Why Indonesia’s youngest Director credits Thomas with her rapid career progression | Thomas.co

Susanna Hartawan blog header

Susanna Hartawan, Managing Director of Jakarta-based Thomas affiliate NBO skyrocketed to the top of her industry, becoming Indonesia’s youngest director at age 28, and regional director at 30. We talk with her about why she attributes her success to Thomas International, what digital transformation looks like for the industry, and the future of HR.

Why have you chosen to work for Thomas for as long as you have? 

I'm proud to work for Thomas because I'm proof that the Thomas assessment tools are very reliable. Thomas changed my life and helped transform me from a young professional into the entrepreneur I am today. My first encounter with Thomas assessment tools was in 1994 (so it's been very long time), when I first joined NBO Singapore’s management excellence programme, a leadership development programme for the top talent in South-east Asia.  

Four years after my first Thomas assessment, the Personality Profile Assessment (PPA), I was promoted, and became the youngest director in Indonesia at age 28. At the age of 30 I became a director for the region. I was recognised by Ernst and Young, winning their Most Promising Entrepreneur Award in the Asia Pacific (APEA) region, and by the Ministry of Women as one of the most inspiring women in Indonesia.  My career progression has been very fast, and I believe that one of the reasons is that I know my personality and behaviour and I modify it.  

My assessment showed that I had the potential to be an influencer and an entrepreneur, and that is where I am today. Thomas has a holistic approach to talent management and a cutting-edge product which combines technology, psychology and data to integrate people’s characteristics, grow businesses and deliver life-changing experiences. It’s also very easy to understand and highly accurate, helping managers to recruit and develop their talent. 

What does the future of HR look like?  

In terms of rising trends right now, it’s about technology. Previously, recruitment was very driven by local search companies, but we have seen tremendous change. Now, companies can acquire their own system to undertake the assessment process themselves without involving third parties. The battle for talent has also intensified, and attracting and retaining top talent has become resource-intensive. Many professionals in Indonesia are more educated and less jobs are available.  
Technology will become a major force. Companies are already in search of digital-savvy candidates who have good learning ability and growth mindsets, as well as experience. This is especially true for senior hires. Thomas is focused on meeting the demand for end-to-end innovations in the recruiting process from sourcing, applying, selecting, assessing and video interviewing until the final selection. 

The second trend is virtual recruitment technology. The global pandemic prompted an unavoidable uptick in virtual hiring, so we need to have an end-to-end virtual recruiting process. Thomas’ tools specifically address the need for employers to remotely assess which candidates have a working style that is suitable for the role.  

A third trend is increased internal mobility. Employees might be reluctant to abandon their current employer, opting for job security over new opportunities. LinkedIn reports that since the outbreak of the pandemic, internal mobility has increased by nearly twenty percent. Thomas’ system makes it easier to review employee assessment data for talent management purposes.  

What do the next ten years look like for Thomas?

The Personal Profile Analysis (PPA) has been a great basis for any assessment needs across functions and industries, but we need something that is more targeted to answering questions about the specific qualities and traits that differentiate one person from another. This is ‘talent’ or ‘potential’. In Indonesia, the perfect combination of assessments is the High Performance Trait Indicator (HPTI) and General Intelligence Assessment (GIA). This combination gives the employer the ability to map the employee in two dimensions: their leadership potential and their learning agility. Many of our clients use these assessments in both recruitment and talent management.  

The World Economic Forum recently published new guidance about competencies, so we will need to align with that. In Indonesia, we are very focused on competencies, meaning that all employees and leaders need to be mapped under organisational competencies. Thomas already has excellent tools that offer competency-based insights (such as HPTI, GIA, PPA and TEIQue), but we need to keep pace with digitalisation. We need to become a technology company which provides end-to-end human capital solutions. Since the pandemic, our clients have become more advanced. Digital transformation is happening nationwide for both large corporations and SMEs. Every organisation is now looking for digital-age assessment tools. 

Why are you passionate about the HR industry?  

I'm very passionate about human capital because I find that it can really be a catalyst that helps people to change their lives. Working for Thomas is such a rewarding experience for me.  I have grown with Thomas. Thomas’ global presence and brand have a strong reputation and proven best practise in terms of product, solution and methodology. That is where I am right now.  

For the past seven consecutive years, Thomas Indonesia has been a strategic partner for Economic Review’s Indonesia Human Capital Award, in which all major corporations nationwide participate. For the past six years, we have also been proud partners of SWA Magazine on the ‘Creating Leaders from Within’ Award and Conference. So I am very proud of my team because they work so hard, and because they are genuinely invested in the company.