Connecting in Indonesia

Yee Kee Kong (far right), Assistant GM at Keppel Land, has embraced Indonesia with open arms since his posting in late-2012. He is pictured here together with his co-workers and contractors atop International Financial Centre Jakarta Tower Two during its construction

Yee Kee Kong (far right), Assistant GM at Keppel Land, has embraced Indonesia with open arms since his posting in late-2012. He is pictured here together with his co-workers and contractors atop International Financial Centre Jakarta Tower Two during its construction

When Yee Kee Kong, Assistant GM at Keppel Land, first moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, he experienced first-hand the true meaning of the saying ‘patience is a virtue’.

He said with a laugh, “Indonesians are very gracious and patient. This is evident in the simplest of everyday activities such as taking the lift! For example, at a lift lobby in Singapore, you can see Singaporeans repeatedly pressing buttons for the lift and checking their watches. In Jakarta, when Indonesians miss a lift, they will use that opportunity to chit-chat.”

Such experiences with new cultures is one of the reasons why Kee Kong enjoys taking on an overseas posting.

Originally from Malaysia, Kee Kong attained Singapore permanent residency and started working with Keppel Land in 2007. He was posted to Jakarta to manage the International Financial Centre Jakarta Tower Two project in 2012 after working on Marina Bay Financial Centre in Singapore.

Kee Kong’s responsibility for the International Financial Centre Jakarta Tower Two project included overseeing the overall development of the building and ensuring that international safety guidelines were enforced and adhered to.

He is now able to speak basic Bahasa Indonesia, the country’s official language, and has also adapted to the challenges that come with living and working in a foreign country.

“My life in Jakarta has been an interesting journey so far. Over the past four years, I have learnt a lot about running projects in Indonesia and the way of life here, which is something I enjoy immensely with every new overseas stint,” said Kee Kong.

Having adapted to the locals’ easygoing spirit, Kee Kong has also become quick to find ways to adapt to small speed bumps along the way.

He shared, “My biggest challenge was adapting to the way how things get done. It is not as simple as giving instructions; you need to connect with the locals and be ready to sort things out personally when things do not go according to plan.”

Away from the office, Kee Kong loves trying different local delights such as rendang (a spicy meat dish with coconut milk), satay (barbecued meat on skewers) and seafood.

His greatest takeaway from his stint?

“Living here has taught me to have a more global mindset which I believe will enable me to thrive anywhere. I recommend that anyone with the opportunity for an overseas posting goes for it! Just be ready to interact with people from different backgrounds and be flexible at work. Keep an open mind and embrace the differences, and you will enjoy the experience,” he shared.