There is no room for stereotypes at Royal Golden Eagle (RGE). Founder and Chairman Sukanto Tanoto believes in running a truly professional company since it started in 1973, under the name Raja Garuda Mas. This professionalism shows in the solid organisation that he has built from scratch because of his emphasis on the skills and capabilities of all this around him. This ultimately helps the building of trust, which Is a core value at RGE.
Sukanto Tanoto had big plans for his company but he knew he could never do it alone. He knew that he needed the support and trust of his employees to make RGE into the world-class corporation it is today. And that’s how he ran RGE and continues to do so – he chose a team regardless of ethnicity, gender, or background. His main criteria is that his staff were capable and had the right skill-set to carry out their duties to the best of their abilities.
Let us share a story with you as the perfect example. Anisa Handayani is a Sustainability Officer in the Department of Environmental, Sustainability, and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at ASIAN AGRI , a subsidiary of RGE. She is in charge of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification and the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) system, which are huge responsibilities.
Doing work that has always been synonymous with men, Anisa became the very first woman to be recruited in this. The stereotype was that women couldn’t work on plantations, and so the tradition of it being male-oriented lived on for a long time.
However, Sukanto Tanoto was determined to abolish stereotypes and firmly instructed all companies under RGE to give everyone a fair chance. In keeping with Tanoto’s word, ASIAN AGRI recognised the promise in Anisa and knew she could be trusted to carry out her duties, and she has done very well indeed, having been in her role for almost five years and continues in her quest of proving that women can work on plantations.
Here’s a similar story from another one of RGE’s subsidiaries, APRIL Group, which operates in the pulp and paper sector. Meet Lita Safriana, who works as a forklift driver at PT Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper, an APRIL Group business unit. Before this, most forklift drivers were men, however thanks to her, mindsets and stereotypes have changed.
Lita was able to prove that women can do the job of a forklift driver just as well as men can, in a world where it was believed that only men could do the job. In the beginning, she encountered many awkward moments in the course of her duties, because all eyes would be on her when she was driving the forklift. However now, no one even takes a second look because Lita has proven that she is perfectly capable of transporting the paper from the Flexi area to the warehouse with the forklift.
Tanoto manages RGE with utmost professionalism
Sukanto Tanoto does not allow any negative influences in the running of his companies, and applies his professionalism in every aspect. Even his family members are not immediately given key top positions in RGE, and they too have to prove their worth by showcasing their skills and capabilities. Tanoto’s family members who want to be part of RGE are not given any special treatment and have to go through the same employment process as everyone.
Take Anderson Tanoto for example. Sukanto Tanoto’s youngest son did not even join RGE immediately after he graduated from college. He worked as a consultant at Bain & Company first because he wanted to gain some experience. When Anderson finally did join RGE, the highest of principles were still met, and he started at RGE working in RGE production centres in factories and plantations.
A similar situation was experienced by another of Sukanto Tanoto’s children, Belinda Tanoto. Before working at RGE, she was an analyst at Morgan Stanley and gained valuable provisions for her future career at RGE. She learned a lot about how to build relationships with stakeholders in China, which could be applied when it became a marketing force for the family business in Shandong, China.
Another of Sukanto Tanoto’s daughters, Imelda Tanoto, truly embraces this professionalism that RGE is run by and believes it to be for the betterment of the company. It has become so much a part of RGE, no matter how much the company has evolved over time. These principles still hold true, and the pursuit of finding the right person for the job is still done with the right means.
Anderson Tanoto once stated that his family does not see RGE as a family business and so even though his father is currently in control of RGE, no favouritism has to be given to any member of his family. RGE is a company that is managed professionally by those who have capabilities, and the Tanoto family see themselves as a family of business people, and not as people of a family business.
RGE’s development has always been about the best group of people to run the business and that is why Sukanto Tanoto’s professionalism values are held firmly. There are no differences between professional managers and family members because everything relates back to one’s capabilities, without any titles attached.