My Jakarta: Matt Nye, IT Consultant

Matt Nye is fresh off the boat. The 32-year-old American has been in Jakarta for a month, having moved here to start an IT consulting business. Born in California, Nye has lived in 10 different US states, but this is the first time he has worked overseas.
Nye tells us how he is adjusting to life here and how Indonesia allows him to combine business with pleasure.

Why Indonesia? 

At first it was the beaches. I came here for a visit two years ago and I went to Bali, Lombok and the Gilis. I fell in love with Indonesia and immediately tried to find a way to come back.

So for the past two years you’ve been dreaming about the beaches while sitting in your work cubicle? 

I’ve told my friends that when I die, I want my ashes to be spread on Gili Trawangan.

What was your previous job in the States? 

I was the director of professional services for the business intelligence practice at a consulting firm based out of the New York City metropolitan area.

That’s sounds complicated but also like a good job. Why did you quit your job during a recession? 

Yeah, well, I felt like I had gotten all that I could in that position and that if I was going to progress I would need to look at other opportunities. The recession factor actually encouraged the decision since competition tends to be the lowest during and especially after a recession. Additionally, an increased demand for technology-driven data services, combined with the investment opportunity in Indonesia and the fact that Asia is going to be the dominant global market in the next decade or so, if not quicker, led me to believe this was a great time to start this venture. 

Have you had experience working with Indonesians?

I haven’t, but I have local partners that I’m working with who are getting me acclimatized. Something I’ve noticed in my job and my personal life is that people across the world have a very segmented view of themselves and their country.  The same struggles you find in the US or Europe market, I’ve heard framed as Indonesian-specific traits; lack of motivation, difficulty in corporate politics, etc. There is the thought that because two people speak a different language their worlds are so far apart that their cultures are vastly different. But our world has become so small over the past 30 years with the Internet and other technologies that I feel cultures have been moderately joined in a way.

What do you do for fun? 

Benhil is fun. They have great street food and at the corner, near Sudirman, is that two-story shopping area that has everything you could want. Few people speak English, so it challenges me to use what little Bahasa I do know. Also, it’s way cheaper and the vegetables tend to be fresher and more diverse than the mall grocery stores.

Have you had a bout of food poisoning yet? 

No food poisoning yet, even though I have braved the food vendors, but so far, so good. I think the amount of chili sauce I ingest kills off all the bacteria.

Have you had experience working abroad before? 

No, although when I was young, I traveled a lot. Once I started my career I didn’t leave the States for 11 years. I had an opportunity to start traveling quite a bit in 2007 and have been exploring many different countries. I jumped at the opportunity to live and work here as soon as it presented itself.

Could you explain your job again, because I don’t get it? 

It’s essentially helping companies understand and manage the information within their organization, utilizing a strong technology infrastructure. With the advent of the technological age, you have access to far more information than before. I think the story goes that there is more information in a single issue of The New York Times than a person during the Renaissance would get in their entire lifetime. The companies that learn to control, understand and empower their employees with that information will be the ones to thrive in the post-recession global economy. Our company has several decades of experience in this and is hoping to share that with Indonesian and Southeast Asian companies.

So what’s your plan for the next six months? 

Professionally, I want to build a name in the market. But more importantly, I want to get my diving certification. I’m planning a trip to Karimunjawa in April and want to do some diving.

If you had to survive on $10 a day, how would you spend it? 

On printing a resume and an ojek [motorcycle taxi] to take me to apply for a job so I wouldn’t have to live off $10 a day.

How is your Indonesian? What words have you learned? 

“Tolong saya tolol ” [“Help, I’m stupid”].  I think this phrase can be used in almost every situation. The other essential one is “ satu lagi ” [“one more”].  I’ve started counting in Bahasa when I work out. I’m switching to counting in thousands, which gets some interesting reactions from people in the gym. Either they think I’m amazingly fit or I’m delusional.

Nye was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Matt Nye, IT Consultant

Picture by Iwan Putuhena

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My Jakarta: Tineke, Veteran Athlete

Take a long, hard look at that picture. Tineke will be 80 years old in June. She’s won so many medals over the years that she’s simply stopped counting them. She’s been running, sprinting and jumping since the Sukarno era and she’s still got gas in the tank. Tineke’s life is action-packed and she shows no signs of slowing down, either on or off the track. 

Which athletic events do you usually compete in?

Jumping, sprints and relay. I’m good at the long jump, triple jump, 100- and 200-meter sprint, and relay races; in 1988 I broke the 4 x 100-meter relay world record in Taiwan at the Fifth Asian Association of Veteran Athletes Games. 

How many medals have you won over the years?

I’ve lost count. Well over 200 gold, silver and bronze medals from both national and international competitions. 

That’s quite an achievement. How often do you win? 

I always guarantee to bring back a medal in every competition that I compete in. Sometimes, I can win between three and five medals in one meet. 

Which was the most memorable competition? 

Hard to say. I have enjoyed every single one of them and they all mean something, but the most memorable one was the 1995 World Athletic Veterans’ Games in Buffalo, New York. 

What made it so special? 

My family was living there at the time and they got to see me compete. Also, it was a big deal because it was my only tournament in the United States. Even though I only won two bronze medals for the long jump and triple jump, the Indonesian Embassy recognized my achievement and awarded me a free trip around the United States. 

Where else have you represented Indonesia? 

Everywhere. I’ve been to Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, Brunei, Malaysia, South Africa, Japan, England, Finland, the United States and many more. I’ve been around the world for free. 

When is your next competition? 

The next one will be in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in December 2010. 

How long have you been running? 

I’ve been running since I was old enough to have a boyfriend [laughs]. I was 17 when I started training. 

How old are you now? 

This coming June I will be 80 years old. 

When was your first big competition? 

It was 1951 at the Second National Games in Jakarta. I won a gold medal in the 4 x 100-meter relay race. 

What age category are you in today? Do you often compete with the same people? 

I compete in the age group for 75–80 year olds and I often see familiar faces, like competitors from Japan and India. When you don’t see them any more, they’re usually dead [laughs]. 

How do you feel when you represent Indonesia at the international level, win a gold medal and hear “Indonesia Raya” [the national anthem] being played for everyone? 

I’m moved, of course. I feel proud to represent my country, but that doesn’t mean that I love the system and the government. 

What else do you do besides participate in athletics? 

Sports are pretty much my life. But I was also a physical education teacher at the Santa Ursula school. I started that when I was 22. 

Do you still teach? 

No, I stopped teaching in 2003. Nowadays, I only give private swimming lessons. I don’t receive a pension for being a veteran athlete or a retired teacher. 

What other sports do you like? 

I enjoy swimming and hiking, but I don’t hike any more; the last time I did that was when I was 70. 

What’s your personal message to your students? 

Look at me as an example, you can do and try any sport you like, but just focus on one that you are really good at and go from there. Don’t worry about winning, but maximize your training, and it’s important to know your limits. If you don’t win a competition, it’s not the end. 

Do you follow a strict diet? 

I used to watch what I ate when I was younger, but as I get older, sometimes my mouth and stomach demand good food. Nowadays, I just eat anything I like, but I also take vitamins. 

What will you do when you get too old to run? 

I’m going to participate in race walking. 

Do you race walk around Jakarta for practice? 

I enjoy using public transportation. I still get around by motorcycle taxi, bus or public minivan. I only walk when there’s a traffic jam. But nowadays I really have to be careful not to get hit by a car or motorcycle [laughs]. 

What do you do for fun? 

I like to watch movies, go to music concerts and plays and readings at TIM [Taman Ismail Marzuki arts center ]. I’m just enjoying my life.


Tineke was talking to Iwan Putuhena

Original interview was published in The Jakarta Globe

My Jakarta: Tineke, Veteran Athlete

Picture courtesy of Tineke