My initial impression was a tough façade, but as I look into her sharp eyes, it was something else that attracts me to her.
And when she relates about her childhood, and her journey through life’s obstacles, I was instantly filled with admiration for her instantly.
Born in Jakarta 29 years ago, Ria Alkatiri, the daughter of Husein Alkatiri and Suraidah Djawi, glows with tanned, olive skin. Her friendly disposition reflects strength, and determination; qualities perhaps accumulated with years of tough pruning even from a young age.
And the years of toiling seems to have paid off as we meet today, she hands me a card bearing a “Manager” title at CEO SUITE, a leading chain of business centers across Asia. And high up at her office on the 17th floor at the Jakarta Stock Exchange building (offering a panaromic view of the Jakarta street scenes), the sunlight reflects her glistening eyes as she recalls her life’s memories.
“I was selling cakes even as a young child. And by teen-age, I had to work as a tour guide, and had to sell socks to help pay for my school fees”. Independent even as a child, it was not Ria who would further burden her parents with asking of allowances.
But it was perhaps more than the “selling of cakes … and socks” that lands her on her destination today as the leader of a team at such a prestigious firm as CEO SUITE. With her unwavering spirit towards goals, targets and challenges, she strikes me as another “Cinderella” as I try to identify with her voyage … from a cake seller to a graduate at a business school at George Seymour College in New Zealand, and now, a successful young corporate professional.
“I wanted to accumulate some useful work experience after high school before the consideration of higher education,” says Ria, who soon found herself working for a trading company for a short period before moving on to join Air Asia, where she built up most of her contacts with the “outside world”.
With much of her savings, she then ventured on to fulfill her lifetime ambition to study abroad at Christchurch, New Zealand. Auckland was simply next on her list of conquest as she added to her resume with more work exposure in a foreign land.
THREE DAYS LATER …
We met again, this time at the Daily Bread Café at the lobby of the JSX building. The warmth and coziness at the café brought our conversation to a more relaxed manner, with discussions about issues much less official.
“I enjoy traveling abroad, and I like Europe,” Ria discloses.
And pressed with more personal questions such as “love & marriage”, Ria answered with some kind of matter-of-fact authority, “love is about giving and receiving”, her answer is cliché, “but everything in a relationship boils down to trust!”.
And having had a long-distance relationship which she found difficult to maintain, Ria is single today with a simple principle – “I would rather take time, and wait for the right person”.
It seems as if she has set on a single-minded focus on her career at this stage of her life. And apparently, work is by no means a burden to her, nor will she let any small obstacles interfere with her life’s focus.
On weekends, Ria spends much of her time reading although she enjoys clubbing too, but not Discotheque style. In addition to clubbing, this R&B music fan has a whole lot of other interests and hobbies.
As a teenager, she was already the choreographer of her school’s Dance Club, and a Taekwondo athlete. In New Zealand, she used to take her snowboard for ride-outs on the mountains. But unfortunately, she is no longer able to keep up with all her leisure activities. Ria happily settles for minor weight training sessions these days right in her bedroom!
This is one lady with simple but clear strategies in her life, and it is no wonder she looks happy … much of the time!