master’s degree in international marketing from Bond University, Queensland, Australia.

During his student years, despite moving from one country to another, he always devoted himself to martial arts. For example, at the age of eight Mukiat studied kung fu. Then while studying in Singapore, he learned tae kwon do and eventually earned a black belt. Besides keeping him fit, martial arts taught him discipline, which has helped him in his work.

Even though he lived abroad for much of his youth, Mukiat always wanted to return and work in Indonesia. His former employer in Australia had offered him the chance to handle his business in Semarang, Central Java. Instead, Mukiat decided to join General Motors in 1997, but stayed with the company for just three years then moved to Astra,” he said.

In his personal and professional life, there is one philosophy that he adheres to. “Pursuing results is important, but if we do everything correctly, results will follow,” he said. He learned this philosophy from his tae kwon do instructor in Australia, who told him to start training again from the white belt level (beginner level) even though he already had a black belt, reasoning that Mukiat had not trained for quite a long time. Initially Mukiat was a little disillusioned by his instructor’s advice. However, after returning home from training one day, his instructor explained to him about getting results and made him realize that it was a good philosophy to adhere to. (Maulana Yudiman)

The Jakarta Post, May 02, 2007