Ari Respati: Equal Opportunity Essential to Build Solid Team

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YET to reach 35, but don’t take the façade for granted because Ari Respati is indeed the architect of the management revamp taken by The Residence and The Executive Club Jakarta.
It has only been two years since he took the post as the general manager of The Residence, but the business has witnessed a quite significant growth fruited by his shining leadership savvy.
Not only that, his optimism is where his confidence business-wise derived, proving that under his leadership, The Residence is en route to moving to the next level of success. “With our current occupancy rate in the level of 70 percent, we don’t want to set our target high. I’d say 75 percent is what we are looking forward and the increment is believed to be achievable,” he said adding, “Looking at what the global economic downturn has impacted the property and hospitality sectors, having a 65 percent occupancy rate is considered good enough.”
The determined Ari, who had to juggle his time between school and work during his academic pursuit in the US, further said that his solid team is the seeds that have implanted the business to grow. Without doubt, his both bachelor’s and master’s degree in architecture and property/hospitality management he earned from the University of Oklahoma and Arizona State University, respectively were entry tickets to what would later become a staggering career achievement.
But Ari didn’t earn it instantly. As a matter of fact, he had to ride out his roller-coaster career in his early days working at The Residence. Staying persistent on the course, Ari’s courage and strenuous efforts toward building a much better solid team have in the end gotten himself to smooth the ride. “I never forget the first days I stepped into my office at The Residence where many of my staff didn’t take much interest in their work. I was aware that such condition had led to the decline of hospitality level in the business. You know, as a serviced apartment, it is important that we maintain friendly and warm service to the guests. Without having a solid team, the quality service would have not gotten better, “Ari recalled.
Getting the right people is only the first step, as he further said. Apart from assessing potential candidate employees; I have realized that while talent and experience are of great important, cultural alignment is just as important,” he remarks adding that failure to consider this element could cause unhappiness and loss of morale of workers. “That was the challenge that I had to overcome in the shortest time as possible!”
Therefore, Ari’s first move was to change the company’s cultural fit so the employees can take more pride in their work. Ari has hitherto treated everyone in the company as a member of professional family. “Giving your employees trust therefore should be implemented in a two-direction. Delegating tasks means not only trusting subordinates, but also giving them the opportunity to prove their trutstworthiness.”
Ari added despite the fact that the strong social networks within a company are potential to give a sense of work enjoyment; the top management personnel should be the root to implant such interpersonal bonds. Being able to maintain warm relations with his staff, Ari himself is now the father of two boys. His parental role has remained with him in building and maintaining the cultural fit nurtured in the team at The Residence.
Notwithstanding the presence of senior staff he has to lead, Ari is a visionary playing get-up-and-go when it comes to encouraging and motivating his employees. “The key is we cannot grow big without the help of others. Likewise, we cannot have a solid team, one of the essential recipes in the business growth, particularly for a hospitality business where providing high-quality service to clientele is of great important. Regardless of ages, it is important therefore that a company focuses on utilizing its human resources optimally toward becoming team players without having to put aside a sense of respect to others.”
Age actually was not a big issue here that had created lack of motivation among his employees before Ari held the post of general manager. He discovered that there was unfair situation, which is still being practiced by many companies across the archipelago. “Despite the presence of many qualified local workers in the job market, foreign workers are often treated better.” This, as Ari continued, has become predicament in many cases that will jeopardize the spirit of teamwork. “I then started to limit the recruitment of foreign key employees and promote more available qualified local workers. Some of these locals are even more capable. In addition, I have changed the company’s policy related to the job promotions and employee welfare.”
Amidst his busy days that often make him stay late at work, Ari still finds the time to engage in sports activities like playing squash and basketball, as he always maintains a healthy lifestyle. And apart from the sports activities, reading books of leadership and motivation are what he sometimes likes to do.
In honing his leadership skills, Ari admitted taking Donald Trumph and Robby Djohan as his role models. “Not only is Donald a successful businessman, but he is a great leader to me. His success stories have inspired me to think outside the box. Robby started his banking career from scratch and succeeded in merging Bank Mandiri during the 1998 monetary crisis. Such outstanding achievement always reminds me that persistence in the end would triumph.” (Ollie R. Sungkar)
Jakarta Globe, June 02, 2009