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High jump into Jakarta
Published on Friday, 10 Feb 2012
Ian Robertson
Indonesia country head, Robert Walters
Photo: Robert Walters

Hot on the heels of a 6.5 per cent rise in its gross domestic product (GDP) last year, Indonesia remains one of Asia's fastest-growing economies. The country also boasts one of the region's fastest-growing job markets - a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed by recruitment firms. Rick Gangwani talks to Ian Robertson, country head for Robert Walters, about the company's first office there.

What was the rationale behind the Indonesia expansion?

Indonesia has witnessed strong GDP growth, a growing middle-class, and increased foreign investment in recent years, all of which are key to justifying our opening a new office in the country. Also, it was a response to requests from existing clients in the region to work on positions based in Indonesia.

There is clearly demand for us to leverage our regional relationships and then to develop the domestic clientele once we have established ourselves. 

To what extent were you involved with the planning of the office?

I was highly involved and worked closely with Mark Ellwood, the managing director of Robert Walters Asia, to plan the office. 

Who are the key senior executives there aside from yourself?

Ivy Lim is the administration manager. We also have an experienced team of six consultants. 

Have you brought in any executives from your other offices?

Yes, one expat from Holland who currently works as an IT recruitment consultant. 

What is your current head count and do you plan to add to this in the short term?

The current head count stands at nine and will be increased to 12 or more by June this year. 

How will Robert Walters differentiate itself from the local players in the market?

Leveraging on our strong brand as an international recruitment consultancy, we will strive to differentiate ourselves by delivering stellar service to both clients and candidates. A strong management team and experienced consultants with local knowledge will set us apart from local agencies. 

What is the scope of your operations in terms geography?

Our key focus is now Jakarta, with the possibility of branching out to other parts of the country, such as Surabaya, once we have firmly planted our base. 

Which industries are you currently focusing on?

Banking and finance, sales and marketing, human resources and fast-moving consumer goods. 

Are your clients predominantly local or overseas based?

Our clients are predominantly foreign companies with local operations. About 20-25 per cent of these are companies from Europe, the United States and Australia that are hiring in anticipation of opening offices in Indonesia. 

How about the candidates you source?

Our candidate database consists of both local and returning Indonesians. 

Is it difficult attracting overseas candidates to Indonesia?

No, we have many CVs coming in from overseas candidates. Many middle and senior management expats want to come to Indonesia for its many job opportunities. 

What are some of the major challenges you have encountered in this market?

While there are many job opportunities, the continued shortage of quality candidates poses a significant challenge. Candidates also require a major pull factor to attract them to a new role, as many firms are willing to fork out generous counter-offers to retain talent. 

What does the day-to-day involve for you?

I start work at 7.30am and tend to the numerous assignment requests from clients through the day. I also attend meetings in the evening as work hours tend to be longer than in other countries due to delays arising from traffic congestion.