Elroy Jackson heads north to Bedugul to meet Aliza Salviandra, new director for Handara Golf & Resort. Photo: Mark Carolan.
Hi Aliza, can you tell us a little about yourself?
I can say that I’m adventurous like traveling and learning about other cultures and values. That’s why I spent most of my adult life studying and working abroad. I graduated from Northeastern Uni in Boston majoring in Business Admin, worked for one year in State Street Bank, then did my MBA in International Business Law. A Law Master’s Degree followed after that. Finally I got my Law Degree from the University of Indonesia, was a lawyer for seven years and passed the Indonesian Bar Exam about two years ago. Last year I was given the task of managing Handara Golf & Resort.
Those are some impressive credentials. I’ll call you if ever I’m in jail! Can you tell us a bit about your famous grandfather, Ibnu Sutowo [the Indonesian army officer, Cabinet Minister and former head of the Indonesian oil and gas producer Pertamina, and the founder of Handara].
My grandfather was truly a remarkable man. He was very much involved in the struggles of Indonesian independence, and helped build the nation. He was a visionary in many ways. He also played a very influential part in my life, but to me he was just like any other grandfather, very affectionate. He loved having us grandkids around; me not realizing how significant he was until I grew up.
Supposedly, he fell in love with golf accidentally. He used to play tennis. But after hurting his back he wanted to try a ‘safer’ sport and started golfing. He was hooked after his first game, and became a passionate golfer. So much so that he decided to build the Handara course to make the then relatively unknown sport popular.
To be honest I’ve never wanted to be known solely because of my family background. That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed living abroad. But I’m still carrying his name. It’s touching that many people remember him with respect. Whatever I do and decide for Handara, it’s not just for my family, but also to carry out his legacy. He sincerely wanted to help out the local community. So to fulfill his wishes, we recently started quarterly CSR Charity programs around Bedugul area. We’re humbled that many groups have started giving out charity through us and we hope to expand the programs to cover all of Bali moving forward.
When was your first day at work at the family business here in Bali?
I moved to Bali in February 2014, and started working at Handara in April. It was a big challenge because I knew nothing about running a golf course and resort. I had to learn everything from scratch but thanks to that, I gained new knowledge in many areas. As they say, learning new things is good and healthy for your brain!
We noticed the golf Carnivale a few months ago, and the potential of this being a fun family day for years to come. Are there any other new concepts Handara will introduce?
Basically the new concept was to introduce golf as a fun sport to a younger, wider market. We need the younger generation to fall in love with golf and being a mother myself, I wanted to have a kind of family day, something that combined golf and family friendly activities. While the husband plays golf, the wife and kids can enjoy the carnival. I met a consultant who helped shaped the concept into being. And that’s how the First Hackers & Slackers was born. The feedback was very encouraging. Next time maybe we’ll do a special theme or something, we want to see more children and young folks get hooked on golf. I’m also hoping that my son will also fall in love with the sport.
How has your move to Bali been so far, you’re a Jakarta city girl aren’t you?
Yes, I’m a city girl. To tell the truth the first few months weren’t too easy. The last seven years I’ve been used to the hype and fast pace of Jakarta’s lifestyle. The slow island life in Bali was a shock to the system. But as I got used to my work at Handara and with my family’s support, I fell in love with Balinese culture and its people.
As a family woman, mother and wife, how do you find the time to juggle your professional and personal life?
I’ve always juggled different parts of my life. I was heavily pregnant with my second child during my Bar exam; I was also pregnant and breastfeeding with my first child throughout my lawyering and university days. I guess you just have to be smart with your time management. I always try to be there for my husband and kids. But I want to be a good role model for my children. I want them to see that life is hard but when you achieve what you aimed for, the satisfaction is beyond anything.
We’re very happy to hear about the changes at Handara, it must be tough to bring in new levels of professional excellence to a business that’s been here since 1974. What are some of the major challenges you’ve faced?
The biggest challenge is to change itself. We’ve been trying to revamp the whole Handara culture. Generally people don’t like change. So our biggest challenge is changing the mindset and work ethic. I wouldn’t be here without the support of our brand new management team. We’re trying to be more disciplined at work. We get together every two months to have a general assembly for team building. You’d be amazed at how much people can make progress if they’re all on the same page.
Are you planning a celebrity golf tournament anytime next year, we are hearing all sorts of things in the rumour mill?
We’re trying to bring more awareness that Handara is back. We were delighted to be chosen as the venue for the inaugural Yak Magazine Golf Invitational and to have Miss Indonesia playing golf at Handara again. We’re definitely trying to get more celebrities, but I’ll keep that in the bag for now. We want to build your anticipation.
In your own words, how would you describe Handara?
Evolutionary. People-based. Family. Challenging. Loving. Committed.
Thanks very much for your time, just one more question. How did the course come to be named Handara?
Well, this is what I found out from my grandfather’s memoir. When he played golf for the first time, one of his daughters was with him. So with that fond memory, the course was named after her, my mother.