Walking into Brata’s private office in Thamrin, the first thing I noticed, apart from his enthusiasm, was a caricature painting of himself in a superman costume surrounded by colourful quotes, and the one that jumped out at me the most was “World’s Coolest Boss!” along with signatures which, I’m sure, belong to his employees. Must have been a birthday present from them.
Brata’s colourful 22-year career spanned across several industries, IT software/hardware, digital marketing, aviation sectors, to name a few. His most recent undertaking prior to Dimo was an executive level position at an international marketing agency. But his most recent achievements at Dimo were what interested me the most.
Dimo is a financial technology company that builds a payment system that allow for cashless transactions to happen between countless merchants and consumers. Their main clients are banks who take advantage of Dimo’s infrastructure to encourage their customers to go cashless and to increase transaction numbers, so they don’t have to build their own systems which could take away valuable resources that could be better spent elsewhere.
Right at the end of 2015 when he joined Dimo as CEO, the company has been changing in different directions, different CEOs, with not much results, to put it mildly. Targets were far from being hit, and the mindset of the demoralised existing team needed some adjustments. In other words, he was charged with the monumental task of setting a new vision and bring in results for the company quickly. He had his work cut out for him.
Fast forward to early 2017, he had achieved 9000% growth in transactions, and at least 1400% growth in strategic partnerships with key parties. Fascinated about what he did, and how he did the things that that turned things around, I requested to interview him specifically for Wantedly Journal, our inhouse blog, and of course so I could pick up a few tricks of the trade from him.
As we started chatting, I couldn’t help but notice how his eyes lit up, excitement flared in his voice, his hands waved and gestured enthusiastically as he talked about his employees’ achievements over the past year or so. It became very clear, very quickly that I was talking to an extremely passionate leader who was proud of what his team had achieved.
Here are some of my key takeaways from my short and casual interview of Brata Rafly.
The first thing he did at the start of his term was to diagnose the situation. “I had to understand what happened, what was going on. The existing mindset of the team members, I felt, were not correct. We were acting like a B2C e-commerce startup -even though we were B2B connecting with mature enterprise partners. And that’s a very detached, impersonal way of communicating to the kinds of clients we were after”
That’s when he decided he needed to change the team’s mindset. “Because of the nature of the clients who we are targeting, I mean, we’re talking about centuries-old banks with conservative ways of conducting business - the team needed to completely change their approach to an on-the-ground, get-your-hands-dirty, enterprise sales approach by building strong relationships with clients.”
Lead by example. “I had to get my hands dirty. I regularly went with my team to meet with clients and closed deals. Til this day I still do it sometimes. This way no one can say I don’t get it because I didn’t do it,” Brata said, “And I would encourage my team to come to me if they need help or guidance on how to do it.”
Revamping the flawed organisational structure. “Back then, I didn’t see the result-oriented culture in the team. The org was structured such that it made finger-pointing very easy to do. If you hadn’t delivered results, the excuse was that because of someone else not doing their job. Back then we had two separate divisions doing tasks that are closely connected. I decided to merge those two divisions and distributed tasks that forced the team to work together, to take ownership, and deliver results. Instead of the old ‘Merchant Department’ and ‘Client Department’ it’s now just the ‘Commercial Division’.”
Salvage existing talent. He didn’t feel the need to overhaul the entire team by taking drastic measures such as firing underperforming employees. “I personally retrained existing client-facing employees to effectively sell to and convince enterprise clients of our products. I then assigned them to tasks that both they and I felt were better suited to their skills and passions. Morale increased significantly soon after this process. Our employees’ costs now are lower than last year before I joined, yet productivity increased immensely, and we are where we are now because of them.”
Recognise achievements. “See that trophy on that guy’s PC there?” pointing me towards someone who is hunched towards his monitor, seemingly intensely focused on work. “He’s one of our top performers I want everyone to know that. It boosts morale which in turn boosts productivity even more. This also encourages his teammates around him to perform better in the hopes of one day receiving the same recognition.” His management style towards his employees was also interesting. “I look at an employee and I refuse to judge them by what they are doing, or define them by their tasks. Rather, I try to define them by how much more they can potentially contribute to the team once we unlock and nurture their potential,” he says.
“Passionate employees with unlocked potential are not only the most self-motivated employees but also the highest achieving ones.”
By Lius Widjaja.