Business Accomplishments for a Better Community

Friday, February 7, 2014

Progress from Racial Discrimination to International Recognition

Chinese descendants in Indonesia had unpleasant past. Many of them experienced racial discrimination under the regime of the second president, Soeharto. The same thing happened to Sukanto Tanoto, a successful entrepreneur from Medan, North Sumatra, and one of the richest Indonesians according to Forbes. He was able to overcome difficulties caused by racial discrimination and he emerged as one of leading figures in business.

The Rise after Racial Incident

Sukanto Tanoto’s first encounter with racial incident in Indonesia happened in 1966, when the Chinese school where he studied at was closed by President Soeharto due to his anti communism sentiment that made him abolish everything related to China, including Chinese public schools. At that time, he had not even gotten any chance to learn Indonesian and English languages formally. At the tender age of 17 years old, Sukanto had to stop his education and started earning income.

Like many Chinese people in Medan, Sukanto first worked as a common trader, but then had his own oil pipeline contractor company. His second business started to gain success when oil crisis happened in 1972, as he suddenly got a lot of orders from oil companies. However, his true success happened when he opened his third business, Inti Indorayon Utama, in which he built the first pulp mill to enter potential business of pulp export.

Now, he is the leader of two giant company groups, Raja Garuda Mas International and Asia Pacific Resources International. He was even able to be listed as Carnegie Mellon Highlands Circle, thanks to his generous regular donation to the university.

Secret of Success

Since he was abruptly cut off of his formal education, Sukanto Tanoto always keeps his passion for learning for a long time. After acquiring enough money, he was finally able to study at a university in INSEAD Jakarta, before continuing to a business school in France. He often goes to international management courses at leading international universities. Sukanto Tanoto believes that unending passion to learn is one of his keys of success, and he will never stop learning.


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