Andreas Ruddy Diantoro: Crawl, Walk then Run!

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Aggressive in his career and a determination to learn are traits of Andreas Ruddy Diantoro. At present he holds the prestigious title of Dell Asia Pacific regional managing director for South Asia and emerging markets.

In 1991, Andreas, who smiles easily, started working as assistant manager at Babbage’s, a software store in New Orleans, the U.S., for US$2,000 a month. With the knowledge he acquired at university, he gave the impression of being aggressive in building his career. We was later named assistant branch manager at NeoStar Inc., a company headquartered in Dallas, Texas, U.S.

When he returned to Indonesia he joined PT Service Quality Center Indonesia as its accounts manager and trainer. He rose further up the ladder when he joined a giant IT company, Hewlett Packard (HP). At first he was the commercial sales manager for Non-Subsidiary Countries at HP Singapore. Three years later he was named market development manager of HP Australia. It took Andreas only a year to be named managing director and channel business director of HP Indonesia.

Andreas had worked for HP for about 10 years when he was offered a job with Dell, also a giant IT company and HP’s main competitor.

“An acquaintance of mine, an upscale headhunter, invited me for a cup of coffee and then told me there was a vacancy at Dell. At first, I looked at Dell with disdain as at that time the company I headed (HP Indonesia) was in direct competition with Dell, and HP almost always came out the winner,” Andreas said.

However, he felt challenged by the offer. Indeed, Andreas had always been closely associated with HP, not only in Indonesia but also in Singapore and Australia. What, then, convinced him to join Dell? “In my region, Dell was second or third rank and I saw it as a challenge to put it in first place,” he stressed.

When he first joined Dell, Andreas intended to make it the leading company in every country under his supervision by means of building strong basic infrastructure. When Andreas joined Dell in 2005, the company ranked fifth in Indonesia. Today it is the leader in the corporate segment in the Philippines and Indonesia, he said quoting IDC Quarter 2 of 2007.

According to Andreas, what is interesting about Dell is its efficient system. He can control Dell in a number of countries, including Indonesia, without having to stay in Singapore, which is the control center of Dell in Asia and the Pacific. “For me, allowing an Indonesian like me to lead and build a world-class company like Dell from his own country is a breakthrough that a world-class company rarely allows. This shows Dell’s seriousness and also its recognition that Indonesians can also fight in the world arena and that any talented personnel of Dell can live in any country of their choice,” he said.

The culture at Dell, he added, is highly efficient so that the company does not require its employees to meet one another personally in meetings. “Internal meetings can be conducted through tele- or video-conference. Meanwhile, face-to-face meetings are conducted only with customers and are maximized to maintain customer satisfaction,” he noted.

Strategy to embrace the market

Crawl, walk then run! This is a management strategy he implemented in his endeavor to embrace the market in view of the great number of players in this sector. Of the three market segments, namely corporate, small/medium enterprises (SMEs) and consumer/home segment, Andreas said, Dell began with the corporate segment (crawl) by applying a product strategy for reliable, stable and scalable corporations in accordance with the needs of large corporations with 500 or more employees. “Dell notebooks, Latitude, its desktops, Optiplex and its Server Power Edge and Dell Emc storage products are our top products in the corporate segment. When Dell begins to control the market (walk, run), we will start entering the next segment, namely SMEs,” he said.

In the SME segment, Dell applies a different strategy with products designated especially for companies with employees numbering fewer than 500 people, such as Vostro Desktop and Vostro Notebook. “When we begin to lead the SME market, we will enter the next segment, the consumer/home segment. In this segment, we offer sexy products in various colors such as Dell Inspiron desktops and notebooks,” he said.

Dell applies a different strategy for every market segment. “You cannot find a Dell advertisement for corporate products because we carry out below-the-line activities through direct marketing, solution seminars/technology tours and workshops directly with our customers,” he said. Andreas explained that the customer database is a highly valuable asset at Dell. Many companies have a customer database but it is not updated and is frequently not well utilized. The database at Dell is a “living and breathing” asset. “Our database is always updated by our marketing team and by our field sales and tele-sales teams, which always interact directly with the end-users,” said Andreas. As a result, the products differ in line. Dell Power Edge, Optiplex and Latitude are for the corporate segment; Dell Vostro desktops and notebooks for the SME market and Dell Inspiron desktops and notebooks are for the consumer/home segment.

Recently, the popularity of notebooks selling for less than Rp 5 million has increased. How does Dell react to this phenomenon in view of the increasingly competitive prices? “Low-cost notebooks are mostly intended for the consumer segment. While all our competitors deal in low-cost products, Dell in Indonesia has instead launched a premium-class notebook with the latest Dell XPS graphic card and processing power. This notebook was actually designed for competitive gamers and for those requiring workstation/super computer class processing power as well as the highest graphic processing level,” he stressed.

The bamboo philosophy
One gets the impression that it has all been plain sailing for Andreas. As it turns out, he has adopted the “bamboo philosophy” in building his career. “Take a bamboo tree, for example. It takes quite a while for the bamboo shoots to become a young bamboo plant as the roots must first be strong. However, once the young bamboo plant appears on the soil surface, it can grow tall quickly. When it is big and tall, its stems always bend. This means we must build a strong basic foundation in our careers. And when we move higher, like bamboo leaves, we must be prepared to bend,” he said.

At every level of his career, he has always found an exemplary figure, or mentor, whose actions and behavior he observes. “I have done this since I sat in on lectures in the United States. When I started working, I had such a mentor. Even to this day I have a mentor,” he said. Usually he chooses a mentor whose character differs from his. “Or someone who I think can help me in developing a particular set of skills,” he added.

His relationship with his mentor, he said, is informal and without strings. This means when he has a good mentor, he can quickly learn from the mentor’s experience and also from the way he behaves. “I take and apply the good things and I tend to discard those that are not so good,” he said.

In the course of his career, Andreas has been awarded various honors, including the Hewlett Packard President Club 1997, Hewlett Packard Winner’s Circle 2003 and the Hewlett Packard Asia Pacific & Japan High Achievers Award 1996 and 2000. He has also been named among Indonesia’s “25 CEOs to watch in 2006” by SWA Magazine, and among “2005 Business Leaders of the Future” by SWA Magazine, named the “Most Inspiring Chief Marketing Officer” by Warta Ekonomi Magazine in August 2005 and “Man of the Year 2002” by Male Emporium Magazine. (Iwan Suci Jatmiko)

The Jakarta Post, October 24, 2007