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The power of teamwork: Ferry Arief Sunandar

At the beginning of last decade, some 63 million people in Indonesia lacked access to electricity. In many newly industrialised counties, however, Indonesia’s electricity access is growing, along with the demand and generation of power. Many ambitious players are seizing on the sector’s opportunities – players such as PT Sumberdaya Sewatama, a power solutions provider with 27 years of experience.


Working in support of the effort towards national electrification, while fulfilling growing private sector demand for power, Sewatama operates across the archipelago, focused in remote areas.

At the helm is President Director and CEO Ferry Arief Sunandar, who has been with the company since 2017, having already served in different roles with parent company ABM Group. Ferry joined following his success in improving the performance of an ABM Group-owned logistics company.

Pleased with his performance, the ABM Group board appointed him to Sewatama, and Ferry quickly realised this was an industry in the midst of rapid transformation, driven by policy and regulation changes, rapid technological innovation and social mobility.

Customers are also demanding more from energy providers, not just in reliability and cost efficiency, but also a growing appreciation for environmental sustainability, lower carbon footprints and renewable energy.

Sewatama currently offers services that improve energy efficiency for ‘always-on’ industries, or solar-diesel hybrid power systems.

As the provider continues to meet the demands of this still evolving market, it has had to take a three-pronged approach to transformation – fixing the basics, reinventing and pioneering services and products, and pursuing innovation and creativity.

“To enable this, the first thing to change was to drive revolution in my team’s mindset and admit the crisis that has befallen us – hence the sense of urgency,” Ferry explains.

“Our follow-up to this progress is to then conduct intense and open communication with regards to the company’s future direction and performance, and the need to reskill and upskill our team. In parallel, we reshuffled the organisation, revamped the system, and continued to fix the operation and strengthen the balance sheet.”


Naturally, this evolving market brings in greater competition for Sewatama, with international players bringing as much pressure as local players. Sewatama’s efforts to reshape itself and retain staff are therefore crucial in riding out the market disruption and seeking out the opportunities.

And there are plenty of opportunities – even as this disruption sees a move towards renewable energy, growth in demand is projected to remain consistent through the next decade.

As much potential as the market holds, however, it’s not the only reason Ferry joined the company. Before he’d taken on the leadership of Sewatama, Ferry was drawn to ABM Group due to a shared goal.

“Their mission resonates with mine,” he says. “That mission is to provide decent employment as much as possible to the people of Indonesia. As well as this, I also believe that they exercise and promote good corporate governance management.”

But now that he’s part of Sewatama, perhaps the greatest motivator for Ferry is the chance to help people evolve. “It brings me satisfaction to see them achieve their goal or dream,” he says.

“In other words, I feel more fulfilled if I’ve been a significant contributor to their achievement. With my job, I have the opportunity to develop more people on a larger scale. If you have the best people in place, then you will have the best result.”

Maintaining his team’s level of engagement is also key to having the best people. Ferry says it’s essential to create an environment that “fosters curiosity and a willingness to engage with new ideas” and encourages continuous improvement.

Creating this environment requires actively shaping the behaviour and ideals of the team. “It can be achieved through the continuous efforts of the entire team with the right attitude and behaviour,” Ferry explains.

“I encourage people to always promote positivity around them, starting with trust and respect towards others. I ask my team to argue openly, intelligently and professionally but with a casual discussion mindset. It should be based on facts and data, showing respect to others, allowing them to have the same share of voice, and to listen before applying judgement.”

If you have the best people in place, then you will have the best result.

This focus on continuous improvement goes towards one of Ferry’s central ideals. “I always believe that nothing is ever perfect. This belief has two sides to it, and both propel me forward in positive ways. The first side always pushes me to start new ideas while the other side keeps challenging me to roll a new improvement on top of new improvement, never thinking that we are on the top.”

Ferry manifests this belief through the effort to not just satisfy the customer, but also “delight” them, an effort that starts with Sewatama’s internal processes and goes all the way through to the customers themselves.

For Ferry, process improvement is part of the company’s annual KPIs, and team members who contribute to this improvement are rewarded. This is measured through customer satisfaction surveys, upon which Sewatama quickly acts, before returning to the customer to ensure all concerns are addressed.

All the while, Ferry drives his team to contribute to Sewatama’s mission. “Leadership means achieving a desired outcome by inspiring others to deliver their best because they know they will get their work’s worth in terms of personal growth and satisfaction. This is easier said than done, of course,” he admits.

“To arrive at this leadership stage, you have to earn it. You have to make yourself available and accessible to your team. Set a clear goal, explain why we should get there. Coach and empower them. Show your vulnerability as well and, at the same time, build their confidence, and gain your team’s trust.”

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