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Leading by example: Heri Susanto

Being a successful leader isn’t limited to the hours you spend at the office, according to Heri Susanto. Rather, he’s a firm believer in practising what you preach and acting with integrity 24 hours per day.

Heri Susanto, Managing Director of Rentokil Initial Indonesia

“It’s impossible to be a good leader without being a good person,” he points out. “I strive to be a good person and, in my work, I demonstrate that. In Indonesia, people won’t follow you if you’re not a decent person.”

When Heri joined Rentokil Initial Indonesia as Managing Director in 2013, he felt like he’d met his perfect match. “I have a passion for being a people person,” he says.

“And the company’s culture is totally people-oriented, with SRT – services, relationships and teamwork – at the core of the entire business philosophy. If you don’t have happy employees who feel valued, if there’s not good collaboration, then you’re not going to be able to deliver. So every day, we encourage our employees to work together and always to respect each other. And, of course, that’s meaningless if I’m not leading by example.”

Under the larger Rentokil umbrella, which employs 28,000 staff across 60 countries, Rentokil Initial Indonesia provides high-quality pest control and hygiene services. Heri credits extensive travel with helping open his eyes to alternative ways of thinking – a trait he considers essential for any strong leader.

As well as honing his skills in supply chain management at Ohio State University in the US in 2006, Heri’s work over the years with Maersk and DAMCO Indonesia has taken him from South Korea and Singapore to Europe and the Middle East.

“When you’re in a new environment with a different culture and meeting people from different backgrounds, you have a lot of opportunities to shift your views, expand your knowledge and learn about the most effective kinds of leadership across various industries,” he explains.

After more than two decades spent working in finance, shipping and logistics, the move to Rentokil Initial Indonesia and, with it, the transition into a vastly different industry, presented a whole new set of challenges and learning opportunities for Heri. He was keen to explore them. “I needed something different to sink my teeth into,” Heri says.


“I also strongly believed that the integrated pest management and hygiene that Rentokil provides had, and still has, enormous potential as an industry in Indonesia. “We have a population of more than 270 million on about 17,500 islands, and less than 10 per cent of people are aware of pest control, so there’s an enormous amount of room to grow.”

Applying his prior knowledge and years of experience to the role, Heri quickly identified problem areas that could be improved and developed. “A lot of pest control companies operate in very conservative ways here,” he says.

“So to bring in new technologies and digitalisation, and run the business in a more modern way was an exciting challenge for me. I want Indonesia to reach international standard soon.”

However, 2020 presented an entirely new set of challenges for Rentokil as COVID-19 has changed the economic landscape, forcing some business sectors to shut their doors for months during the lockdown across Indonesia.

While many still remain closed, Heri and his team are working hard to continue supporting these businesses and prepping their recovery when they are ready. The team has also geared up their innovative and creative thinking to sustain its service offering while taking care of the health and safety of the people.

“It’s been challenging,” he concedes. “But it’s forced us to be creative. We’re providing innovations to help combat the virus, such as providing air purifiers, and eventually, I believe that hygiene awareness will continue increasing from here onwards.

In Indonesia, people won’t follow you if you’re not a decent person.

People will demand safer working spaces and cleaner air, so by offering this technology to them now, we’re setting them up to benefit, even when the pandemic is over. If we have the right innovation, if we’re able to convince our customers and change the market, then our future is very, very promising.

“We’re really investing in Indonesia, utilising new technology and processes that have been successful in other countries that Rentokil operates in. We can share, copy and learn from them, and this is one of the benefits of being part of the global company.”

At the end of the day, Heri’s strategy for success is a simple one, rooted as always in his belief that being a good leader goes hand in hand with being a good person. “We employ so many people and create so many jobs at Rentokil Initial Indonesia,” he says.

“And working with people means that you’ll inevitably face new challenges every day, but you will also learn new things every day. So you have to love what you do, serve with your heart, listen more and never give up.”

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