Chip Off the Old Block: Anderson Tanoto Carrries on with the Good Work

Sukanto Tanoto is one of Asia’s most successful entrepreneurs, a reminder of what can happen with the right combination of graft, will, and ambition. The billionaire founder of APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas currently helms RGE as chairman; RGE manages the various business groups mentioned amongst others. With a business worth 18 billion in assets and a workforce of 18,000 employees, Sukanto Tanoto has undoubtedly been a bona fide success.

Sukanto Tanoto’s success becomes all the more impressive once one considers the principled ways through which he has conducted his businesses. The veteran businessman strongly believes that businesses can profit by putting the community first, and the 5Cs principle that he espouses is testament to this belief. This principle, which emphasises the importance of doing good for the Community, Country, Climate, Customer, and Company, has unsurprisingly become a compass by which all his businesses find their direction. With 50 years of value creation and experience under his belt, Sukanto Tanoto’s legacy is rock solid, and looks set to continue through his son, Anderson Tanoto.

The rising star, the successor, the son

Chip Off the Old Block: Anderson Tanoto Carrries on with the Good Work

The youngest son of Sukanto Tanoto is a rising star in the business. The 28 year-old graduate of the famed Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is currently a Director at RGE, as well as a board of trustees member at Tanoto Foundation, the philanthropic arm started by Sukanto Tanoto and his wife, Tinah Bingei Tanoto.

Doing the right thing, the right way

While he may share the family name, Anderson Tanoto certainly took no shortcuts in his rapid rise to the top. Determined to learn the ropes right from the bottom, Anderson first gained experience as a consultant at Bain & Company, where he worked for two years; thereafter he made the switch to RGE as an assistant manager. It was a mark of his early maturity and vision, that he refused to be pushed straight into an upper management position, Anderson credits his success  to his understanding of the company at every level.

Today, Anderson Tanoto is masterful and self-assured, deservedly so; he is well respected for the many changes that have made RGE more transparent, efficient, and community-centric as the company moves into the digital age, which brings along its own set of opportunities and challenges. As Sukanto Tanoto celebrates 50 years of business, he is surely at ease, as Anderson waits in the wings to lead RGE through the next 50.

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Dreams Do Come True: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL Helps Entrepreneur Under Community Development Programme

Sukanto Tanoto is a man who wears many hats. He is a dedicated family man, a caring boss, a passionate philanthropist, and a firm believer in community development. Some might even say that he could double up as a part-time philosopher. Yet people more often know him as the charismatic chairman and founder of RGE, the global natural resource giant. It’s not hard to see why. RGE is truly an empire; it manages several other big names in the industry such as APRIL, Sateri, and Pacific Oil and Gas – the companies collectively employ 60,000 people and own assets worth over USD 18 billion. That Sukanto Tanoto built all this in just 50 years, only affirms his legend amongst those in the know.

Breeding success, together, for everyone

More impressive than his staggering success, however, is his principle-based approach throughout. The billionaire entrepreneur espouses the 5Cs: creating good for the Community, Country, Climate, Customer, and Company. It is a philosophy of creating shared value, one that Sukanto Tanoto firmly insists on. And his companies have taken heed too, with many community development initiatives sprouting up as a result. Consequently, individuals and communities have benefitted from Sukanto Tanoto’s philosophy – one such example is Husni Thamrin.

Local entrepreneur soars with APRIL’s Community Development Programme

Dreams Do Come True: Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL Helps Entrepreneur Under Community Development Programme

Today Husni is a successful businessman who runs PT Nilo Engineering, a heavy equipment and truck rental company, with his wife Rohani. His company is a relative behemoth in the local area, with assets totalling Rp 100 billion. While he may have success today, it wasn’t all rosy for Husni. The 37 year-old first joined APRIL’s Community Development programme in 2001, with only his father’s truck to kickstart a garbage transportation company. As a result of the structured approach used by Sukanto Tanoto’s APRIL in the Community Development Programme, Husni received both training as well as avenues to beef up the economic resources available for him to beef up his business. In addition to his natural savviness for business, it was only a matter of time before Husni would take off.

Today, Husni’s fleet includes 30 heavy equipment and 25 trucks, all of which are rented by PT RAPP, APRIL’s Indonesian subsidiary. He is thankful for the Community Development Programme, for having nurtured many other entrepreneurs like him.

Under Sukanto Tanoto, Woodfibre LNG Creates Great Benefits for the Community.

Sukanto Tanoto has never been one to rest on his laurels. The self-made man, who struck it out on his own following the death of his father when he was seventeen, is a bona fide success story. Starting out in the spare parts industry, the eagle-eyed opportunist jumped into the plywood manufacturing industry during Indonesia’s shift into value-added processing. He hasn’t looked back since, and today he is chairman of RGE, which manages companies such as APRIL, Sateri, Pacific Oil and Gas. Unsurprisingly, he has been dubbed the ‘Resource King’ by GlobeAsiaSukanto Tanoto’s companies are all major players within pulp and paper, palm oil, viscose rayon, and LNG industries.

Changing with the times, but not our values

With the world moving towards consuming more renewable sources of energy, Sukanto Tanoto’s newest venture capitalises upon this expected demand. Woodfibre LNG, subsidiary of Pacific Oil and Gas, recently entered a partnership with China-based Guangzhou Gas Group to build a 2 million tonne per year LNG terminal by 2020.

Under Sukanto Tanoto, Woodfibre LNG Creates Great Benefits for the Community.

Growing in Canada, with the community

The Guangzhou company first agreed in 2016 to buy 1 million tonnes of LNG annually for 25 years from Woodfibre LNG’s facility  –expected to be complete by 2020 – in Squamish, British Columbia, Canada. The Woodfibre project, considered an underdog amongst the other bids for the project in Canada, has received significant support from both the government and people, and it is easy to understand why.

Sukanto Tanoto’s strong commitment to the community is distilled into his 4Cs philosophy: creating good for the Community, Country, Climate, and Company. It is a philosophy that has ensured all his companies act in the same manner, to always consider the welfare of the community first. Not only does the Woodfibre LNG Project ensure the sustainable production of quality, renewable energy, the project is expected to provide a substantial boost to the local job market. Almost 1,800 jobs are expected to be created during the construction process, with a further 450 jobs for when operations begin. These jobs, Woodfibre LNG have promised, will be filled locally as far as possible –a testament to the company’s commitment to leaving any community it interacts with better than before their arrival.

Sukanto Tanoto uses his business expertise to help others realize their potential

Tanoto Foundation Scholars with Mr Willie Sia from Tanoto
Tanoto Foundation Scholars with Mr Willie Sia from Tanoto Foundation

Many businesses experience financial success in their field, but it’s important for them to realize that they don’t get there alone. Once a company reaches the goals that it set for success and begins to grow, it shouldn’t forget those less fortunate. Such is the sentiment of a few highly successful business owners, including Mr Sukanto Tanoto.

Big business needs to get involved in the community

It’s no secret that Mr Sukanto Tanoto believes in enriching the lives of others by sharing his success to the extent of being involved in innumerable community projects and philanthropy. He is considered a highly successful entrepreneur in his own right and has shared many tips on how successful business men and women can and should give back when they attain their goals. Here are just two ways in which your business can be economically and socially responsible:

  • Get involved in sponsoring local events. The Tanoto Foundation is involved in many local environmental clean-up events, student educational events and more.
  • Scholarships. These are a great way to give back to the community and to also ensure the future of your community. Without student funding, skilled and talented youth will never realize their potential and bring economic relief to your community. Mr Tanoto bestows the Indonesian community with many scholarships, particularly for inventive students or those with an interest in paper production.

Keep up to date with community events and scholarships hosted and provided by Mr Sukanto Tanoto by visiting the Tanoto Foundation website regularly. Students are also invited to apply for the scholarship program offered by the foundation.

The Developing World Needs More Entrepreneurship Training

Sukanto Tanoto became one of Indonesia’s most successful executives through his hard work, ability to seize and make the most of business opportunities, and dedication to lifelong education. Mr. Tanoto heads RGE Group, a $15 billion corporate family that includes agricultural, forestry-based, and energy development companies. A former student at the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Tanoto additionally heads the nonprofit Tanoto Foundation, which works to deliver university scholarships, teacher training, entrepreneurship workshops, and other services with the goal of empowering Indonesia’s underserved citizens and making the country more economically competitive.

Mr. Tanoto understands the value of public-private partnerships in fostering innovation and strategic risk-taking among new entrepreneurs. That is the reason for his foundation’s sponsorship of regular lectures through its Entrepreneurship Series. The series hosts distinguished businesspersons who share their knowledge and experiences with the emerging generation of independent business leaders in Indonesia.

The series thus aims to assist the rapidly developing country with the goals expressed in the recent National Entrepreneurship Movement launched by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. In 2014, Yudhoyono went on record saying that, as one of the world’s fastest-growing economies in possession of abundant natural resources and untapped potential, Indonesia is poised to offer numerous opportunities to entrepreneurs, who can in turn give back to the country by contributing to its ongoing development.

In a recent article in Forbes magazine, United States Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker wrote of her address at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit held in Morocco, and made points that are particularly applicable to entrepreneurship in growing economies such as Indonesia’s. She believes in the power of peer-to-peer networking and mutual information-sharing among entrepreneurs, as well as in the necessity of government structures that support, rather than impede, the formation of new businesses. Among Pritzker’s ingredients for a thriving entrepreneurial culture are strong public-private-academic partnerships, a level playing field, and access to sufficient capital for everyone. In addition, she believes that governments must enact strong laws that protect intellectual property rights and make it easier for businesses to form and dissolve as needed.

Sering Village Becomes Agricultural Focal Point

Since 2012, the Tanoto Foundation has worked through its corporate partner Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP) to develop sustainable agriculture projects to benefit the people of Riau Province. Currently, the foundation supports a demonstration farmland plot that it hopes will become a source of community empowerment.

RAPP, one of the companies under the flagship of Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL), maintains large-scale pulp milling operations in Riau. By supporting the cultivation of a two-hectare plot of peat land in Sering Village as a pilot program, RAPP has demonstrated its ongoing concern for the wellbeing of the communities in which it does business.

Honeydew harvest in Sering Village
Honeydew harvest in Sering Village

In addition, RAPP has furthered its community involvement through a partnership with Bogor Agricultural University’s research projects on tropical horticulture. The collaboration focuses on best practices in the cultivation of peat lands, like those so plentiful throughout Riau Province.

So far, the demonstration plot has cultivated, on a trial basis, honeydew melons, tomatoes, bananas, chilies, and other produce. Over the long term, RAPP plans for the project to provide economic empowerment and self-sufficiency for the residents of the village. Sering has the potential to become a central hub for the harvest of a variety of produce.

APRIL and RAPP make up one of the major lines of business within the $15 billion RGE Group headed by Sukanto Tanoto, whose personal and professional dedication to fostering healthy communities is exemplified in his family foundation. The Tanoto Foundation is committed to alleviating the stresses of poverty in Indonesia by supporting higher education scholarships, entrepreneurship training, and a range of social service and local infrastructure development projects. Furthermore, APRIL, through its corporate focus on wise management of the forests and woodlands that drive its profits, works to further the adoption of environmentally sustainable business practices throughout its industry.

Niluh Djelantik Designer Part of Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series

 In late 2014, the Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series once again hosted businesspeople who have distinguished themselves by their success in Indonesia. A project funded by the nonprofit Tanoto Foundation in partnership with the economics faculty at Universitas Indonesia, the lecture series has previously drawn luminary speakers such as Indonesia’s recently elected president, Joko Widodo. As part of the Tanoto Foundation’s goals of supporting individual entrepreneurial development and public education programs, the series strives to offer students practical knowledge based on the experiences of well-known businesspeople.

Niluh Putu Ary Pertami, the designer and creative director behind the luxury footwear brand Niluh Djelantik, joined Garuda Food CEO Sudhamek AWS to take turns at the podium. Niluh, whose brand is now available in fashionable European retail outlets, gained her love for style early in life. During her youth on the island of Bali, her family was not wealthy, and her mother routinely bought Niluh’s school uniforms and shoes several sizes too big, in order to economize the cost over several years’ growth. However, her mother also encouraged her ambitions, and sent Niluh to study business in Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta. There, the young entrepreneur learned organizational and professional skills through both study and practical, on-the-job training.

Niluh Djelantik Shoes
Niluh Djelantik Shoes

Her lecture to the Tanoto group of student entrepreneurs focused on her experience as the head of a brand that it took her a decade to launch from one small local manufacturing shop onto the international stage. She believes in seizing opportunities as they arise and dedicating constant attention to improvement and innovation.

Sukanto Tanoto’s RGE Group of corporations, through its founder’s vision and dedication, has earned a significant share of the world’s business in energy development, palm oil and wood pulp production, and other manufacturing industries. Mr. Tanoto’s personal and professional focus on constant analysis, development, and innovation echoes the themes in Niluh’s address to the students. Through the Tanoto Entrepreneurship Series, he hopes to continue to assist emerging young business leaders with their efforts to drive economic and social growth in Indonesia.