ISMAYA’s Frans Widjaja shares his perspective on success based on his vast experience and multiple leading roles in the thriving lifestyle mogul.
Please tell us about your current role and responsibilities within the ISMAYA group.
Currently I am the marketing director for all restaurant concepts within the group that includes venues like Kitchenette, Pizza é Birra, Sushi Groove, The People’s Café, Tokyo Belly, Sejuice Me, Djournal House, among other venues. Those are what we classify as restaurant group concepts. On top of my director role, I also handle the technology division and CRM Director as well as Beverage Director.
That’s quite a lot of things to handle. How do you juggle all these responsibilities to make it work?
Like the rest of our partners, I believe there’s never enough time to get what we want to get done every single day. One of the tips that I apply in my everyday life is putting everything I want to and planning them out at least one week in advance. My calendar usually gets booked one or two weeks in advance and I always check them on a daily basis. Even reminders to myself for blocking out my everyday meetings and to-dos and I share this calendar with my team so that we have full visibility and know what times I have on the day to catch up on emails and phone calls and so on. Also, people tend to complain about Jakarta traffic, but the funny thing is that I look forward to it so I can use it for ‘me’ time either to catch up with correspondence or close my eyes and have a little breather.
ISMAYA group has been growing rapidly ever since its foundation and especially in the last decade. What do you think contributes the most to this success?
I have jokingly said this, but our partners and I share a similar characteristic in that we are all ADD and this allows us to be nimble and curious. Being interested in a lot of different things allows us to grow the way we are growing. If you take a look at our portfolio, it’s not just a single brand, not one type of business. We span across different types of segments in the industry and that’s why we call ourselves more of a lifestyle industry. Even now, people know us as brand creators and we enjoy doing that, of course, with passion and strong creative DNA in our group. We enjoy developing new brands with an underlying desire to keep expanding.
In terms of the team, being together for 16 years is a testament of our good teamwork as I respect my partners, my team members and my team leaders. One of the traits that our Ismaya Troopers has is that everybody is passionate about this industry. I think passion is key. They are creative with a hardworking, perseverant nature. We keep learning and keep growing and that’s pretty much how we all started. With no restaurant background at the beginning, we had to teach ourselves about the industry. And that’s why we don’t always necessarily bring people on board with that background, but if they show the right passion and aptitude for learning and are team players then that’s what we want.
What is to come for ISMAYA group in the near future?
Currently we have over 100 outlets in the group. Last year we added 30 outlets to our name, and by the end of the year we should have close to 140. As we grow internally, we plan to continue growing even more exponentially. We realise that, having developed all these brands, we are simply unceasing as we continue to successfully develop our brands while still craving more. Doing this for the last few years, we realise we’ve got a lot of great brands and that’s how we have identified and segmented our brands. The goal is being able to increase the reach of some of our brands not only in Jakarta but other major cities and eventually regionally and internationally as well.
Other than expansion of our brands, we’re not going to stop developing new brands. One of the things we’ve always wanted to do is education. We incorporate that in a lot of our education programme. Even in our annual Jakarta Culinary Feastival, which is the largest food festival in Indonesia, we have a strong component in there to highlight students of the culinary industry in the form of sponsorships and putting them in the spotlight to develop their potential.
How do you define success?
I believe success is an on-going journey instead of a destination. Life is constantly evolving and for me it’s a feeling of contentment of being able to achieve your goals on a daily basis. Being content with yourself knowing that the things you are doing is making a difference and they matter.
What advice can you give to others who are trying to achieve success?
Understanding oneself. Understanding why they are doing what they’re doing. Raising that question. Making sure that whatever they’re doing is making them happy and understanding their goals. Take constant checkpoints while being truthful to yourself. Set realistic goals and make the effort day-to-day to move closer to your goals.