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null Yohana Kurniawan: Striving for Solution Through Digital Transformation Initiatives

Yohana Kurniawan: Striving for Solution Through Digital Transformation Initiatives

In the spirit of commemorating International Women’s Day, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Sinar Mas highlights three inspiring women who have been passionately contributing in their roles. Yohana Kurniawan, Head of HR Technology at APP Sinar Mas shares her views on perseverance and team collaboration in a complex execution of digital transformations initiatives. 

Tell us your day-to-day work as a Head of HR Technology?

As a leader, I am responsible for developing a digital transformation strategy. The team and I collaborate, between other teams and divisions to slowly automate existing systems. The general workflow is like this, my team and I initially mapped out the user needs of the entire HR department. We are working together with the Corporate Information Technology (CIT) team who helped implement the system according to the needs of each department. Once the system is up and running, it's back to our division helping to solve the problems that arise together with the CIT team. 

This is very interesting because I can imagine that it is not easy to carry out digital transformation at the scale of a very large company like APP Sinar Mas. Why is this transformation important?

Indeed, it is a large-scale change effort. Some technologies that have been around for decades are still being used and are no longer relevant. Looking at the time that now technology drives the shift in business, where management needs a good database to make decisions. That's why a good system is very important to collect and process all data effectively. The scale of our company is very large, it is impossible for us to manage it without a system. This transformation effort has started in 2019. We started to try to launch the mobile system for the first time and the feedback was positive. It enables employees to conveniently take care of administration because they can do self-service. So basically, my goal is how our team can help fix and enhance the system, develop its automation so that it can solve the problems, and make improvements as soon as possible.

Does it mean that from the start you have been interested in information technology (IT), dealing with systems, and so on? 

Actually, I'm a Chemical Engineering graduate, but I started my career in IT. Although it’s different from my educational background, I think the thinking concepts and logic are almost the same and shape me to be an innovative problem solver. All include making the flow of input, process, and output work well and in harmony. The difference is that in the IT field, I realize that I need to learn technical skills. Then, I found out this ability could provide a solution to a problem. Like putting together a puzzle, I need to sort out the right shape, pattern, and color. Since moving to HR technology, I have had more freedom to do that. Not only a good and efficient system, but also must ensure the process delivers the results (output) that can be well received and serve the needs.

When it comes to technology, there is still a perception in society that this field of work is for men. Moreover, you also work in the manufacturing business. In fact, a person's ability or skill can no longer be judged by gender or other differences. Hearing your story directly, actually breaks the bias. What about your own environment? Have you ever seen or maybe even become a 'victim' of such biased views?

Agree with the fact that some jobs and certain fields where women are still underrepresented, but that doesn't mean women can't. In my opinion, as long as there is a will, courage, and determination, nothing is impossible. Although there are views or biases towards women, I don't really care about that hehe because I know that I fight for the things I really want. This transformation is urgently needed so that the output can be served to all stakeholders as soon as possible. If there are limitations or other things that I don't understand yet, then I’ll ask those who are the experts. Then I work hard with my team to prove what we are doing, where later the results will speak for themselves.

Impressive! I hope all the things you’ve done with your team turn out great for everyone. Now, let’s discuss how your surroundings’ thoughts on your career. Could you tell us about the way they give support, or do you ever face the challenge about that? How do you handle that?

I’m beyond grateful because though I have family and a kid, they fully support me with what I’ve been doing. Me and my husband are taking part to take care of our family and maintain our communication with each other. I know that I cannot overlook my role to take care of my family because I’m still a wife and a mom. Although there is always a risk for everything just like I couldn’t fully accompany my kid while studying, at the same time I also teach my kid how to be independent as well. We are now can get any information easier, it also helps me in many things.

Is there anything you want to convey to all women that struggling in living their dreams with all the limitations, and for those who are still stereotyping a career woman?

This is for all the women out there, we can start by setting small goals to reach the bigger ones later on. Don’t be afraid to try something new as it would be one of your best guru. I hope we can always open our hearts and mind that we cannot limit the chance and capability that someone deserves to. I always believe the change is inevitable, thus we have to keep adapting. I wish there will be much more women who will open up themselves and be bold to take any chances provided for them. It is very important to just start, we will never know what will really happen if we don’t want to try.

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