It is 1966 and Indonesia is still poor. A young man stands on the pier at Gresik, squinting against the setting sun while watching the fishermen pull their day’s catches ashore. He dashes to the nearest boat, bantering and haggling to find the desired quantity and quality, and then off he goes with his purchases on an auto rickshaw to cleaning and packing in Wonokromo. He doesn’t stop until the fish are in flight from Surabaya at 8am. That young man was Harry Susilo and his fish trading is the start of Sekar Group, now with Finna as its main brand.
“I had to quit school when my father had a stroke at the age of 51,” says Harry Susilo, “But I never stopped learning.”
He then shares with Indonesia Tatler his insights into a life spent mostly outside of formal education: one, pay careful attention to the experiences and wisdom of your seniors; two, see what’s happening in the world around you; and three, think critically about the “why” behind all these events.
When Susilo was growing up, he had to literally use his senses to differentiate between right and wrong, an intuitive ability that, in turn, became a habit that has helped him make good decisions as half a century rolled by. He now uses his heart to define boundaries in his sky-high dreams, “Because without boundaries, dreams cannot be reached,” he says.
Born as the eldest of 12 children, the youngest barely a toddler, in a modest household in Sidoarjo, East Java, Susilo had to be the breadwinner and role model once his father became sick. Upon looking at this condition, his father’s friend—who had come to visit from Singapore—then offered Susilo the opportunity to make money for the family by selling fish to buyers there.
Read more about Harry Susilo’s business sense in Indonesia Tatler September 2016 edition.
(Text by Edith Emeralda & Photo by Heri B. Heryanto)