Building Bridges between Australia and Indonesia

Google executive Karina Akib, journalist Prodita Sabarini and analyst Wina Andriana are part of a new generation of young UNSW Australia graduates building bridges between Indonesia and Australia.

Building Bridges between Australia and Indonesia

Google executive Karina Akib, journalist Prodita Sabarini and analyst Wina Andriana are part of a new generation of young UNSW Australia graduates building bridges between Indonesia and Australia.

Karina is at Google Indonesia, Prodita is the Jakarta editor for online media group The Conversation and Wina is an analyst at CIMB Niaga Bank.

All three studied at UNSW and have taken their skills to Indonesia.

Karina, who completed a Bachelor of Commerce at UNSW Australia Business School, formalised the connections between the two countries through the Conference of Australian and Indonesian Youth (CAUSINDY), which she founded in 2012.

She started work at Google in Jakarta last year, supporting the growth of digital and small-medium businesses in Indonesia. She also used the opportunity to learn about her heritage and extended family, and become fluent in Bahasa Indonesia. Her father is Indonesian but she grew up in Australia. “After I graduated I felt there was something missing, so I came to Indonesia for a short trip to connect with my extended family but ended up staying here for five years."

The connections made by these energetic recent graduates, come at a crucial time for Australian-Indonesian relations, with the biggest ever Australian trade delegation travelling to Jakarta in November last year.

UNSW Business School was in Jakarta a week after the delegation for BusinessThink Indonesia – a major event hosted by SCTV Group’s Eddy Kusnadi Sariaatmadja, with leading business and political figures including Minister Luhut Pandjaitan.

Karina’s journey is similar to that of other UNSW alumni such as The Conversation’s Jakarta editor, Prodita Sabarini.

Prodita completed her Master of Human Rights Law and Policy program at UNSW Law in 2012 and is now hoping to grow the Indonesia presence of The Conversation. Her father Slamet Pardiyanto was a Colombo Plan scholar at UNSW in the 1980’s, graduating with Chemistry Honours in 1988.

Both Prodita and Karina retain strong connections to Australia.

“I developed a close group of friends from Australia and all over the world and we regularly keep in touch,” says Prodita.

And she believes the personal connection should be reflected in the broader relationship.

“I think it's important for people from Indonesia and Australia to understand each other better. There is a huge potential for collaboration between the two countries in scientific research, art, and business.”

“We are looking to expand (The Conversation) in Indonesia. The Conversation aims to provide a global platform for academics and researchers to have a stronger voice in public debate.”

Karina is very supportive of the Australian Government’s New Colombo Plan which provides funding to increase Australian students’ knowledge of the Indo-Pacific and encourage stronger relationships and in-country work experience.

“For students, even a few weeks’ experience can contribute to their understanding of a country. Likewise, it is important for Australian universities to have someone ‘on the ground’ in Indonesia. If I ever return to Australia, I would still like to work on issues in South-East Asia.”

She keeps in touch through her involvement with CAUSINDY, the Australia-Indonesia Youth Association, the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, and UNSW scholarship and practicum programs.

Karina also worked closely with the World Economic Forum to design Indonesia’s first impact investing fund, and advised several social businesses including Yaysan Anak Cina Bangsa (YCAB) and Rekan Usaha Micro Anda(RUMA).

Wina graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Commerce, working as a market researcher before returning to her financial roots as an analyst working for CIMB Niaga.

She wished she had made more of her time at university taking the opportunity to go on international study exchange. However, she has kept in touch with her alma mater, attending the BusinessThink event in Jakarta and through the UNSW alumni network

For information on studying at UNSW Business School, click here 

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