The Young Presidents’ Organization, or YPO, is an exclusive, global leadership organisation for chief executives spread across 130 countries and grouped into forums. Here we talk about YPO and its leadership core to two of seven members joined under Forum 69 — Muki Hamami (President Director of PT Tiara Marga Trakindo) and Christina Lim (President Commissioner of PT Harita Kencana Securities).
Indonesia Tatler (IT): How did you come to know about YPO and then join it?
Muki Hamami (MH): I joined the Entrepreneurs’ Organization first before YPO, which is a younger group of recently returned students who had just started their businesses and who wanted to prove their worth. Then I was invited to join YPO until today as a YPO Gold chapter member—given that I’m already more than 50 years old. The difference lies in the goals of the two groups—YPO focuses on growing a business, while YPO Gold is about how to prepare the next generation because a lot of the companies are family owned.
Christina Lim (CL): I became familiar with YPO as a spouse member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) in Jakarta. EO is an organization that is similar to YPO and which helps young entrepreneurs excel in their personal and work lives. When I qualified, I joined YPO and took an active role in the organisation.
IT: Why did you accept the invitation to join YPO?
MH: Aside from the peer-to-peer mentoring with leaders from around the world, there are seminars, workshops, outings, and so many other events held by YPO chapters locally, regionally, and globally. The important and relevant issues discussed at each event are not only about business and leadership, but also parenting, wellness, and so on, with other family members welcome to join certain activities. There are also events every one or two weeks locally or regionally, yearly forum retreats, and yearly YPO Presidents’ University gatherings—all mentored by Harvard-quality members.
CL: When I qualified, I joined YPO and took an active role in the organisation. I started in the committee as a Network Chair before taking on the responsibility for the chapter's events as Education Chair. I was the YPO Chapter Chair during 2011-2012 term. My seven years on the managing committee have certainly expanded my horizon and my circle of friends.
IT: What makes Forum 69 special?
MH: In a forum, there are usually between eight and 11 members, and our seven members are very diverse, much like Indonesia itself—plus, all of us share a love of delicious food. As opposed to the norm, in which a forum is filled with men, we have two women here. The members also have different ethnicities, from Samarinda to Java, Medan, Lampung, Manado, and Sunda, as well as religions. We respect each other and often include these nuances in our forum activities, such as meeting while fast-breaking or holding a Christmas party. When we meet in the juncture of all the diverse individuals’ values, as long as no radical elements are included, that’s where we see the richness and beauty of Indonesia.
CL: Our forum has its origins in EO, with four of us together in the same forum since 2000. When I joined YPO in 2005, Forum 69 was formed with three additional members. Our group is very diverse yet very similar—we are diverse in age, gender, race, and religion. Our similarities manifest in our morals and sensibilities. However, it is our differences that make our bonds stronger.
IT: How have Forum 69, and YPO in general, been beneficial to you?
MH: There’s a saying that “It’s very lonely at the top”, and it very much rings true. When I need to consult about my business but cannot do so with my family or to my subordinates at work, this is where my peers in the forum come in. The YPO guidelines rule that we cannot speak our opinions but only about our experiences during each monthly meeting, and what a forum member presents in a meeting can’t be shared outside. Moreover, we discuss one matter for one time only unless there are steps involved in solving it that need follow-ups.
CL: Prior to joining a forum, members have to join forum training to ensure that everyone follows forum rules and protocols. These rules are the foundations of the forum and are crucial in establishing trust. A member can be kicked out if he or she breaks these rules. My forum has been helpful in both my professional and personal lives through the sharing of experiences and our mutual search for best practices. Since we have been together for more than a decade, our dynamics are refreshed as we enter into new stages of our lives.
MH: A good leader is someone who accepts that nobody is perfect and who is willing to listen to others around him or her. It’s dangerous when a leader becomes a know-it-all who doesn’t value all the talents in a company, which is why, when I meet other leaders, I try to find out about and to learn from the story behind his or her most regretted mistake. Then, I would summarise the lesson into my own terms and situation.
CL: A good leader must know what success looks like and what she needs to accomplish to get there. For others to follow, he or she must be able to articulate that vision. In turn, his or her followers know why their work is important and how their work contributes to that vision of success. He or she must be an effective communicator to provide that clarity. Also, what makes a great leader is the ability to recognise the humanity in our fellow beings. He or she recognises that every one of her followers, superiors and competitors, was once a little girl or a little boy. Sometimes it is too easy to disparage or to magnify the importance of others when making a decision or judgement about them: a great leader never loses sight of the dignity in each of us.