BekeleyHaas Full-Time MBA students Remona Moodley, Alejandra Pomar, Peter Tidrick and Michael Young participated in a summer IBD project in Indonesia with a large coal mining contractor company (client name withheld due to NDA).
Quick background: Our project was to help increase productivity in the company’s mining operations through an innovative change management solution. In country, we were to pilot the proposed solution.
The first thing we noticed is that Indonesians love to shop – in shopping malls. Jakarta, where our client is headquartered, has 173 shopping malls, the most in the world, 50 of which are massive and have multiple stories. So, it was only fitting that our first team dinner was in a shopping mall – the Grand Indonesia Mall, the largest in the city, located right in the middle of it. The tapas dinner here was one of the best dinners of the trip and to top it off SKYE, the highest rooftop bar in Jakarta, offered the best views of the city from the top of neighboring Menara BCA building.
We used this week to get acclimated to the client and the culture and to explore the big city. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. As a result, a large majority of people, do not drink alcohol, therefore business deals and professional networking is done over meals as opposed to drinks as is American culture.
Thus, one of the highlights of the week, was dinner with the CEO. All week, we’ve been amazed by the food. This night was no different. We ate at a Dutch influenced tapas restaurant and everything we had was delicious.
Mine time spanned from the end of week 2 to the end of week 3. To get to the mine, it takes a day of travel. We got up before the sun even thought about coming up and bore the non-stop Jakarta traffic to the airport for an early morning flight to Benjarmasin in South Kalimantan. We then met our driver to drive six hours (sometimes it can take up to 10) to the mine site. There’s not much action on this “island” (The Republic of Indonesia is comprised of over 1,000 of them) even though it’s the biggest in Asia and third largest in the world. Most of the people here are farmers. There’s one long narrow road, one lane in each direction, which goes from the airport to mine. Along the road, for 6 hours straight are little small houses made of wood and of varying degrees of completion. We noticed that there were many houses that the big bad wolf could blow down with a huff and a puff. Luckily, the driver informed us that rainy season consists of only rain and heavier rain; they don’t have the strong hurricane like winds that are common in America.
Once we got to our hotel in Tanjung, a town that neighbors the mine site, we had lunch as a team. We were pleasantly surprised by our hotel being that we’re in the middle of nowhere, it’s the only one in town and the nearest hotel isn’t for another 2 hours. After days, weeks, months of anticipation, we were finally going to see the mine. A collective sentiment came over our team: let’s do this. We got into our 4x4s and headed to the site, completed our mandatory safety induction, got our vests and hard hats, and met a few of the supervisors and superintendents who were at the office. We returned to the hotel exhausted after a long day of traveling and working around 7pm to prepare for a 5:15 start the next morning. We needed to be present for a 6am meeting and mine was 30 minutes away.
The rest of our time was filled with touring the mine site and meeting and interviewing the mine workers: operators, foreman, supervisors, superintendents and the mining manager who all couldn’t get enough photos with us foreigners. We were temporary celebrities.
We were amazed by how massive the mine site and equipment are. Being Berkeley students, we couldn’t help but notice the trees that outlined the pit and think of the destruction of what used to be at least 200 acres of land covered in trees and filled with life, which took 100s of years to grow and how quickly (2 years) it went from that to…well, a mine site.
On our last day, our client contacts, who have been working with us closely from the beginning of the project gave us the greatest parting gift: Batik shirts! Batik, a technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to whole cloth, is a big part of Indonesian culture and history. The client has Batik Fridays, which encourages employees to wear Batik shirts along with jeans.