The Entrepreneur Series – Imelda Harsono, Board of Directors & Vice President, Samator Group

Who is She?

Imelda joined the company in June 2003, immediately after graduating from the National University of Singapore. Throughout her journey with Samator Group, she started in an entry-level position, demonstrating eagerness to contribute to the company’s success. In the initial roles, her focus was on learning the intricacies of the industry, understanding the company’s values, and building strong foundational skills. Actively seeking opportunities to collaborate with colleagues and taking on additional responsibilities showcased her dedication and potential.

As she progressed within the organization, she embraced challenges and consistently delivered results in her respective roles. Participation in relevant training programs and a commitment to continuous education kept her abreast of industry trends. Networking within the company allowed her to establish valuable connections with colleagues across different departments.

Recognizing her commitment and contributions, she was entrusted with roles of increasing responsibility. Whether in project management, strategic planning, or team leadership, each position provided unique challenges that further developed her skills and expertise. Actively seeking mentorship from senior leaders within the organization allowed her to leverage guidance to navigate complex situations and make informed decisions.

Upon reaching a pivotal point in her career, she was honored to be appointed as Vice-President Director. In this leadership role, she had the privilege of leading the primary subsidiary of Samator Group. This transition allowed her to apply her accumulated knowledge and skills to drive the success of a key business unit. Focusing on fostering a collaborative and innovative work culture, she aligned the subsidiary’s objectives with the overarching goals of Samator Group.

Her evolution within Samator Group reflects a combination of hard work, dedication, and a continuous pursuit of professional growth. The support of mentors, coupled with the opportunities provided by the organization, has been instrumental in shaping her journey from entry-level positions to a leadership role within the company.

How did you establish your credibility and navigate the male-dominated environment in your field, especially being the daughter of the late company owner?

Establishing credibility in a male-dominated field, particularly as the daughter of the late company owner, has been both challenging and rewarding. To overcome gender biases and gain respect within the organization, I focused on several key strategies.


Firstly, I made a conscious effort to excel in my education and professional development. Demonstrating a strong work ethic and staying updated on industry trends helped build my knowledge base and showcased my commitment to the business.


Networking played a crucial role. Actively engaging with industry professionals, attending conferences, and participating in relevant forums allowed me to establish connections and learn from experienced individuals. It also provided a platform to showcase my expertise, regardless of gender.


In a male-dominated environment, confidence is key. I ensured that my voice was heard by actively participating in meetings, offering insightful contributions, and presenting my ideas with conviction. Additionally, I sought out mentors, both within and outside the organization, who provided guidance and support.


Embracing challenges head-on, I took on projects that allowed me to demonstrate my leadership capabilities. Delivering results and showcasing my ability to handle responsibilities effectively helped break down gender stereotypes.


Building relationships with colleagues and employees was equally important. Fostering a collaborative and inclusive work culture helped create a supportive environment where my contributions were valued based on merit.


Acknowledging the legacy of my late father, I approached my role with a sense of respect for the company’s history while also bringing in fresh perspectives. Communicating a vision for the future and aligning it with the values of the organization helped build trust among stakeholders.

Over time, as I consistently demonstrated my commitment, competence, and leadership skills, I earned the respect of my peers and colleagues. While challenges persist in any male-dominated field, I believe that fostering diversity and inclusion benefits the entire organization, contributing to its overall success.

What motivated your transition into the family business after your education, and how did your rotational experiences across divisions shape your leadership today?

After completing my education, I decided to transition into the family business for several reasons. Firstly, there was a strong sense of commitment and responsibility towards continuing the legacy built by previous generations. The family business held a significant place in my personal history, and I saw an opportunity to contribute to its growth and success.

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the business and develop well-rounded leadership skills, I opted for rotational experiences across different divisions. These experiences were instrumental in shaping my leadership style today. Working in various departments allowed me to grasp the intricacies of each aspect of the business, from operations and finance to marketing and human resources.


The rotational experiences provided me with a holistic view of the organization, fostering a deep appreciation for the interdependencies between different functions. It enhanced my problem-solving skills, as I encountered and addressed challenges from diverse perspectives. Additionally, exposure to various teams and their unique dynamics honed my interpersonal and communication skills.


Furthermore, the rotational approach facilitated relationship-building with employees across all levels, creating a more cohesive and collaborative work environment. It also instilled adaptability and resilience, as I learned to navigate the complexities of different business functions and industries.


Overall, my journey through different divisions in the family business has been a transformative learning experience. It not only equipped me with a robust skill set but also cultivated a leadership approach that values diversity, fosters collaboration, and embraces continuous learning.

What inspired the founding of Samudera Biru Internasional?

My personal values and beliefs play a significant role. I have a strong commitment to ethical business practices, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility and therefore inspired to create Samudera Biru that embody these principles.

Another reason is economic opportunities. By recognizing the growing demand for renewable energy and the economic viability of clean technologies, we establish Samudera Biru to seize business opportunities in a rapidly expanding market.

What upcoming technological advancements in industrial gas production excite you the most and why?

Green Hydrogen Production:

Electrolysis Advances: Technological advancements in electrolysis, especially using renewable energy sources, are of great interest. Efficient and cost-effective electrolysis processes contribute to the production of green hydrogen, which has applications in various industries.

Carbon Capture and Utilization (CCU):

Innovations in Carbon Capture: Ongoing developments in carbon capture technologies have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from industrial processes. The utilization of captured carbon dioxide in various applications, such as the production of synthetic fuels or chemicals, is an area of active research.

What obstacles do you foresee in integrating renewable energy solutions into Indonesia’s industrial landscape, and how do you plan to address them?

Here are some potential obstacles:

Infrastructure Challenges:

    • Grid Integration: The existing power grid infrastructure may not be optimized for handling intermittent renewable energy sources. Upgrading and modernizing the grid may be necessary.

    • Energy Storage: The intermittency of renewable sources like solar and wind requires efficient energy storage solutions. Adequate storage infrastructure may be lacking.

Policy and Regulatory Frameworks:

    • Incentives and Subsidies: The absence of supportive government policies, incentives, or subsidies can hinder the growth of renewable energy projects.

    • Regulatory Barriers: Regulatory uncertainties and red tape can discourage investment in renewable energy. Clear and favourable regulations are crucial.

Financial Barriers:

    • Initial Costs: The upfront costs of renewable energy technologies, such as solar panels or wind turbines, can be high. Financial mechanisms like subsidies or low-interest loans may be needed.

    • Investment Climate: Attracting private investments in renewable projects may be challenging if the investment climate is not conducive or if there’s a lack of financial instruments.

Technological Challenges:

    • Technology Readiness: The availability of advanced and reliable renewable energy technologies may be limited. Access to cutting-edge technologies can impact the success of renewable projects.

Public Awareness and Acceptance:

    • Public Perception: Lack of awareness or misconceptions about the benefits of renewable energy might result in resistance from the public. Public education campaigns may be necessary.

Capacity Building:

    • Workforce Skills: There may be a shortage of skilled professionals with expertise in renewable energy. Training programs and educational initiatives are essential to build a capable workforce.

Interplay with Fossil Fuel Industries:

    • Existing Energy Infrastructure: Traditional energy industries may resist the transition to renewable energy due to economic dependencies. A balanced approach to transitioning is crucial to manage the impact on existing industries and employment.


To address these obstacles, a comprehensive approach involving collaboration between the government, private sector, and civil society is necessary. This could include implementing supportive policies, providing financial incentives, investing in infrastructure, and fostering public awareness and education. Regular reviews and updates of policies and strategies are also crucial to adapt to the evolving landscape of renewable energy.

How do you envision technology and sustainability driving positive change within your business and its subsidiaries?

Environmental Impact Reduction:

Renewable Energy Integration, by embracing renewable energy sources within operations can significantly reduce the environmental footprint. Implementation of solar panels, wind turbines, or other clean energy technologies contributes to lower carbon emissions and aligns with sustainability goals.


Energy Efficiency and Conservation:

Smart Technologies: Adoption of smart technologies and energy-efficient practices can enhance overall operational efficiency. Implementing IoT devices, sensors, and automation can optimize energy consumption, reduce waste, and lower costs.


Digitalization for Efficiency:

Digital Transformation: Utilizing digital technologies for streamlined operations, data analytics, and real-time monitoring enhances overall efficiency. This can lead to optimized resource utilization, reduced waste, and improved decision-making.


Continuous Monitoring and Reporting:

Eco-Efficiency Metrics: Implementing technology for real-time monitoring and reporting on sustainability metrics allows businesses to track their progress and make data-driven decisions to further enhance their eco-efficiency.

Can you share key lessons or insights from your career that significantly shaped your leadership style or business approach?

Adaptability and Flexibility:

Lesson: The business landscape is dynamic, and the ability to adapt to change is crucial.

Insight: Embracing change and cultivating a flexible mindset are essential for navigating uncertainties and capitalizing on emerging opportunities.

Empathy and People-Centric Leadership:

Lesson: Recognizing the value of empathy in leadership fosters stronger team dynamics and employee engagement.

Insight: Leaders who prioritize understanding and supporting their team members build a positive work culture and enhance overall organizational well-being.

Resilience in the Face of Challenges:

Lesson: Challenges are inevitable; resilience is key to overcoming them.

Insight: Learning from setbacks, maintaining a positive attitude, and persisting through difficulties contribute to long-term success.

Continuous Learning and Innovation:

Lesson: Stagnation can hinder progress; continuous learning and innovation are vital.

Insight: A commitment to staying informed about industry trends and fostering a culture of innovation ensures relevance and competitiveness.

Effective Communication:

Lesson: Communication is the cornerstone of leadership.

Insight: Clear, transparent, and inclusive communication fosters understanding, alignment, and a sense of shared purpose among team members.

If not in your current role, what alternate career path might you have pursued?

Human Rights Lawyer, because of these two reasons

  • Global Perspective and Engagement:

Human rights law often involves working on a global scale. I have an interest in international affairs and a desire to address human rights issues on a global level, this field provides a platform for such engagement.

  • Diverse and Fulfilling Work:

Human rights law covers a wide range of issues, offering a diverse and intellectually stimulating career. From civil liberties and freedom of expression to social justice and humanitarian law, and I would have the opportunity to engage with various legal areas.

Considering your journey, what advice would you offer individuals aspiring to build successful careers in challenging industries?

Embrace Challenges as Opportunities:

View challenges as opportunities for growth and learning. Rather than avoiding difficulties, approach them with a positive mindset and see them as a chance to develop new skills.

Continuous Learning and Skill Development:

Stay committed to lifelong learning. Industries evolve, and staying updated on industry trends, technologies, and best practices is crucial for remaining relevant and competitive.

Cultivate Resilience:

Develop resilience to cope with setbacks and uncertainties. Resilient individuals bounce back from challenges, learn from failures, and adapt to changing circumstances.

Network Effectively:

Build a strong professional network. Connect with mentors, peers, and industry professionals who can offer guidance, insights, and support throughout your career journey.

What’s your advice for female entrepreneurs and leaders taking on leadership positions?

Challenge Gender Stereotypes:

Challenge stereotypes and biases. Advocate for equality in the workplace and challenge any gender-based assumptions that may arise.

Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity:

Understand that failure is a part of the journey. Use setbacks as learning opportunities and resiliently move forward.

Mentorship and Role Models:

Seek mentorship from both male and female leaders. Having role models who have successfully navigated similar paths can provide valuable insights and guidance.

Promote Inclusivity:

Foster an inclusive workplace culture. Encourage diverse perspectives and ensure that everyone, regardless of gender, feels valued and included.

How do you think HER Entrepreneur can help unite and inspire more women entrepreneurs and leaders to grow and lead, while referring businesses to each other?

HER Entrepreneur can play a crucial role in uniting and inspiring women entrepreneurs and leaders by creating a supportive and collaborative community. Here are some strategies that can be employed to achieve this:

Networking Events and Workshops:

Organize networking events, workshops, and seminars specifically tailored for women entrepreneurs. These events provide opportunities for networking, mentorship, and knowledge sharing.

Online Community Platform:

Establish an online platform, such as a dedicated website or social media group, where women entrepreneurs can connect, share experiences, seek advice, and refer businesses to each other.

Mentorship Programs:

Implement mentorship programs that pair experienced women entrepreneurs and leaders with those who are just starting their journey. Mentorship provides guidance, support, and a valuable exchange of insights.

Resource Sharing:

Facilitate the sharing of resources and expertise. Women entrepreneurs can refer businesses to each other by recommending services, suppliers, or collaboration opportunities.

Collaborative Projects:

Encourage collaborative projects and partnerships among women-led businesses. By working together on projects or initiatives, entrepreneurs can leverage each other’s strengths and expand their networks.

Recognition and Awards:

Create platforms for recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women entrepreneurs. Awards and recognition programs can inspire others and showcase the diverse talents within the community.

Educational Initiatives:

Offer educational programs and workshops that address specific challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, covering topics such as negotiation skills, leadership development, and financial management.

Access to Funding Opportunities:

Facilitate access to funding opportunities. Providing information on grants, loans, and investment opportunities specifically targeted at women entrepreneurs can help them scale their businesses.

Advocacy for Equal Opportunities:

Advocate for equal opportunities in business. By actively promoting and supporting policies that foster gender equality, HER Entrepreneur can contribute to creating a more inclusive business environment.

Peer-to-Peer Support System:

Establish a peer-to-peer support system where women entrepreneurs can share advice, insights, and challenges. Having a community that understands and supports each other can be invaluable.

Inclusive Events and Campaigns:

Ensure inclusivity in all events and campaigns. By showcasing diverse stories and experiences, HER Entrepreneur can inspire a broad spectrum of women from different backgrounds and industries.

Online Marketplace:

Create an online marketplace or directory where women-led businesses can showcase their products and services. This platform can facilitate business referrals within the community.

Interactive Webinars and Panels:

Host interactive webinars and panel discussions featuring successful women entrepreneurs and leaders. These sessions can provide valuable insights, promote learning, and inspire others to take on leadership roles.

Feedback Mechanism:

Establish a feedback mechanism to understand the needs and aspirations of the community. Regular surveys or feedback sessions can help tailor programs and initiatives to address specific challenges faced by women entrepreneurs.

By implementing a holistic approach that combines networking, mentorship, education, and advocacy, HER Entrepreneur can create a thriving ecosystem that not only unites and inspires women entrepreneurs but also fosters tangible collaboration and business referrals within the community.

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