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