By Sandiaga Uno
Amidst the new passion for the world of work, Bank Summa gave me the opportunity to continue my Master of Business Administration education at George Washington University, (GWU) Washington DC. Overseas America no longer feels strange to me. I enjoy learning assignments from this workplace. Beautiful dreams burst into the air, of course after completing this Master’s education I was able to pursue a higher career at Bank Summa.
The atmosphere of DC where there are far more Indonesian settlers than in Wichita also makes me more comfortable. The first year of education at GWU went smoothly. I also have the opportunity to be actively involved with Indonesian student associations in America.
The end of every dream, good or bad, is awakened in consciousness. My sweet dream in the first year of college at GWU was suddenly confronted with a reality that had never been thought of before.
In the country, Bank Summa experienced liquidity difficulties which led to cases of bad loans. Om Williem, —William Soeryadjaya—, intervened to take over the ownership of Bank Summa and then pledged its share ownership in the most valuable assets of the Soeryadjaya family, Astra.
But all the efforts made by Om Williem, who ultimately lost ownership in Astra, could not save Bank Summa. The impact on me who is far away in America is really felt. My scholarship stopped just in the midst of my passion I wanted to immediately complete this Masters program. For me at the time, it was truly unethical in the midst of a big storm that was being faced by Bank Summa, to ask about the continuation of the scholarship.
In 1992, I seemed to be holding a one-way ticket again. Beautiful dreams that had flown in the sky of dreams, one by one broke like a helpless bubble. The re-examination again tested my instinct to survive. To complete the study coupled with the cost of living in America, my savings at that time were far from enough.
There is not much I can save from working for one and a half years at Bank Summa. I felt at that time, it was no longer worth bothering parents with the difficulties I faced. The problem with the termination of this scholarship is that I keep a meeting from my parents until I have successfully completed my studies at GWU. The only option available is to find a job and with money from the work I can continue to study.
When life challenged me to survive, at that time I was prepared to do any work as long as it was halal and enough to complete the study. It even occurred to be a dishwasher or cleaner. Fortunately, with above average academic achievement, I was able to apply for a job as a lab assistant at GWU. At that time I was paid US $ 3 per hour. I worked for a long time, because then the opportunity for higher-paying jobs became tutors with a salary of US $ 6 per hour.
Working while studying in a country really becomes a test of life discipline. I have to be clever at sharing time, so that work can support the lecture I’m taking, not the other way around. Here I also realize the importance of setting targets and priorities. My target at work is to get money to complete college. This means that lectures are a top priority that must be supported by my sincerity in work. Praise be to God Almighty, I am able to go through it well. I did not just succeed in completing studies at GWU, but returned to graduating with a summa cum laude.
I am twenty-three years old when I take my Master of Business Administration degree from George Washington University. With that young age, there is a temptation to accept other jobs in the midst of uncertainty surrounding Bank Summa. The dream of working in a large, well-established company is still possible, I may re-assemble. But since childhood, I used to be loyal to one thing.
I am loyal to one sport, basketball. I am loyal to one woman, from dating to becoming my wife, Nur Asia Uno. I am also loyal to the field of finance that I study. And in my opinion it is important to be loyal to banks that have given me the opportunity to work and then even to continue Master’s studies in America. Even if my career has to end, I want that decision to come from people who hire. I returned to Indonesia, still with the status of a Bank Summa employee.
On December 14, 1992, Bank Summa was liquidated by Bank Indonesia. I lost my job. My blind loyalty seems to be overwhelmed by reality. Looks like on the surface. But what really happened was those important and valuable times in my life. I have the opportunity to take a closer look at how Om Willem, a business mentor I admire so much, manages the crisis. From Om Willem I learned, that business is more than a matter of profit and loss but responsibility. So much will be sacrificed by Om Willem to return the customer’s money at Bank Summa, until finally Astra was built and he grew up in ownership.
In the long run, the crisis experienced by my place of work provided a far greater lesson when I later handled companies including banks that were “sick”. I often think, if at the point of crisis in 1992 I decided to leave Bank Summa just like that, of course I would never be able to walk this far in the business world. That is the lesson from the loyalty tree whose fruit I learned in the future.
Life goes on. Clockwork is never waiting for us to move. I decided to return to complaining about fortune overseas. One Way Ticket takes me to a neighboring country, Singapore. Faithful to the field I work in, finance, I work as a finance and investment analyst at Seapower Asia Investment Limited. A year later, my career rose when I joined MP Holdings Limited Group as an Investment Manager.
In 1995, when I was twenty-six years old, I joined NTI Resources Ltd, Canada as Executive Vice President. This work brought me back to North America, precisely Calgary Canada. At that young age, I was able to generate “six digit” dollar income. If success is measured by the speed of making money, then at the age of twenty-six I have succeeded. But the thing is, my life wheel never stops. In fact the wheel rotates faster than the wheels of life of many people.
With all the achievements I got, at that time I felt I was able to buy a “return ticket” from the one way ticket that was given by my father. The dreams of adolescence about an established life have come true. The reality was even more complete when I decided to marry my girlfriend from adolescence, Nur Asia Uno in 1996. One year later our first daughter Anneesha Atheera Uno was born. But precisely in the midst of this perfection of life, a very large test of life awaits me … (continued)