Upi Nona Natasah: Establishing a School Based on Experience

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EXPERIENCE is the best teacher, say wise men. And based on experience, Upi Nona Natasah established the Natasa Group through which she channels her colorful life experience to her students.  

The Natasa Group, established by Upi in 1999, is a company, or more precisely a personality school that provides training for actors, models, presenters and singers. It also has a boutique that supplies a wide range of quality dresses. What makes this school different is that Upi as the founder and teacher was not educated as a psychologist like many other personality trainers.  

What the attractive Upi has is vast experience derived from a wide range of professions since her school days. This experience has forged Upi, who was born in 1966. Her experience has turned into self-didactic knowledge in teaching her students about personality. “I have done various activities since my senior high school days … modeling, basketball athlete and insurance agent. All this and more have made me as I am today,” said Upi, whose nickname is Upi Thaib.  

All these activities have made the long haired woman a tough person. “I learned a lot about discipline and not wasting time, being independent, but at the same time about being fashionable. I found out how to get benefits from my career very early in life.”  

As a former model, Upi knows a lot about how to create a personality. She plied the catwalk in the 1980s not only locally but also abroad, such as in Holland, Germany, Japan and Singapore.  

As an insurance agent she was named the Best Lippolife Insurance Agent for Indonesia for 1989-1990. Upi, who loves Chanel perfume, proved to be a dedicated insurance worker. “As a basketball athlete I learned much about strategies and I reached the highest level of achievement as I was included on the national basketball team in the 1989 SEA Games,” she recalled.  

The various expertise of Upi, who was once married to the son of an important man in East Java, has made her very adaptable. “Yes, I’m just like a chameleon, because I have to adjust to every situation. I had to be fashionable as a model, energetic as an athlete and so forth. So, today I have to be a different person depending on the situation I am facing.”  

Apart from her various experiences, she reads a lot, including biographies, which has made her an astute entrepreneur. She said that without a strong personality it would be difficult to achieve success. “I don’t know what kind of person would be created out of a weak personality,” said Upi, who graduated from STIE Perbanas banking and economic school in Jakarta.  

And, here at the Natasa Group, Upi has created programs to forge strong personalities by not only forming new talents in the world of entertainment, but also personalities that have leadership, management and good psychology.  

Upi, who is the sister of top model Sarita Thaib, says that ethics and personality should be taught from early childhood. “Because there is a relationship with one’s mindset and it takes time and process to become a mature person. We make a monthly evaluation of the students’ development related to their personality and so forth and we regularly invite parents to learn of the results of their children’s education here and training here.”  

Next to theory, the forming of mindset and practice is included in the school’s curriculum. As the owner, Upi does not mind teaching her students. “I am only replaced by an assistant if there is another important assignment like a workshop in another city.”  

Until now many people think modeling, acting or personality schools have no clear direction. “Some view our type of school negatively,” she added. But this is a challenge for Upi, who loves Japanese and Italian food.  

She has a certain way to prove convincingly to the parents and a secret key in training her students. The programs in the school are taught through actual practice and positive activities. Upi, who is a Minang, is totally absorbed in her work. “For years now I have always been serious in what I choose to do, so I never do my work halfheartedly.”   As a single woman, Upi acknowledges that it has not been easy to run a company alone. “But once you enjoy every moment of it then the load is not too heavy, although I have to tackle many things by myself. Indeed, there are plus and minus points in establishing a company yourself,” she said.  

How does Upi face the competition, which is becoming tougher? Smilingly she answered that the tough competition gives her more motivation to work harder and to the maximum. Upi feels confident that the Natasa Group has superior features to other companies or schools.  

The rapid progress of the Natasa Group is proof of the school’s strength, including the opening of another branch in Jakarta. “We have a plan, but as Natasa has various different businesses we need to fully concentrate. I also want to maintain what I have built so that the quality is not lowered rather than being selfish by opening a branch in Jakarta,” she commented.  

In the midst of her busy schedule she is still able to spare time for herself. “It would be stressful if I couldn’t.”  

To balance her activities, Upi chooses gardening. “Working with plants makes me feel burden-free. When I feel exhausted or stressed out I choose to get out of Surabaya and go to Jakarta, Bali or Singapore,” she said. (Adisty Wahyudi)  

The Jakarta Post, March 31, 2010

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