After graduating from Wharton | San Francisco last year, Wharton EMBA alumnus Jess Kindler was promoted to general manager of PT Atlas Copco Nusantara. He’s based in Jakarta, Indonesia and was recently featured on the cover of Coal Asia Magazine. We caught up with him in Indonesia and asked about his new position and the impact his Wharton education has made on his career.
Before I came to Wharton, I was running the western U.S. business for Atlas Copco, specifically in mining. I was looking to round out my education by learning about business as a whole and advance my leadership skills. I wanted an EMBA program where the students would be very diverse so I could learn as much from them as from the professors. Wharton was a great match for me.
After graduating, I began looking for a new role within my company with greater leadership responsibilities. I am now a general manager in charge of many aspects of the business from strategy and sales to logistics and financial reporting. Being in a developing market in Indonesia, there are a lot of great opportunities for growth.
A big part of my focus in this position is building up the other legs of our business beyond coal mining. We want our 11 branches in Indonesia to ramp up services in all of our market segments, including geotechnical, exploration drilling, coal, oil and gas, construction, and underground mining.
When I first arrived, a big challenge was the loss of half of my senior staff. So I’m also rebuilding my team. Another challenge is geography; Indonesia is an archipelago of islands so many of our customers are at very remote sites. I’ve flown on everything to visit them from a Russian-made helicopter to a twin prop airplane to a single engine Cessna. It’s been pretty exciting.
My Wharton education has been very useful in this new position. It’s allowed me to look at the big picture instead of just a specific part of the business. In the past, I focused on weekly or monthly problems, but now I’m trying to look at our strategy five years out and that requires a different lens. It’s a totally different way of approaching business as a whole and I’m equipped to do that.
Also, the ability I gained at Wharton to critically question financial statements and understand fully what goes into budgeting international project investments and the ability to look at an organization in a much more in-depth way to determine where its strengths and challenges need to be balanced out have both been helpful.
Going through Wharton’s EMBA program was very worthwhile. In addition to the knowledge from classes, the confidence you gain from the program is very valuable as well as the network and friends you make. Everyone there is of the highest caliber and you share so much with them during those two years. If I had to do it again, I definitely would.
To watch an alumni video with Jess Kindler, click here.