I would like to share one of the most wonderful journey in my life. Getting scholarship in Japan America Institute of Management Science (JAIMS) in Hawai’i, United States attending East West Knowledge Leaders Program (EWKLP) back in 2009. Attending EWKLP has broaden my perspective about East & West management approach to the next level. The courses are delivered in an insightful and balanced content based on philosophy that management is a liberal art. JAIMS faculty members & professors are very passionate and professional. The multicultural environment increased my appreciation about our own culture as well as others. This was the seed and beginning of my next journey as Global professional and I was inspired to start thinking about writing a book which eventually coming true. “GO GLOBAL – Guide to a Successful International Career”, published by Gramedia in May 2014 and it has inspired thousands of students and professionals since then.
JAIMS & HAWAII EXPERIENCE
Situated in Hawai’i Kai with beautiful green row hill as background, I was amazed and feeling blessed when I first arrived at JAIMS. The first agenda was meeting Lori Nakano, school coordinator for the host family arrangement. She gave me a great first impression with her soft spoken, informative, and helpful in ensuring we have a suitable host family to stay in the next three months. In my opinion, having a comfortable and supporting host family is crucial in supporting the successful of the program. Thanks to Lori who have given full assistance prior to our arrival and JAIMS site tour which gave me more preparation to be ready on the 1st day.
The JAIMS campus is green and blends harmoniously with its surrounding. On-campus facilities which include classrooms, conference room, student lounge with computers, library, and cafeteria are available to sustain the daily study life. The library provides various books from management, self-help, to cultural management books which show the world’s diversity especially with emphasize in the East & West practices. I’m delighted to see ample interesting topics which couldn’t find before such as how to manage diversity in business, different cultural perspectives, etc. In my opinion they are classic references and rare resources. These resources particularly relevant to my previous role as Head of Learning & Talent Development and also Diversity & Inclusion champion at previous employer at that time in Standard Chartered Bank. They have offered me ideas and help me asking better questions to take the initiatives to the next level.
I always try to draw learning from every occasion regardless how small it is. Opening a bank account at the Bank of Hawaii became a new experience and learning too. As I was working in a banking industry, the service offered by the customer service officer, Samantha was impressive. She was very helpful, showing can-do attitude and passionate at her job. The service reminded me about one training module called “ALOHA” at the bank. Her attitude and action clearly a reflection of “ALOHA” implementation which I think the bank’s front liners should treat the customers like what Samantha did.
One of the most attractive places in O’ahu is the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). I had the opportunity to visit the site twice. One trip had been arranged as part of the Globalizing Hawaii course. The visits have given me insight on how I may contribute to my country. Jakarta has similar tourist site called “Taman Mini Indonesia Indah” (TMII) or in English “Little Indonesia.” Reflecting on PCC, there would be lots of things that can be done to promote TMII as Indonesia has also very diverse culture, from traditional dance, songs, dresses, languages, etc. Not only PCC, in general, Hawaii has been very successful at promoting the state as one of the most admired tourist place, while Indonesia there are many other things which can be further developed and promoted. Hawaii experience has again given many insightful ideas.
Well-known for its unmatched beautiful beaches, Hawaii is a naturally perfect location to try on new things. In addition to the knowledge advantages from this program, I tried sports activities that I have never had a chance to do in Indonesia, Surfing and Golf. Together with other classmates we experienced surfing at Waikiki beach where we were successfully standing and riding the waves. JAIMS arranged Golf tournament where almost all students were participating. These activities are not just for fun, they gave me new skills, sense of fulfilling, pride and accomplishment.
Other cultural events within the three months period were Halloween, Thanksgiving, and International night. Halloween at JAIMS has become an interesting event not only because I experienced it for the first time, it was also because I had been given opportunity to become the coordinator of the event. It tested my leadership skills because this was the first event conducted at the program and the class members didn’t really know each other, therefore it required different skills and approach. The event was successfully conducted with many positive feedbacks. Halloween was also celebrated at the house and it was a great experience to see the crowd at Waikiki. Another time, during International Night, I took the role as a MC. On the event, students were dressing in their national costumes and we performed various traditional dance, singing, and games. The activities have enriched my knowledge about various cultures as well as understanding the classmates better.
The strongest features in EWKLP were the curriculum offers a holistic, multidisciplinary East & West approach. Students are being taught to be aware of the cultural differences across countries. Almost all the topics have been designed or having component which address this issue and therefore students have deeper insights on why understanding differences is important at today’s global business environment. Being in the class with nine different nationalities has helped to reinforce this understanding. It is interesting; however that only one colleague comes from Europe. In my opinion, adding one or two more students from U.S. or Europe would be better to enrich the class diversity.
For students from South East Asia, it is very beneficial to have many Japanese, U.S. & Europe colleagues or professors given the fact that U.S and Japan were still the center of power (economy, power, social, etc.). Interaction with other program students has provided another advantage as many of them come from the U.S. mainland, while EWKLP colleagues from Japan help them to practice their Japanese language. Informally, I also absorbed many new Japanese words which I have never been exposed before. In my opinion, learning new language might open bigger possibilities, opportunities, and important network for the future.
The mix of working experience and background have enriched the learning as each student may discuss the topics from many different angles and hence one topic can be comprehensively discussed. In fact, the class becomes livelier because we were able to learn from each other. While I was contributing by sharing knowledge and experience, at the same time the unique and specific view points from other countries, experienced colleagues, and even younger colleagues have given new perspectives. The interactive and dynamic of group discussion were useful for understanding self better. For example, the leadership that I use in the workplace will need to be adjusted based on current climate atmosphere, different cultures, and personality. Hence my leadership skills have also been improved to a different level.
I feel very lucky to learn directly from many great professors and lecturers such as the Knowledge Management Guru, Prof. Ikujiro Nonaka and Prof. Ryoko Toyama. The subject has given me an excellent framework on how the company creates knowledge, how important to preserve and sustain not only explicit knowledge, but also tacit knowledge. The topic is then very well complemented by an inspiring innovation lecture by Prof. Kobayashi talking about his working experience in Honda to introduce airbag which eventually become industry standard for safety. Before attending the course, I was wondering how such thing as knowledge and innovation being explained and learned. The courses have perfectly answered the questions, and I hope that I would be able not only to apply the concept and also sharing it.
Overall, EWKLP was a great and fulfilling program. The combination between quality professors, quality students, quality topics/courses chosen facilitated by decent facilities, professional staff, and very well managed schedule would hopefully produced quality outputs. Having the opportunity to attend EWKLP in JAIMS has been very insightful and rewarding lifetime experience. What’s even more delightful, at the end of the course I was awarded by some prestigious awards at the school:
- Senator Francis A. Wong Leadership Award
- EWKLP-Fall 09 Student Choice Award
- Model for Innovation team competition – 2nd place
- EWKLP-Fall 09 Graduate with High Distinction
These achievement definitely gave a turbo booster to my motivation and confident.
After EWKLP and returned to Jakarta, I was then given international postings in Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Photos provided by the author.