'People Power' Business
By Muhamad Al Azhari
Daniel Wong, chairman and founding partner of regional human resource management consulting firm SRW&Co., started the business in Jakarta back in 2003. It has not been an easy road to build and sustain the company's business, as it faced stiff competition from both global and local players right from the start.
However, along with his co-founder and business partner Jolanda J. Sadrach, they were able to succeed, turning the company into one of the leaders in its field in Southeast Asia.
Armed with his experience working as an HR consultant and practitioner in a wide range of industries in Asia, Daniel was able to offer a full spectrum of HR consulting services and expertise.
SRW&Co., which celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, now has a diversified clientele consisting of medium and large businesses, state-owned enterprises, government agencies, conglomerates and multinational corporations. One of the services that distinguish the company from its rivals is executive education, which attracts top government officials, chief executives, boards of directors and boards of commissioners in the private and public sectors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Through its flagship Asean Global Leadership Program (AGLP), SRW&Co. collaborates with a consortium of world-class business schools in Britain, the United States and China. These include the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, London Business School, University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business, New York University Stern School of Business and Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business.
Daniel, who has 35 years' management and consulting experience in human resources and general management, shared the story of his company's journey of transformation, providing valuable insights into the management consulting and executive education industry, while giving a few entrepreneurial tips along the way.
"I left work at the peak of my corporate career to take a one-year break to do farming in my home state of Sarawak on Borneo Island, before I set up shop with my co-founding partner," Daniel said.
He said it was a very welcoming break from the hectic corporate rat race and that he thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being a farmer in a remote village. Interestingly, he said many of the insights he gained in the process and his experience as a farmer proved actually very helpful in preparing him for the challenges of establishing a business.
Daniel had been a professional in his industry, responsible for various top positions at multinational corporations, before becoming a full-time entrepreneur. This included a stint as country manager for leading global professional services firm Towers Perrin (now known as Willis Towers Watson) in Malaysia, and also the first country manager and director for Malaysia at global human capital and management consulting firm Hewitt Associates (now Aon Hewitt).
Daniel moved to Indonesia about 20 years ago, working with several local conglomerates in a human resources role during his early days in the country. His last corporate role was that of group vice chairman at a family-owned conglomerate before he decided to try his hand at farming.
He decided to take up a full-time role at SRW&Co. in 2006 and having had the opportunity to recharge his batteries during the farming endeavor, the veteran human resources consultant and practitioner wasted no time in rolling up his sleeves to start working with his partners in transforming and rebranding the company.
Together, they implemented a new vision and mission and redefined the corporate values and culture to support the business strategy.
He said "people power" is one of the company's core beliefs, embedded in the tagline, "It's the People Inside." This affirms a commitment to attract, develop and retain the best talent. The company also established some clear ground rules for the team, identifying "no politics" and "teamwork" as two of the most important principles for managing the business and its people.
"Our core business is human resources management consulting. We provide the full spectrum of consulting services, just like our global competitors. Whatever the big boys are doing, we are also offering," he said. Indeed, the company also bids for projects against global firms and has won a few, to its credit.
SRW&Co. offers a framework that ensures the alignment of HR programs with client's corporate objectives. The company classifies its HR consulting services into three core areas: organization development, people management and people development.
Within these classifications, there are some complex frameworks, which include organizational design, performance management, reward management, workload analysis, manpower planning, job evaluation and grading, and talent and competency management.
However, Daniel said it is not the sophisticated methods and systems that win clients' confidence.
"At SRW&Co., we develop user-friendly, practical and simple solutions. We are committed to help our clients implement the systems we designed," he said.
Re-educate the Leaders
Above all, Daniel said the leader of a company is what matters most, because he or she drives the organization's entire strategic agenda.
"For us, the HR consulting to design process and system is great, but when it comes to implementation and execution, we feel that leadership commitment is key, because people on the boards of directors and boards of commissioners, and one level below the board of directors, will have to support the design and execution of HR transformation," he said.
"There is no point in us being hired by the HR division to come in to do all the key performance indicators, balance score cards, and other things, if we don't enjoy the support and commitment from the CEO, or leaders at the top. It will not fly. What typically happens, is when they change the BOD or BOC, everything goes back to square one," Daniel said. He added that one of the ways to properly support HR design and implementation roll-out is to educate top leaders about their role as agents of change.
Such thinking saw SRW&Co. expand its business in the field of executive education under the AGLP in 2009. After 20 editions over the past 10 years, there are now some 350 AGLP alumni, comprising members at the C-suite and board level in the corporate sector and among top public-sector policy makers and regulators in Southeast Asia.
AGLP participants include a good mix of top-level leaders in the public and private sector in Asean.
"We have a good mix of private-sector and public-sector participants," Daniel said. Among high-profile AGLP alumni in Indonesian are a minister and three deputy ministers, chief executives of large state-owned enterprises and conglomerates, and several owners of small and medium businesses.
"The AGLP's hidden agenda is to take leaders away from the office and out of the country to a global business school so they can be 're-educated,' to refresh their thinking and recharge their intellectual batteries. It is also an opportunity for them to reflect on their roles as leaders and reaffirm their passion and commitment to their mission and contribution to the organization and people they are leading," Daniel said.
"Going to a global business school is also part of the humbling process," he said, adding even though it is just a short course, AGLP participants get the opportunities to talk to world-class faculty professors, which helps them refresh their knowledge on globalization, innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership – the four core themes of the AGLP. "They also benefit tremendously through peer learning and by sharing knowledge and experience with other participants. In addition, business networking among Asean participants is also an important part of the AGLP agenda," he said.
According to Daniel, many AGLP participants realize they have to re-learn many things or go back to basics, so that when they return to the office, they can re-strategize their company's business plan and put some of the new ideas to work with renewed passion and commitment to their roles as leaders.
Daniel and his partners believe Indonesia will continue to offer bright prospects for their type of services. He said the government's current restructuring program for state-owned enterprises provides consulting companies with plenty of opportunities.
"For example, the government wants to merge similar industries into one holding company. Within this restructuring, they need to harmonize their HR systems. That's why there will be a lot of work for HR consulting … including quality executive education programs to up-skill and beef up the leadership competencies of senior executives."
As for SRW&Co., Daniel said the company plans to add one or two representative offices in the Asean region within the next few years. It currently has its main office in Jakarta and another in Kuala Lumpur.
"It is people who make or break a company, and the company's solid foundation rests squarely on its commitment and passion for the mission of contributing to the management and development of people as an important asset of any organization," he said.
"We had a challenging but rewarding 15-year ride in building and sustaining our business, and it is a journey worth all the pain and joy. Looking ahead, we still have much room for improvement and new milestones to achieve; we want to keep growing the business without compromising the mission and principles of our company, and we believe we are in business for a purpose. That purpose is what will drive our company and keep us going, with the support of our people, our clients and our business partners," Daniel said.
Source: GlobeAsia, july, 2018 http://www.globeasia.com/companies-to-watch/people-power-business/Back to List