Ahmad Mughira Nurhani: Lessons for the Prince

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INHERITING a “kingdom”, or in this case a company, does not mean that life will be a smooth journey without obstacles. Ahmad Mughira Nurhani took over PT Intermasa printing company from his parents.
Generally, most people learn lessons from past experiences. However, it has been slightly different for Mughi, as he is frequently called. He absorbed numerous lessons while holding the top position at the company established by his parents.
When he first took over the responsibility of manage the company, it was certainly not an easy and luxurious position with lots of facilities. Mughi, who was born in 1970, immediately faced with fighting for the company’s survival. “When I first joined the company in the early days, it was just recovering from past losses. I was 23 and had to deal with employees twice my age. The first year was a learning process. Although I was the director, I did not mind asking questions about lots of things and worked together with senior employees on the printing process and visiting and meeting customers,” recalled Mughi.
Mughi does not deny that his current position as a businessman is the result of his father. His father, Ahmad Nurhani, is a tough businessman originating from Sulawesi who enjoyed success in Jakarta and bequeathed the fruit of his hard work to his oldest son, Mughi.
The molding of Mughi by his parents, or his father to be precise, started in his teenage years. When he was in high school, for example, he was sent to London, the UK, to attend summer school.
Even during his secondary school days, Mughi, who has two children, was sent to Holland to participate in Tong Tong, a handicraft exhibition held in The Haag, Holland. Over there he learned about trade and how to deal with customers. “I had to take care of a batik counter with one of father’s employees who was also sent to the exhibition.”
Before entering university, he was more interested in studying law. However, his parents persuaded him to study economics instead. Finally he graduated as a bachelor of science in economics from Oregon State University, Corvalis, Oregon, the US. “If some people say that I was molded by my parents then it may be so in the minds of my parents, but I did not feel it at all. Well, they did direct me regarding my education, for example in high school I had to take science instead of social and cultural studies. And instead of studying law they persuaded me to take economics. And instead of studying at a university here I was sent abroad.”
What was unique about the molding of Mughi was that he was not aware that he was being shaped and prepared as the “prince” or the inheritor of the throne of PT Intermasa.
Although he was directly positioned as the company’s director, we can learn a lot from his days of struggle during the company’s fight for survival. Mughi, who also dreamed of being a pilot, did not enjoy many convenient facilities at his top position at the time. “Yes, it is true that I did not have to climb the career ladder like many other people. It also may appear that a top position is very comfortable, but in fact it is a heavy burden. Every month when everyone was to receive their salaries, I had to think hard how to meet the payroll on time.”
“During the first year I was not paid any salary. I received only transportation money. My father probably thought that giving me a salary was not suitable as I had a lot to learn during the first year,” he added.
As a newcomer he had to face many difficulties. In 1993, when he took over managing the company, one of the difficulties was to make money available for employees’ salaries. Moreover, PT Intermasa was a company providing a service, that is, printing. “Sometimes we did not have enough cash to cover the payroll,” he stressed.
As a result he had to find a way to meet his responsibility toward the employees. “I went to see my father at his other company to ask for a loan to pay the salaries. Instead of getting the money, I got words that shocked me,” he recalled with a smile.
Mughi’s father told him that he had inherited a company with assets in the form of printing machines and as such the salaries and everything else were entirely Mughi’s responsibility. He felt like he had been slapped in the face. The experience was like whiplash that urged him to keep striving, trying his best without anyone’s help, including his father’s. “I believe in a good system. That is why I give authority to my managers, at least 50 percent and the rest lies with me. ”
“I had to think hard. I contacted my customers and requested faster payments. I gave discounts for early payments. This method helped a lot.” Finally his determination and numerous innovations paid off for PT Intermasa, which is also a publishing company that is still going strong.
The company has 197 employees and consistently applies quality management and in 2000 received ISO 9001 certification. He keeps on enhancing the quality of human resources while at the same time providing the best products and excellent service. The welfare of his employees is also improved upon continuously.
As a leader he is not a one-man show type, because he relies on his staff to run the company. “I believe in a good system. That is why I give authority to my managers, at least 50 percent and the rest lies with me.”
No one can avoid competition in any business. However, Mughi, who graduated from state high school SMA Negeri 4 Jakarta, has certain strategic keys to handle the stiff competition. He relies on creative breakthroughs and most primarily on excellent customer service. He also feels lucky that the company has been established for more than 30 years, so there are many loyal and highly committed customers. “We also regularly renew our machines,” he added.
He does experience trying days at time. “Once I worked on a project that had already been approved, but on D-day it was canceled. So I just assured myself that the project was not meant for me. I really believed that everything in life is preordained,” he said.
He also believes he learned a valuable lesson, just like the local saying goes: The higher the tree the stronger the wind blows. Never satisfied with his current good business, Mughi, who is an ardent jogger, is starting to establish his own furniture company, PT Mandegani. Why furniture? His reasoning is quite simple. He does not want any conflict between the new company and his established one. “I love the furniture business, because it goes through a process, through inventing ideas, which then become products to be marketed. That is why I am interested in furniture. Based on the future prospects of the furniture business, we plan to build our own manufacturing plant in two years,” he said hopefully. (Adisty Wahyudi)
The Jakarta Post, April 14, 2010