Indah Saugi on Tackling the Challenges of Indonesia’s Tourism Ecosystem Through InJourney – Prestige Online

Having rather recently taken up a new role at InJourney, Indah Saugi tackles new challenges for Indonesia’s tourism ecosystem. She shares her story with Prestige.

In life, people often miss out on major opportunities or fail to make crucial decisions due to fear. But for Indah Saugi, fear is merely another challenge and facing those fears is just another stepping stone when going forward. This is the very mindset that brought Indah to the path she is currently on, as Senior Vice President Corporate Secretary Holding at PT Aviasi Pariwisata Indonesia (Persero) or InJourney, after previously holding the title of Director and Head of Corporate Secretary at PT. Air Asia Indonesia Tbk.

InJourney itself is a state-owned holding company for the tourism and supporting sectors, which includes a number of state-owned enterprises – or BUMNs – namely PT. Angkasa Pura I, PT. Angkasa Pura II, PT Hotel Indonesia Natour, PT. Pengembangan Pariwisata Indonesia, PT. Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur, Prambanan dan Ratu Boko, and PT. Sarinah. These companies are, in turn, divided into five clusters including airport management, hotel and travel management, destination development, heritage management, and retail management. Breathing fresh air into the country’s tourism industry, InJourney aims to encourage the recovery of the tourism industry following the global pandemic.

Below are excerpts from our exclusive interview.

Hi, Indah. How are you and what keeps you busy lately?

I’m very good. Recently I have been busy with work and hobbies. Previously, I worked at PT AirAsia Indonesia Tbk., an airline company. I basically learned everything about airlines from zero: I learned about routes, frequencies, airline specifications, associated costs, the finance side of it all, the variable costs for air tickets, and so on. During my time in AirAsia, I was heavily involved in efforts to prepare the company going public. I led and assisted the management as well as the company as a whole in many corporate actions related to the capital market. Furthermore, I was also involved and contributed in initiatives to liven up tourism, especially in priority destinations outside of Bali, from preparing sustainable tourism programmes in Lombok to developments in Danau Toba and Labuan Bajo. Those were all part of the job since airlines are a major part of the tourism ecosystem.

And now I have moved to PT Aviasi Pariwisata Indonesia (Persero) or InJourney. The work is quite similar, since it’s still about aviation and tourism development. What’s interesting is that here we collaborate with many stakeholders, which includes collaborations between state departments, ministries and communities. It’s as if my work never actually stopped between jobs. When I first joined, I was directly tasked with handling the launch of the company in Mandalika, Lombok, by President Joko Widodo. And I had only three days to prepare for the event.

What inspired you to join InJourney?

Ever since I was in college, I have always liked challenges. I don’t like monotony. There has to be a dynamic and challenges to keep me moving forward. When I moved to my current job, I thought that opportunity wouldn’t come knocking twice. Although I was already comfortable in my previous position, when the opportunity arose, I saw it as a new challenge. And I knew that if I didn’t take it, I would regret it. I talked to my mother and my sister, and they told me that I was still young, so I needed to grasp at as many experiences I could and to face my fears.

So, I think we have to face our fears, because in the end it’s just in our heads. And when we get through it, everything will be fine. Fun, even.

Can you tell us more about your role as Senior Vice President Corporate Secretary Holding in InJourney?

I supervise three departments: Legal, Communications and Stakeholder Management. For Legal, we need to check everything related to legal matters, which is different at a BUMN compared to a private company. In Communications, there are so many items that we have to handle. Besides handling media relations and media monitoring, there are stakeholders that we have to take care of, as well as the ministries. And on the communications side, everything needs to be strategic and aligned.

InJourney is relatively new; the company was established last October. So, we pretty much have been working from scratch. We have to create the necessary procedures and guidelines, from ethics and beyond. And now we are preparing our communication guidelines, which need to align with our members’ guidelines. In the Communication department, we also handle social media, the website, company profile and the company image or brand. We need to constantly provide updates on what’s happening at InJourney.

And as for Stakeholder Management, we manage the relations between stakeholders, such as members of the House of Representatives, various ministries, as well as third parties, vendors, and communities. Basically, InJourney’s range goes far beyond ministries and BUMNs.

My role is also to act as a bridge between the interests of the various stakeholders and the company’s management – the board of directors and board of commissioners and the shareholders.

“ I think we have to face our fears, because in the end it’s just in our heads. And when we get through it, everything will be fine”

What was – or still is – the biggest challenge while working in InJourney? And how did you overcome the challenge?

The biggest challenge for now is that we have so many projects, programs and initiatives – especially programs that are mandated by the government. So, the challenge is juggling everything. We don’t have many people working with us since the company has just been established, but we have to strategize in order for everything to work within a short timeline and according to proper expectations. For example, when I just joined, the MotoGP Mandalika event was about to run in two months’ time, so everyone had to be involved. Still, working on these projects has been fun.

A more personal challenge for me is managing my time and staying healthy, as well as managing personnel allocation. I have to be more strategic in managing my time and I believe that if we are persistent, everything can be done.

What is the main goal of InJourney and what are you and InJourney have been working so far to achieve the company’s vision and missions?

In the beginning, we focused on exposing InJourney to the public. That’s why we have to put out InJourney branding so that people would be aware of the company. As I mentioned before, InJourney has so many initiatives and programs.

But now, we are focusing on the recovery of the aviation and tourism industry post pandemic. We have several sub-holdings under InJourney, and they are divided into five business clusters: airport management, heritage management, destination development, hotel and travel management and retail management. All of them collaborate to build initiatives. So, in the future, there will be strategic and long-term steps for the development of Indonesian tourism and its supporting sectors.

Since we have been living amid a pandemic for the past two years, at InJourney we have the opportunity to increase foreign exchange in tourism. From this crisis, we’ve learned that we can build an ecosystem within BUMNs that is integrated from upstream to downstream, starting from the arrangement of flight routes, promotional content, events, attractions, amenities, cuisine, accommodation, and retail. For example, we want the airports to function not just as terminals, but as tourism hubs, so as soon as tourists touch down, they can start to see the attractions and ethnic elements of Indonesia. On the retail front, Sarinah has been transformed. There’s a new focus on developing UMKMs in Indonesia and the building itself has been revitalized.

What are your hopes and plans for yourself and your career, and also for InJourney in the future?

For me, personally, it is a great honour and a major opportunity to be part of InJourney’s growth. I hope to see InJourney arrive at the point where it can accomplish its government-mandated vision and mission, which is to develop Indonesian tourism and its supporting sectors. I hope the hard work of InJourney will pay off, and that I can continue to be part of InJourney’s projects. I do take pride in the work I do for our country and I’m proud to be part of this progress.

In the end, I hope we can drive Indonesia’s global recognition even further. Just like South Korea. It amazes me how its culture, music and food have become a global phenomenon. So, hopefully, InJourney’s hard work can elevate Indonesia tourism to that level.

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