Culture & Business in Jakarta

Visit to the Istiqlal Mosque  

After fighting our jetlag with hours of sleep, we started our second day in Jakarta with a sightseeing tour. The first stop was the great Istiqlal Mosque. Not only is an impressive fact that it is the largest Mosque in Southeast Asia but it was also built by a Christian architect. Moreover, an amazing fact is that on the opposite of the building was a cathedral, which was built by a Muslim Architect. Surprisingly, a nice guide showed us barefoot around the Mosque. They were some interesting explanations about that famous building he has on every spot.  

Later on, we arrived at the Kota Tua, an old town in Jakarta. The beautiful site contains Dutch architecture which remained from the colonial time. By crossing the Fatahillah Square as the only European tourists, a lot of Indonesian were approaching us and shyly asking to take a photo with them. Of course, we agreed. Although, it is known that Indonesian are reticent, we were surprised that they really were approaching. Indonesian are usually taking photos and videos from a certain distance.  

After walking in the heat, we arrived in the oldest coffee shop of the town, called Café Batavia. We were very glad and happy, that we get served our cold drinks right away. The interior was fully equipped with portraits on the wall. 

After visiting the Café Batavia we headed back to our bus where we directly drove to the next planned item. It was scheduled to visit the manufacturing plant of Sandmaster since the place is located outside of Jakarta it gave us the opportunity to get a glimpse of Jakarta apart from the city centre.  

Company Visit Sandmaster 

The CEO of Sandmaster Mr. Erwin Spichtig was already expecting us and gave us a very warm welcome as we arrived. Initially, he started with a presentation about the company where he gave us a short company introduction. Sandmaster has a product range of different sandblasting machines which can be used in various industries, for example for implants in medical technology or in mechanical engineering. About ten years ago the margins were melting and the production in Switzerland was no more longer profitable.   

He chose Indonesia to be able to maintain the product range for various reasons, for instance the barriers to set up a company are quite low in comparison to the Asian region it is more unproblematic for Europeans to get around as well the freedom of speech is for Asian standards considerably high.  

After presenting detailed insights about the company Mr Spichtig told us more about his personal experiences. His key learning was that he would be more generous in terms of budget and time frames, which is likely to get underestimated when starting a business in a foreign country. Though Indonesians have a good basic education the most challenging thing for him was to find the right people who have the right attitude, are eager to learn and to develop themselves. While receiving over a hundred of applications for one job this can get very difficult.  

It is not possible to go with a Swiss mindset to run a business in Indonesia as it is in Switzerland. That is why a crucial success factor for his business is to combine the strength and weaknesses of the Swiss and Indonesian culture. Indonesians are characteristically in his point of view very patient and loyal if you provide them a familiar work environment.  On the other hand they tend to have a less discipline. It was challenging for him to show them the importance of Swiss quality and precision standards.  

Not far away from the company, the CEO of Sandmaster showed us the urban planning scheme of BSD City in the marketing office. This area has the size of Singapore itself and is developing very fast. After this impressive insight of the gigantic project, Erwin Spichtig invited the whole ExploreASEAN group to a traditional Indonesian dinner

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