My Jakarta: Stock Analyst Sebastian Tobing

Iwan Putuhena

Sebastian Tobing is an associate director of equity research at UBS Securities Indonesia. Every day he pores over financial statements and monitors the markets to give recommendations to local and foreign investors.

Born and raised in Jakarta, Sebastian studied economics in the United States and worked in New York City, where he honed his skills. Then in 2004, he decided to bring his knowledge back home.

Here Sebastian offers his thoughts on the economy, and also opens up about life in Jakarta and how problems with traffic and pollution reflect the city’s economic situation. Continue reading “My Jakarta: Stock Analyst Sebastian Tobing”

My Jakarta: Dendy Oktariady, Modeling Agency Head

Dendy Oktariady has had his finger on the pulse of fashion since he was a teenager. Today, he is the director of Fame Management, which consists of a modeling agency, stylist and casting divisions and a whole lot more related to the serious business of fashion.

He took some time off from his busy schedule to talk about the growth of an industry that has ignored the global financial crisis, and how he’s working to put Jakarta on the map as the world’s next fashion capital.

How do you spot new talent?

We have talent scouts everywhere and they give us links to the models. If their look is in line with the Indonesian market then we invite them to meet with us. Height and look is what we focus on. The Indonesian market doesn’t really go for pale skin or blond hair; they are more into the tanned and dark look.

Who is your role model?

Tyra Banks, because I think she’s a model with a brain. I’m not a model myself, but I think we need more models like her to be able to build the fashion industry in Jakarta.

What is the most popular work for your models? And how do you measure their success?

Magazines, music videos, commercials and fashion shows, of course. For magazines, we always target the cover for more exposure. Each model has to get at least five covers during their six-month probation with us. If they can achieve that, then we will extend their contract for up to five years … or until they get old [laughs].

How did you first get into modeling and the fashion industry?

I started when I was 18 years old. I worked at Fashion Cafe with Debby Sahertian — she was the [public relations head] at that time and I was the event consultant. My job was to choose models for fashion shows every week, so since then I’ve been part of the growth and development of models in Jakarta.

Where did you develop your fashion acumen?

I studied economic management at Trisakti University. Then from 2004 to 2006, I studied in Milan under Luca Boccelli as a stylist and personal shopper. There I learned how to handle a fashion client, not just for a company but also on a personal level. I also worked as a freelance writer and contributor for fashion magazines, answering reader questions about shopping and fashion.

Europe, especially Milan, is the fashion capital of the world. Why did you come back to work in Jakarta?

I’m Indonesian and I think our country needs more talent in this industry, so why not focus on my own city? I was one of the first people to invite foreign models to work at Look Model in Jakarta. When I was in Milan, working in an agency as a model scout, I cast hundreds of them every day and they came from everywhere. At that time I saw an opportunity. Why can’t we do the same in Jakarta?

When was your agency established? How many models do you have right now?

I started my agency in October 2006. At the moment we have 30 models — 10 internationals from Brazil, Russia, Poland, Holland, Germany and the Philippines, and 20 local models.

How do you support local designers?

We pay attention to new local clients, boutiques and designers. We work with them for a more reasonable fee compared to our international clients. We want to help them, especially the up and coming Indonesian designers.

How’s the fashion business in Jakarta, especially during this global financial downturn?

I can sit here in my office while putting on nail polish and the phone still rings … Indonesia’s weird, I’m not so sure if people in Jakarta are being affected.

As the director of a modeling agency, do you get invitations to parties?

Of course, because I’m the image … queen of the damned [laughs]. All the clubs in the city give VIP treatment, so I take my models and talent there. That’s the thing about the entertainment industry; we entertain each other.

What’s the best part about your job? And what are the challenges facing models?

I love my job, especially if I have the chance to work with an airhead model, then that makes it interesting, fun and challenging for me … there’s an art to it.

In the book and movie “The Devils Wears Prada,” the fashion industry is portrayed as tough and mean. Is it really like that?

People in the fashion and modeling industry tend to be mean and stuck up, because they have high levels of confidence. If there is something in the set that is not right, we can terminate the contract in a second. For example, if one of my models has a bad attitude, I’d rather just let her go because I don’t want it to be stressful and ruin our image.

How do you get away from the stress of Jakarta?

The difference between my agency and others is that I like to connect and bond with my models. We do everything together — travel, work out and watch movies. I don’t see my models as dollar signs with a face. And in return, hopefully, they don’t look at me as the big boss.

Dendy Oktariady was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Dendy Oktariady, Modeling Agency Head

My Jakarta: Hotel Bartender Jamal

Iwan Putuhena
Jamal, short for Djamaludin, is a veteran bartender at The Bar in the Four Seasons Hotel. After 10 years behind the mahogany, one can only wonder at the stories he must have, or whether he will need a new liver sooner or later.

Jamal took a minute to explain Liquor 101, what it was like to meet Prince Charles and the kind of clientele he serves at The Bar.

Working at the Four Seasons, you must meet a lot of interesting people, artists and public figures. Is there anyone in particular who left a really good impression on you?

I meet a lot of people in here but the best experience was serving Prince Charles. When he had dinner at the British Embassy, a couple of Four Seasons employees were selected to serve him. And I was one of them, as a bartender. He drank a gin martini with a twist of lime. After the dinner, he came up to us, chatted for a minute, thanked us and shook our hands. He was a really humble person.

What type of person or character do you enjoy serving?

I think every character is interesting — it doesn’t matter if they’re a tourist, businessman or a lady at the bar. I enjoy talking and connecting different people. If there is one businessman sitting at one end of the bar and there is another on the other end, if I think the characters or personalities will blend, I will try to introduce them so we can all have a good conversation together. If ladies are sitting at the bar … [laughs]

What do they usually talk about? Do you hear any common topics of conversation?

Well, a bar is a place where they curhat [sharing, letting it all out] so I’m used to that. Especially after a few drinks, they will talk about almost anything. We have to be kind of like a shrink. But that’s not all — for tourists, we have to know how to share knowledge and information about places to go, restaurants to try, sightseeing and city landmarks.

What is your favorite liquor and why?

I enjoy drinking vodka because it’s tasteless and can be served straight or with ice. Plus, it’s easy to combine with any kind of juice, soda or other liquor. I can make a variety of cocktails, martinis and mixers, because vodka is kind of neutral.

What’s the special drink of Jakarta? What’s in it?

Beer Pletok. It was originally created in Jakarta but the mix can be slightly different in every bar. Originally it involved local vodka, Cointreau and lime, topped off with beer. It will get you drunk.

What do girls in Jakarta order? What about the guys?

Girls usually get a mojito, anything sweet and a little sour … or Baileys. Guys usually order martinis or whiskey. New drinkers usually order a Long Island iced tea or Jack [Daniels] and Coke.

Where did you learn mixology?

I learned back when I was working at [TGI] Friday’s. They have a good training program and at the time, in 2000, they had the best fully-operating bar in Jakarta. Friday’s was the first time I saw people bartending and from that point on I was interested in becoming a bartender. I learned the basic ingredients, history of drinks, taste, presentation and selling different brands, from house pours to premium.

Many people drink and drive in Jakarta. What do you do if your customer is drunk and asks for another drink, when you know that he or she is driving home?

In that case, I will not serve them. We have to be sure that a person is within their reasonable limit of drinks, especially if we know for a fact that they are driving. I will politely tell them the reason and that I’m concerned for their safety. Working in a five-star hotel, it’s one of the standards that we learn.

What’s the difference between a bartender at a nightclub and a five-star hotel?

There’s not much difference, but I think for the young bartenders, it suits them well to work in clubs. They have the opportunity to gain skills and learn the trade, since clubs are for entertainment; besides mixing drinks, they have to do juggling and tricks with bottles or fire. In a five-star hotel, I have to be semi-formal. There’s more of a focus on service and maintaining a standard of drink and taste. As you can see, the guests here are more mature.

Working in the hotel, are you scared of bomb threats or another terrorist attack?

Yes, of course I think about it because the terrorists don’t care who their victims are. Most of the people who get hurt are hotel employees who have nothing to do with politics or any reason for the terror. We’re just working here to make a living, the same reason as guests who are here for business. But I feel safe at the Four Seasons because it’s pretty secure.

What’s the best part about being bartender?

Being creative, meeting all kinds of people and working with my co-workers. Being a bartender is not as stressful as working in an office, because every day is different, a new story, problem and experience.

Continue reading “My Jakarta: Hotel Bartender Jamal”

My Jakarta: Charity, Ernst & Young Consultant

Don’t even think about being sexist around Charity. She’s the epitome of the modern-day woman: strong, independent and not willing to take lip from any man.

As a consultant for Ernst & Young and a young professional woman in Jakarta, she has a great deal to put up with. However, her drive and motivation don’t stop her from taking a break once in a while to visit a spa, pursue her photography hobby or jet off to foreign climes, all the while searching for a place where she may just be willing to drop her career and settle down.

What exactly does a consultant at Ernst & Young do?

Basically EY is known for its audit services, but we also offer advisory services for clients. We serve corporations and nonprofit organizations.

Without naming a client, what was the most difficult project or task that you have had to perform as a consultant?

Right now, actually, I’m working on a project for a state utility company and the task for our team is to help the management formulate a strategy to secure their fuel supply. It’s complicated because it’s for the sake of the public and a major part of the economy. So, complicated and challenging, but a learning opportunity for me, and good for my career development as well.

As a team leader on a project, how do you feel about working with men older than yourself? Do you get the respect you deserve?

Of course. I think in this company there is equality between men and women. And I think this particular project is a good opportunity for me to work within a male-dominated government institution and demonstrate that Indonesian women are capable.

How do you feel about there being a growing number of professional women sitting in positions that were once only given to men?

Of course, I think it’s a good sign. I mean I can only speak for my industry and within consulting services — and only the private sector. I’m not sure how things are in the public sector.

What is your position right now at EY?

I’m a manager for business advisory services.

Are there a lot of professional women in your company?

There are many women in the consulting business in general. In our division, it’s about 50-50, and most of the managers are women. That’s because women have what it takes and also endurance [laughs].

What do you do to get away from all the stress?

If I’m in Jakarta, I go for a day of pampering, maybe to a spa for a massage and a body scrub. And if I have the money and time I like to travel. For example, a short break to Bali or Jogja, basically traveling and taking pictures.

Where do you want to travel to next, and where would you like to settle?

Well I haven’t found my ideal place to settle, but on my next trip I’m going to Thailand for a week, just to lay out in the sun and run away from my problems. I think I would really like to live and work in Spain or Italy, that’s ideal. But in the long run, for retirement, it’s Bali.

OK, so what changes would you need to see happening in Jakarta to convince you to stay here?

No traffic of course, and I’m able to earn major dollars [laughs]. And it’s easy and comfortable to walk around or take public transportation. Imagine walking on the sidewalk, taking the subway and being in a smoke-free environment.

You enjoy photography. What do you shoot and why? And where is the best place to shoot in Jakarta?

In terms of Jakarta, I really like shooting the faces of the people, portraits. So it could be anywhere. There are so many different kinds of people and expressions. But I also like travel photos, landscape and architecture. My favorite photography location is Greece, especially Santorini. But in Indonesia I think the Gilis are very nice.

OK, since your name is Charity, how do you give back to society?

Someday I would like to have a foundation to empower Indonesian women. There are a lot of women who are financially dependent on their husbands, but when something happens — a death or divorce — sometimes they don’t have another source of income. So I would like to give training to such Indonesian women, especially those with children, to enable them to support themselves financially in case they cannot depend on anybody else.

You’ve studied abroad, in St. Louis and Rotterdam. Think back on those days. What did you miss the most about Jakarta back then?

The food and affordable massages … I mean real massages — and family of course.

As a career woman, how do you picture yourself 10 years from now?

I hope that by then I won’t have to work for money, but have money working for me and I can just chill in my vineyard in Italy.

Charity was talking to Iwan Putuhena.

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Charity, Ernst & Young Consultant