Tuty Kusumawati, Head of Regional Development Planning Board, Jakarta

By GovInsider

Women in GovTech Special Report 2015.

Tell us about your background. How did you get to where you are now?

I joined the civil service in 1986 as a staff in the family planning agency. From there I became the head of the agency at the municipality level for North Jakarta and South Jakarta.

At that time, family planning was a big issue in Indonesia and in Jakarta. It was a big programme that was fully supported by the central government, the army and various other agencies. In 2001 I joined Bappeda, Jakarta’s regional development planning board, where I am working now.

I started as the head of its social welfare division, and was promoted to become the head of the agency. When I joined, the civil service seemed like a place for masculine work, with civil servants predominantly men. Now it is getting better, and the proportion of females is greater than before.

But it is not exactly 50-50 yet - there's still a long time to go for that. Now your promotion is not determined by whether you are male or female, it depends on your competency. Moreover, Governor Ahok likes transparency. You must have integrity, be transparent and professional.

Why did you decide to join the public sector?

For me, it was very challenging to have a role serving people and the community. I was very interested in delivering services to the community, especially those who do not have enough resources to grow and develop themselves. My point of view is that if I can serve them, I think I can get happiness in my life.

What is the best thing you have experienced in your career?

When I was engaging with people directly in slums, walking door to door, listening to them and understanding their problems. The best experience was when I was serving people in North Jakarta. I found out that some children there were malnourished.

But my agency did not have the resources to do something for them directly. I asked my colleague from another agency if they have budget to buy ducks.

I gave the ducks to a group of women in the area. The women were able to breed the ducks and produce eggs to feed the children. The production grew very rapidly and they could produce enough eggs to sell. For me, that was a very touching moment.

What is the toughest challenge that you have had to face and overcome in your career?

It was just at the beginning of this year when the Governor asked me to make a better system for planning and budgeting, where all the processes could be input into an electronic system. Everything was uploaded to the public, so they can watch our processes from start to finish.

There was a very strong reaction from the local parliament because we introduced new approaches to them. Previously they could introduce activities even if they were not a priority for the local government, and some of these proposals were found to be false.

It was a very tough period for me, but thank God we could pass it through. Now we are constructing a better mechanism and system to make our planning and budgeting processes more transparent and more focused on strategic programmes.

What is the most inspiring example that you have seen in your working life?

I am always inspired by many people around me. For example, I met a lady in South Jakarta who every morning invited children from the kampung to her house to play and provided them with food. It started with 10 to 15 children, but eventually she invited the mothers as well, training them on how to make products from recycled plastic.

Eventually she was giving informal education to almost the entire family at no charge. This has now grown into a famous foundation called Kampung Kid, and the lady is its co-founder.

I think it is very inspiring that we can make ourselves available to benefit others. When I came back to my office, I felt inspired by this lady. I feel that I have to benefit my city, community, staff, citizens and administration.

What advice do you have for other women looking to succeed in public service?

I strongly advise my fellow women in civil service to please be yourselves. I believe that this starts from our very smallest office - our own home. We have to deliver services starting from our home. We must make sure that our relationship with our spouse and children is clear.

Then we must make sure that our roles at home and at work are going in the same direction, they must be harmonious. But don’t just think about your domestic role - now is the time for women to take public roles.

We are not forbidden to break through traditional ways of thinking that women should have domestic roles. Even if we are not living our domestic role, it is reflected in how we serve people.

Ultimately solutions are what matter, whether we are at home or in the office. So ladies, don’t worry about problems, but focus your strength on finding the best solutions for every challenge.

And finally, how do you like to unwind after a long week at the office?

I have two daughters, and all four of us like to go out together for lunch. Sometimes it takes quite some time to pick which restaurant to go to!