Kartika Handayani

Nationality: Indonesian
Age: 34
Last job title: project manager at Medco Power Indonesia
Previous degree: BSc in geodetic engineering (Bandung Institute of Technology) and MSc in engineering project management (University of Manchester)

1. Why did you choose to go back to school for an MBA?  

“I want to contribute and lead the sustainable energy future. Energy is my love at first sight, but I felt like I was stuck as an engineer in the oil and gas industry. I’m searching for new ways and skills to develop in the renewable energy sector. I know technology, but the art behind managerial skills was beyond me. I needed to know more about finance, strategy, and the commercial side. I found all of this in an MBA. RSM’s MBA focuses on sustainability that I can incorporate in my career with its courses, projects, people and location. It all just matched.”

2. How is the MBA preparing you to do business in a world in motion?

“From Day 1, I felt the class vibe reflects the world and business I want to pursue. We’re from so many countries and have different objectives, but we all want to transform ourselves and our industries. This is the business condition right now. We learn to work together in a new environment and make business sense out of it.”

3. How would you describe your RSM MBA experience so far? 

“I thought I’d do an MBA for my career. I have a plan. But the networking is new and is going naturally. I didn’t expect I would click with 100 people with the same vision: we all want to change something. It’s amazing. I made lifelong friends.”

4. What has been the biggest adjustment for you, while living in Rotterdam?

“I found a job as a project manager in a scale up in renewable energy. I’m getting used to the work culture. I love that it’s very efficient and flexible in how you want to manage your work. There’s respect for each other’s workload. I also like that people are direct, it makes things clear so there’s no waste of time.”

5. What has been the most challenging assignment or course during the MBA?

“I had a great group in the Living Management Project. We tested limits as devil’s advocates, and we had open discussions with constructive feedback. The assignment was to create a workable financial and operational model for the electric trucks’ ecosystem. It was a real issue of the client, and they will bring it forward to their investors to make it happen. Our team made a suitable proposal within two months. It was an exciting project and our mentor helped us untangle complex issues.”

6. In what way has the Personal Leadership Development programme (PLD) affected you?

“People don’t talk about personal issues in Indonesia. I had to learn everything from scratch, for example soft skills like empathy. It was a true sense of different perspectives to incorporate this into business. It will bring me far because I can actively listen and talk to different kinds of people which is productive towards discussion and work happiness. There’s also the art of ‘unlearning’. I’m learning how to revert what I think I understood and how new people and information fit in with what you thought you knew.”

7. How have you utilised the alumni network so far? 

“The most value of the MBA is the networking. I didn’t know how that worked in practice, but now I do. I got a lot of advice and as co-president of the Energy Club, I use the network to connect with alumni within the energy industry. The Career Centre organises great events like company visits and alumni speakers. My MBA career coach helped me a lot with the negotiations with my current company and helped prepare my interview and other career-related opportunities for me.”

8. What advice could you give to people who are considering doing an MBA?

“Go for it! It’s an amazing journey. I first thought it was too far removed from the energy world. But you need the knowledge of hard-skilled business and connect with people and perspectives from other backgrounds. An MBA prepares you to be a leader in any kind of industry.”

9. What does the future hold for you?

“I want to focus on my renewable energy career, and keep contributing to SDGs 7, 9 and 11 by building new responsible energy resources. Hopefully one day I have my own company working towards this, using different combinations to make sure energy and electricity is affordable and accessible. I found a new position and hope I can bring the scale up company to reach their target by 2030. I have a lot of ideas for processes, and I hope I can spread this renewable energy power across the world, for example to segregated areas in Indonesia. I don’t know what the future holds but that would be a great achievement!”