Jason Will finds that diving and business management have one thing in common: both provide new, unexpected and interesting discoveries.
“Diving is an amazing activity and I have learned so much from it. Looking at the surface of the ocean, one cannot imagine how much color and life there is underneath the waves; and so it is in business,” said the managing director of Santa Fe Relocation Services Indonesia.
“It is important to take a fresh approach to what is not obvious, be open to new ideas and adopt best practices to rise above the crowd and deliver better services.”
The Australian national first came to Indonesia in 1999 for two years during the economic crisis and was struck by the contrast between the rich and poor.
“Right outside my window I could see the slums, where even though people lacked material things, they appeared to be happy with big smiles. Even during brief elevator rides, there were conversations and a feeling of camaraderie that I had not seen anywhere else,” Will recollected.
This brought him back to Jakarta in 2004, as Santa Fe Indonesia’s managing director. It was an opportunity with his wealth of experience to take a leadership role, in which he could utilize all his skills and have a positive impact on the business.
“It is rewarding to work in an environment that allows for innovation and forward thinking, and offers the chance to usher in a ‘sense of change’,” Will, 45, said.
“I have been fortunate in my career to have had extensive and diverse experiences in several different organizations and I enjoy applying this experience in competitive and challenging environments to achieve successful results.”
He wakes up every morning with the intention of making a difference and the knowledge that his efforts have had a positive impact at work and on the people around him. This approach is reflected in his proactive efforts in planting trees and building a new office and warehouse in close collaboration with the Indonesian Green Building Council to ensure green certification standards.
The steps he has taken in understanding the business priorities have led to positive changes that have resulted in the company’s continued growth, with branches opening in Bali and Surabaya.
Will is inspired by Lars Lykke Iversen, the CEO of Santa Fe Worldwide, whose core philosophy entails “seeing is believing” and leading by example.
“I am approachable for my staff and expect them to be well prepared and organized if they want to discuss any issues. I believe in being decisive, positive and consistent in my work. One can get a lot done by setting firm ground rules that everyone knows and can follow, without being too inflexible.”
He believes that attitude is more important than experience when selecting new staff as it is far easier to train staff with the required skills and knowledge than to try and install the right attitude.
He explained that “the key to success is to find and surround yourself with skilled professional individuals that you can trust to help you manage the business. Also, being in a service industry, it is important to hire people who also derive the same feeling of satisfaction when they make their clients happy.”
He added: “It’s all about empowering your staff to learn how to deal with challenges. Creative problem-solving needs to be continually encouraged and developed.”
Knowledge, good communication, being supportive, keeping cool in crisis situations and keeping his staff motivated — those are the keys to success, according to Will.
With his education in business and hands-on experience, he encourages his management team to maintain a mature and professional image at all times and not to engage themselves in workplace conflict so that they, in turn, set a good example to their staff.
He also finds that corporate team-building exercises are useful to increase effectiveness among his staff and achieve greater productivity.
Despite his hectic work schedule, Will finds time to be the ambassador for Internations in Jakarta, which is a social networking forum for the expat community and meets every month. He is currently house-hunting with his wife and is a keen diver and golfer in addition to futsal, which he plays with a group every Sunday.
He identifies with the racing driver Mario Andretti’s statement: “If everything seems under control … you’re just not going fast enough.”
“I think this applies to business, too. If everything is moving along too calmly then there is room to push things along faster. I think that angst, stress and emotions are normal symptoms of a dynamic, growing, fast-paced environment. Without them, I would think that the business was not realizing is full potential for growth,” he said with a smile.