Entrepreneur Series: Defining Your Family Business Legacy

Aside from transferring business knowledge, many businesses also seek to create a legacy, to ensure a successful transition between generations.

In successful family businesses, the entrepreneurial spirit is not the only thing passed down through the generations — values are an equally potent part of the legacy.

Arif Rachmat, second generation CEO of agricultural commodities company PT Triputra Agro Persada, one of the largest privately held business groups in Indonesia, says a key motivator for him is the fact that his father, Theodore Rachmat leads by example. “When he wants me to be disciplined, he is the most disciplined person I know. When he wants to teach about integrity, he’s the most transparent person I know.”

Lifting People Up

Arif says his father’s company — which is broadly divided into areas such as agribusiness, manufacturing, mining, and trading and services — employs over 40,000 employees, which together with their families, helps the Group lift up a community of 100,000 people. With this in mind, his father built the company with an ethic of community building. One of his mottos? “Less for self, more for others, and enough for everyone”, he describes. “The concept of business is, we can prosper with the nation,” says Arif. “So we can seek to eradicate poverty through employment.”

Freedom to Move

Part of defining a legacy for second generation tech-startup head Christina Suriadjaja, the Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer of accommodation booking site Travelio.com, was being allowed the freedom to take risks within her father’s company. “The Group has a different outlook now as to how they look into property,” she says. “For property, they own hotels and resorts. But Travelio’s model is asset light; we don’t own any apartments or villas.”

Compared to her father, Johannes Suriadjaja, President Director of the publicly traded construction firm, PT Surya Semesta Internusa Tbk, her company is more millennial in focus. “The average age of the workforce is 28: so it’s new blood, new energy,” she describes. “I hope with this new model, it can compliment the Group’s way of doing business.” Equally, with a nine-times return on initial investment so far, she is also excited to create opportunities for the company that are essentially “earned and not inherited”.

Values as Legacy

For Arif, having strong family values is key to sustaining the business to the third generation. “A lot of family businesses eventually disintegrated because they had quarrels,” he notes, stressing the need for integration between governance and legal structure. “Governance is about values,” he adds. “And I think instilling values into the next generation is very important.”

He says he tends to bring his kids along to events such as the HSBC Entrepreneurs Series. “Normally I would bring my 10-year old daughter, just so she listens every day, and understands that going forward, this is the way that the legacy should be carried on.”

For further insight on how having shared family values impact legacy planning, watch Johannes and Christina Suriadjaja share their views.

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