27 months in Indonesia. It doesn’t seem that big compared to the 900+ months I am supposed to live. However, even though I feel like time passed by in the blink of an eye, it was enough to live great experiences. Holydays, weekends, parties and others were just fantastic. But I won’t focus on that kind of experience, I have so much that I could fill a book with it. This post is focusing on experiences I had while working in Indonesia. this first part focuses on some good side stories that happened to me in Indonesia.
Keep time before you fly back, especially in Bali
No, I’m not writing about the traffic or aiport safety procedures forcing you to reach the airport long before your flight. During my 2+ years working in Indonesia, my main project was in Bali. During a year, I had to fly thereevery 2 weeks (it really was to work, I never created fake meetings!). Sometimes with my client, sometimes on my own. Even if we didn’t have much time to enjoy the island of Gods, we had some great time there. Must trips finished by a taxi directly heading to the airport and a flight back to Jakarta. But sometimes we had enough time for a quick drink or meal before the flight. However had been my day, the view, good food & cocktails made me forgot about everything. Really worth it!
Amazing meetings and accomodations spots
Indonesia also offers the opportunity to stay or have business meetings in places I’ve almost never been in France: luxury hotels. There, many meetings take place in restaurants, bars or meeting rooms you can rent. Food is excellent, the service amazing and buildings architecture always beautiful. It was nice to hold a meeting with clients close to the swimming pool of the Grand Hyatt in Bali. Unfortunately, the location of my Bali’s main project was far from attractive spots. But luckily, the only good hotel around was the Puri Dajuma. The morning view or a late swim in the pool were enough to energize and make me forget any trouble. I let you judge by yourself!
Be the one on the stage, not in the audience
That’s something I wasn’t looking for and didn’t expect. I was introduced to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ directors for Singapore and Indonesia. After a few weeks they proposed me to be a guest speaker at their next conference. It took place in Jakarta with an international audience from South East Asia and Australia. I directly accepted, what an exciting challenge! I already delivered a speech a year ago about green buildings and Indonesia, it was time to do it facing a bigger audience. It was quite impressive to speak in front of 200 professionals. Even more to be the moderator of a panel discussion gathering experts with 20+ years of experience. Great experience I wouldn’t probably have had in France, at least not that young. I learnt a lot, and also had a lot of fun doing it.
Meetings with Ministers and business leaders
Working abroad was also an opportunity to connect with people I’ll probably never have reached in France. I get the opportunity to be invited to French country managers or CEO meetings. It was interesting and instructive to have a chat with great leaders and benefit from their experience. Even more when they have 20+ years of experience in various companies and countries.
As french community wasn’t that big and all officials love to meet “young” professionals, I also met Ministers and Senators. It hasn’t always been a positive discovery of diplomacy.
It was very interesting to hear the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Laurent Fabius, delivering a speech. Even though there was no announcement, nothing new. The French Minister of Foreign Trade, Miss Nicole Bricq, also visited Jakarta. Without judging her qualities, I just didn’t (and still don’t) understand how someone working mainly abroad can be nominated without speaking english…
Senators, members of the Senate group “France – Indonesia and Timor Este” visited Indonesia for 15 days. They met mayors and other officials in various cities. When we asked them what was the purpose of this trip, the reply was “we will write a report on Indonesia and Timor Este for the Senate”… Not really persuasive, even worse when we asked why they did it in addition to French Embassy and there was no clear answer. No comment.
How Napoleon Bonaparte still connects France and Indonesia
Unrealistic dinner. I used to work with Tauzia, hotel management company, created and managed by a french man : Marc Steinmeyer. He is one of successful French entrepreneurs in Indonesia. As Indonesia is under the spotlights, many reports are filmed and he is often interviewed when not the key person. For one of these, he contacted me as he knew I was working with 2 indonesian from the Indonesian Ministry of Public Works who studied in France. Both, aged around 40-45, speak a good French. So we met the 4 of us for dinner with the filming crew. And there came an incredible explanation of why Indonesia wanted to work with French companies to develop eco-districts.
Actually, Indonesia used to be a Dutch colony for almost 350 years until 1945. During this period, the Dutch developed administrations and institutions according to their experience in their country. Among others, they developed a town planning code.
Let’s rewind. Back to the early 19th century, Napoleon Bonaparte was French Emperor and Netherlands where part of his Empire. In a will to govern and develop his Empire, he created a town planning code. It was used everywhere within the Empire. In 1813, Netherlands gained there independance and kept a major Napoleon’s heritage in their administration. They spread their knowledge to their colonies and customized this town planning code for Indonesia.
Consequently, the roots of Indonesian town planning code are similar to the French code. Can always be used in a classy dinner to cause a sensation!
Next post will be about other experiences, a bit more negative. Those complicating your life as a worker in Indonesia, especially when you’re not an expert in Indonesian culture…