While dividing her days equally between her job and her family duties, this lifelong learner executive also finds time to further her professional development and take a course at Harvard.
Cecilia Tjokrosetio is the definition of a modern-day superwoman. She’s a devoted family member, a student at one of the world’s most prestigious universities, and a force to be reckoned with in the business world. One of the roles most people would know her for, however, would be that of Managing Director at PT. Wahana Citra Nabati.
Established in 1999, PT Wahana Citra Nabati is a leading player within the Indonesian palm, coconut, palm kernel, and soft oils industries with an annual production capacity of 300,000 metric tons. The company aims to capitalise on its leading position as the highest quality palm oil producer in Indonesia, with an ample supply of fresh and high-quality raw materials on demand, as well as increased global awareness of environmentally “green” products.
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“My journey started 16 years ago when I first joined the family business. I think it’s been a very life-changing experience for me,” Cecilia explains, “I started my career in investment banking and asset management before I joined the company. I helped grow the company to where it is right now and I think a lot of experiences that happened during that time enriched my life experience.”
“What gives us an edge is that we supply to the major multinational companies. 90 percent of our clients are all in the food industries, and we also serve an important segment in the food industry which is the nutritional oils that we supply to the significant dairy and infant growth milk industry globally,” she adds. Cecilia explains that another thing that gives the company an edge is the fact that they rely on technology that is developed in-house, so it can better serve segments by providing the highest quality nutritional oil to the majority of its clients.
Cecilia has experienced highs and lows as a career woman, “I think the high is definitely in terms of taking the company to the next level and also achieving great things together with my team. The average tenure of our staff is about ten to 15 years, which proves that there’s a very high loyalty in our company.”
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“On the other hand, I think the low would probably be the high stress level that we experience. I mean, talking about women’s point of view, I think we have to juggle and balance a lot of things that give us added pressure or stress in our daily life to manage. Sometimes 24 hours is not enough.”
Speaking of which, Cecilia also shares the largest misconception about what she does, particularly in the palm oil industry, “Where I am right now is a very male-
dominated industry, so the misconception is that we, as female leaders, we face higher pressures to succeed in business as well as the societal expectation of our role as women.” She adds that to overcome challenges, women dedicate a lot more time and energy.
Yet despite all of the challenges on her way, she is also grateful for the advice and knowledge from the biggest influence in her career—her father, who is described as a wonderful role model.
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“My dad is the biggest influence in my life and career,” says Cecilia, “He’s the founder of the company, and when I decided to join the business sixteen years ago after spending thirteen years abroad studying and then working abroad, I learned many things about the business. He is my mentor and advisor whom I look up to. I admire his dedication and integrity, which I have upheld highly in conducting business.”
Cecilia also shares her daily motto: don’t wait until tomorrow, what you can do today, “So, in short, do not procrastinate. I think whatever you can do today should be done today or even yesterday, and if you keep your life in check, you’ll be a happier person,” she adds.
Being a businesswoman with so many responsibilities, we were curious about how Cecilia likes to unwind. “I like to start my day with exercise,” she explains, “So even on my days off, on weekends or holidays, it’s still a big part of my routine. It keeps me feeling positive, and I love the endorphins I get from it.” She also practices meditation from time to time which gives her a chance to refocus.
Sweater, Pants, Bag, Necklace, Earrings: Givenchy; Shoes: Sergio Rossi; Chair: Good Get Home
Cecilia adds, “I enjoy trying gathering with close friends, trying out new food experiences, whether it is trying new restaurants or cooking for close friends and family, and trying new recipes inspired by food that I tried during my travels. I enjoy traveling to unwind, exploring new places, and sharing meaningful experiences with close friends and loved ones.”
Towards the end of our conversation, Cecilia shares her hopes for her future self, “I hope to be able to achieve many things in terms of the company. I recently attended a Harvard course which is the Owner President Management program, it is a three-year course. The experience has been enriching and eye-opening for me. I am excited to apply my critical takeaway learnings to different aspects of my company, and I have a fantastic cohort who inspired me.”
Top, Pants: Major Minor from MASARI; Bag: Givenchy; Shoes: Jimmy Choo; Chair: Good Get Home
“Also, we are expanding our factory to another location and have a sustainability project that I am excited to share about soon. Lastly, I hope to find the time to travel, learn new things and skills, and ultimately contribute towards a regenerative economy.” Cecilia Tjokrosetio has shattered her glass ceiling and proved that with hard work, dedication, and unwavering determination, anything is possible. From the boardroom to the classroom, she is proving that success knows no boundaries as long as you keep trying and work hard. She’s a true inspiration to us all, and the ultimate example of how to stay balanced and have it all.
Photographer Eandaru Kusumaatmaja
Stylist Brad Homes
Stylist Assistant Safina Harys, Bagoes Abyoso & Isabella Harahap
Makeup Artist Caldera
Hair Stylist Tumin