Blog by: Kwa Hwee Lay, Clarie & Filda Citra Yusgiantoro, Singaporean and Indonesian, respectively; Nanyang MBA participants, Intake 2011
The NANYANG MBA Women in Business (WIB) Club held a talk cum workshop “An Entrepreneur’s Story”. We had the honor of welcoming one of Indonesia’s distinguished female entrepreneurs, founder and CEO of Mobiliari Media Group, Ms Millie Stephanie. Mobiliari (PT Mobiliari Stephindo) is a media company that counts Indonesia Tatler and Forbes Indonesia among its many publications. Ms Millie fostered a lively discussion of her experiences as an entrepreneur with a group 10 WIB club members, and the only thorn among the roses, our German colleague, Justus Kaiser (in picture below, 5th from left).
Millie is a veteran in the publications industry in Indonesia and has also an MBA from which she graduated cum de laude. However, she also had her fair share of trials and tribulations in the early days of her entrepreneurial career. Sharing how her first and unpaid publication project flopped, she realized that “nothing will ever prepare you for life.” Her message to the members was clear and crisp – “Unlearn what you’ve learnt.” Millie continued to share her experiences and pointed out how humans have a need for structure and predictability. Yet, the entrepreneurial path is nothing but predictable. To overcome the fear and doubt that can plague every new idea, Millie encouraged everyone to recognize that every moment is new and to seize that moment where new ideas are born. It is, thus, only sensible to be always present and savor one moment at a time. To do that, we need to be relaxed and go with the flow. Millie continued to emphasize that this does not conflict with the need to strategize and plan. The key to go with the flow is to never be attached to the outcome but to instead focus on the process itself to achieve what we want in life. She cited David Foster, a multiple Grammy Award winner and current Chairman of Verve Music Group whom she had the pleasure of meeting some time back, “Whenever I enter my studio wanting to produce a song, the minute I want to control, I no longer produce anything.”
Millie also shared that her mother is her role model whom she described as hardworking and humble. Having many friends from different background and nationalities, Millie finds her mother the perfect example of a good networker. Millie recalls that she used to be a shy person and would hide behind her mother’s for comfort in various networking events, but she soon realized the importance of networking and that she needed to step up to establish her own network. This helped her to be independent and gain respect from people, thus, supporting her business and alliances.
Another engaging point of the workshop was the sharing of viewpoints from both gender representatives. The general consensus was that women entrepreneurs can earn the respect of their male counterparts by being hands-on in the business. Justus, says of how women can add value to the business, “It is not only about gaining the respect as a peer. Moreover, women can bring aspects into business and the working environment that have a unique value. Especially in teams, women might discuss topics more objective at the point where men think they need to prove themselves in front of others.” Support groups protected by confidentiality, such as Young Presidents’ Organizations (YPO), are safe havens for entrepreneurs and managers, helping them to maintain clarity and emotional balance. After all, entrepreneurship is about living one’s dreams and while tough, it should be an enjoyable journey.
Club member Vida from China (in photo above), was pleased to have such kinds of talks as she managed to get inspired by Millie Stephanie on being a successful entrepreneur, despite the challenges the latter has encountered along the way, “Millie Stephanie shared a lot about her experiences in starting and developing her own company. I feel highly encouraged with her talk, and seeing her of what she has become today make me see myself in the future – a successful entrepreneur. Listening to her recollections of challenges and trials that she encountered, leading her to sometimes doubt her capacity as a woman entrepreneur, yet become successful in the end, makes me feel that I am on the right track. As a woman already in the entrepreneurial domain and shared my own experiences, I feel that I am not alone in this pursuit, and will overcome trials and tribulations, albeit very challenging, as I move along in my chosen career path.” For Justus, Millie brings inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, “Millie inspired us in the point that entrepreneurship can just not be learned studying a book or attending a workshop. It is about having the courage to use your own gut feeling and to try out even when initial responses are very discouraging.”
The evening ended with Millie giving each attendee a copy of the latest Forbes Indonesia magazine that listed the top 40 richest people in Indonesia and who are entrepreneurs.
A WIB event is never complete without some fun and partying. We had a mini feast and celebrated the birthdays of some of the members, too.
We look forward to WIB continuing to scale greater heights and leave a lasting legacy that we, the pioneers, started in2011.
Photos courtesy of Women in Business Club, The NANYANG MBA