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20 May 2024

Alvin Sariaatmadja: Driving Growth through Digital Transformation and Innovation

The Winner of the 2024 Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award

Tech scion Alvin Sariaatmadja champions the transformative potential of innovation and technology in propelling economic growth, a belief rooted in his firsthand corporate experiences. Alongside his adept entrepreneurial skills, he embodies this conviction.

In his acceptance speech upon receiving the 2024 Australian Alumni Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Alvin Sariaatmadja expressed his global aspirations, saying, “I aspire to inspire entrepreneurs worldwide to continue making an impact and generating employment, thus contributing to our nation’s prosperity and fostering positive change.”

Since assuming the role of President Director of PT Elang Mahkota Teknologi (Emtek) in 2015, Alvin’s fervour for digital technology has reshaped the company. Under his guidance, Emtek, initially a personal computer distributor established over 40 years ago, has emerged as a leader in media technology, digital infrastructure, and healthcare.

Addressing the recent B20 Summit Indonesia, Alvin highlighted how innovation and technology-enabled Emtek to venture into previously inaccessible domains. He remarked, “Industries such as e-commerce, retail payments, digital banking, and online healthcare, once requiring substantial capital and time investment to establish infrastructure, became accessible. Technology has rewritten the rules, accelerating business scalability and development.”

Career Development

Established in 1983 by Alvin’s father, Eddy Kusnadi Sariaatmadja, Emtek has undergone a remarkable evolution from its origins as the exclusive distributor of Compaq computers in Indonesia. Today, this Jakarta-listed corporation boasts a diverse portfolio spanning over a dozen businesses, including broadcasting, digital payment, and e-commerce to a chain of hospitals.

Despite Emtek being co-founded by his father, Alvin initially chose a career path outside the family business. After earning Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Finance degrees from the University of New South Wales, Australia, in 2005, he embarked on a career as a financial analyst at Melbourne-based investment bank Lazard Carnegie Wylie. In this role, he honed hisfinancial modelling and strategic advisory expertise across various sectors, including retail, transportation, financial services, and healthcare.

Reflecting on his time in Australia, Alvin remarked, “I have many fond memories of my time there. As an Indonesian who spent ten formative years in Australia, I am immensely proud to witness the strong bond between our two countries across different sectors. It is truly inspiring.”

Alvin joined Emtek Group in 2009 and worked his way up in several directorial positions until he became the President Director in April 2015. At the helm of Emtek, Alvin has focused on digitising the company’s diverse businesses. One of the notable milestones under his leadership was the acquisition of digital payment startup PT Espay Debit Indonesia Koe (EDIK) in 2017, which operated the e-wallet DANA. DANA was among the early startups introducing a cashless payment system, now ubiquitous in Indonesia.

In 2019, Emtek’s subsidiary, PT Mediatama Televisi, launched NEXPARABOLA, an affordable subscription satellite television service catering to viewers in urban and rural areas. With NEXPARABOLA, Indonesians can access a range of content, including international and domestic football competitions.

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 prompted significant transformations in the global healthcare industry, with companies investing in technology to provide remote patient services, including telehealth and online pharmacies. Recognising the opportunities in the healthcare sector, Emtek acquired a controlling stake in hospital operator PT Sarana Meditama Metropolitan in November 2020.

“I view our ongoing efforts as a continuous journey, one that presents unique challenges in transforming traditional businesses with technology. It’s a complex process, far more challenging than creating new ventures from scratch, as it requires reimagining existing structures from the ground up,” remarked Alvin, 41, at the B20 Summit.

“COVID-19 has compelled us to accelerate this process, forcing a reevaluation of business processes, supply chain and customer interactions.”

Another significant milestone for Emtek was Bukalapak's initial public offering (IPO) in August 2021. The IPO raised IDR 21.9 trillion (USD 1.36 billion), marking the largest IPO in Indonesia’s capital market history. Bukalapak also became the first Indonesian unicorn to be listed on the Indonesia Stock Exchange.

Alvin’s successful leadership has earned him accolades, including being named the Best CEO in Online Application and Services by the weekly magazine Tempo and news website IDNFinancial last year. Additionally, he is a member of the Media International Advisory Council, a forum where industry leaders convene to discuss developments in the Southeast Asian media industry.

Government policy

Drawing from his experience in digitising Emtek Group’s business, Alvin underscores the importance of innovative and forward-looking government policies that foster wealth and job creation, ultimately leading to trickle-down and multiplier effects that spur economic growth.

Alvin cited the Indonesian Government’s initiative to mandate the midstream and downstream processing of nickel ore domestically to establish a comprehensive electric vehicle (EV) supply chain – from mining and smelting to EV battery manufacturing. This policy, he noted, has generated substantial value creation, job opportunities, and knowledge transfer from developed nations to developing countries.

“Effective policy-making, when implemented adeptly, can yield significant value. Based on these experiences, I firmly believe that innovation and technology are powerful drivers of economic growth.”

Alvin also envisions potential collaboration with Australia in the technology sector. “By fostering greater cooperation across various domains, we can unlock synergies. For instance, in the technology realm, Indonesia possesses ample nickel resources, while Australia boasts significant lithium reserves. Collaborating to establish a battery ecosystem would be highly beneficial,” he elaborated after the Gala Dinner commemorating the 75th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations between Australia and Indonesia.

“I earnestly hope that as we celebrate our 75 years of diplomatic relations, this partnership will not only endure but flourish for centuries to come,” Alvin added.

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