NUS students discover Jakarta's dynamic industries on CFG’s Global Industry Insights course

While most students spend their recess week catching up on their studies or indulging in much-needed rest, 30 adventurous NUS students had a different activity in mind: a trip to the bustling metropolis of Jakarta, Indonesia.

As part of the Global Industry Insights course (CFG2002) organised by the NUS Centre for Future-ready Graduates, these students from various faculties and disciplines immersed themselves in the heart of Indonesia's economic hub to experience the dynamism of its diverse industries. The week-long trip, from 25 February to 2 March 2024, gave students the opportunity to meet and learn from an exciting line-up of industry leaders from established companies across various sectors, gain a deeper understanding of Indonesian culture, and hone their communication, collaboration, and networking skills.

The trip kicked off with a cultural visit to Museum Layang Layang Indonesia, where students learned about the history of kites and even got to try their hand at making their own.

On subsequent days, the students visited various local companies from a wide range of industries such as manufacturing, technology, and finance.

A glimpse into Indonesia’s start-up scene

During the trip, students had a chance to visit NUS’ very own BLOCK71 Jakarta, one of nine start-up incubators by the University found around the globe. Across Indonesia, BLOCK71 works strategically with Salim Group’s Innovation Factory to spearhead new initiatives and provide mentorship and growth opportunities in key local, regional, and global markets. Hearing directly from invited speakers like Mr Brian JS, Chief Marketing Officer of Citarasa Prima Group, the students gained valuable insights into the Indonesian market and the local business opportunities available within the start-up space.

Ms Agustin, Centre Director, BLOCK71 Jakarta, said, “It was an enriching experience for the students taking the Global Industry Insights (GII) course to learn from our partners about the exciting Indonesian start-up ecosystem, businesses, and internship opportunities. The networking segment allowed the students and our partners to exchange ideas and build long-lasting connections.”

Learning from one of Indonesia’s largest conglomerates

Another highlight of the trip was the chance to visit one of Indonesia’s largest conglomerates founded over 60 years ago - Sinar Mas. With businesses that span across multiple industries, the students learned how Sinar Mas has strategically created an ecosystem via seven business pillars, seamlessly becoming part of the daily lives of many Indonesians.

Students also had the valuable opportunity to hear from graduates of Sinar Mas’ development programme. One graduate highlighted the importance of “gotong-royong” (mutual assistance) as a key skill to possess, as one’s ability to work effectively with others is crucial, especially in such large companies.

Diving deep into Indonesian culture

As part of the cultural immersion experience, the students visited Bina Nusantara (BINUS) University where they had the opportunity to taste and learn about traditional Indonesian kueh. Students participated in a campus tour, before ending the visit with a ketupat weaving activity alongside their BINUS University student hosts. Many students exchanged contacts with their newfound Indonesian friends, with some meeting up again before returning to Singapore.

As a fitting finale, students participated in a networking event at the International Financial Centre, honing their engagement and communication skills as they connected with a diverse group of industry insiders.

When asked about the significance of having a global mindset, David Setiawan Suwarto, Chairman of NUS Alumni Jakarta Chapter, remarked, “I think it is always useful to go overseas. In any country, you will meet different types of people. When I was in school, I took every opportunity to go overseas, whether it was an exchange or a case competition, because you can benchmark yourself with others. Innovation and creativity are obviously not easy and learning from others is a lot easier than thinking about everything yourself and making terrible errors. This trip, I would say is useful, as it allows students to learn from the best practices.”

The GII trip to Jakarta was certainly a transformative experience for the participants. It offered a profound glimpse into a fast-growing neighbouring economy, helping students gain clarity on their career aspirations.

Reflecting on this trip, Amherst Pang An Ho, a Year 4 Mechanical Engineering student from the NUS College of Design and Engineering, who will soon be entering the workforce, shared, “Because of the variety of companies covered, I gained an understanding of how companies in different industries operate. This equipped me with a global perspective and the ability to synthesise interdisciplinary knowledge, see connections, and better navigate the increasingly connected corporate world.”

Another participant, Chan Ger Teck, a Year 2 Computer Science student from the NUS School of Computing, said, “Through the trip, I was able to gain a deeper insight and truly understand Indonesia’s immense economic potential and cultural richness. Meeting seasoned entrepreneurs and industry leaders left a profound impact on me, as their wisdom and experience inspired me to think innovatively and embrace challenges with resilience.”


By Muhamad Ferhad Bin Fadzlei, a Year 1 Communications and New Media student at the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences