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Handi Kurniawan has extensive global experience as a human resource executive at General Electric, Standard Chartered Bank, Sinar Mas and Jardine Matheson, having been based in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei and the United States. In addition to being a sought-after speaker in Asia, he is the author of Go Global – Guide to a successful international career, a bestselling career book in Indonesia, Global Career, The Brain Master and Great Advice – published by Gramedia, a leading publisher in Indonesia – along with numerous articles for newspapers and business magazines.

Handi has an MBA from the University of Western Australia, Master of Education at the University of Michigan and post graduate diploma from Japan America Institute Management of Science, Hawaii.  

Please tell us a bit about your journey since UWA

I have now worked and lived in seven countries since graduating from UWA. Working in global, multinational companies provides great opportunities to experience collaborating with people from different backgrounds and cultures. During my time with General Electric, I had overseas assignments in Beijing and Hong Kong; Standard Chartered Bank gave me posts in Taipei, Malaysia and Singapore. Following these experiences, I returned to Jakarta, Indonesia before taking a year-long sabbatical to pursue another master’s degree at University of Michigan's Rackham Graduate School. I now work for Jardine Matheson, in Hong Kong.

How was your time at UWA important to your life today?

Perth is a special place for me. It was the first overseas city that I visited as a 17 year old during a Senior High School student exchange program. My host parent at that time was a UWA graduate and he showed me the campus. That visit, especially the images of Winthrop Hall, stuck in my mind and I decided to get my MBA from UWA seven years later.

What’s your passion and how do you want to make a difference in the world?

My passion is to help people develop and unleash their full potential. After graduating from high school, my difficult financial situation almost prevented me from entering university. That was when I first realised just how precious education is. After entering the workforce, I caught up on my higher education degrees – including an MBA from UWA and Master of Education in Michigan and also received a scholarship from Japan America Institute of Management Science, Hawaii. 

In the workplace, I become formal and informal mentor to both our professionals/talent and executives within the organisation, along with colleagues outside the company. This resulted in being regularly asked to speak about career management, leadership and management. Since I have wide global experience, working in different cultures and countries, I also teach cross-cultural management and have written best-selling career books, including Go Global – Guide to a successful international career, Global Career and Great Advice, discussing practical tips for the workplace for students and professionals at all levels.

How do I make a difference? When you meet me, you will feel the positive energy. You will be energized. I live with a simple motto: 'Be kind always and make people feel better after they meet you'.

What is the most interesting aspect of your career? Where could it go from here?

Aside from having very exciting global roles and working in various parts of the world, I was able to make a career switch from Finance to HR. I spent my first six years following graduation working in Finance, before transitioning to HR and been working in that field for more than 14 years. I've loved every moment of it, because I love people.

Making a career switch in the corporate world was not easy. You are hired and paid for your skills, experience and expertise, and it requires bosses and leaders who are willing to give you the opportunity to start afresh. You need to prove that your decision is right for them and you. I’m happy I made the choice and met with leaders who were willing to give me that chance. This experience also makes me willing to take a bet on other people and give them the opportunity to succeed.

You can purchase Great Advice for Solving Everyday Challenges at Work and in Life here.