As the Vice Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, SaptaNirwandar is a passionate all-rounder with a “seize the day” philosophy that helps him realize his grand dreams and visions.
Growing up in a time of change in a young and growing nation, Sapta had dreamt of studying abroad since middle school. After earning his economics degree, the ambitious young man was immediately employed by a leading bank with a lucrative salary and full benefits. His dream to study abroad, however, would become less and less likely if he contented himself with the comfortable position for too long.
Defying general advice, Sapta joined a national institution dedicated to the research of isotopes and radiation. This was a bold move for an aspiring economist, a move that he revealed was “necessary, since the government often offers scholarship programs for their employees to study abroad.” So began his famed reputation for seizing opportunities against all odds, and he has never looked back.
After just a year, Sapta was promoted to Head of Finance, where he was finally given the long-awaited chance to study at an international institution abroad. “I was met with another challenge. The Institut International d’AdministrationPublique (IIAP) of Paris is very well-known, but I had never spoken a word of French in my life before.”
Sapta started taking French courses and after six months he was off to The City of Love. Aside from adapting to the significantly colder weather, Sapta and his friends faced other difficulties. The language courses they had taken had not prepared them for conversational French. “One of the first sentences we had to memorize was ‘Pardon, voulez-vousparlez plus lentements’ilvous plait’, which of course means ‘pardon me, but can you speak slower, please?’”
Sapta knew this language barrier had to be conquered once and for all. He took another French course for another six months while continuing his studies and ultimately his effort paid off.
Passion for Education
Following his 10-month period of study at IIAP, Sapta earned his diploma and immediately enrolled in a postgraduate program at Paris-Sorbonne University. Craving more knowledge, he went to Paris University IX Dauphine to earn his Doctorate.
Just when he thought he’d run out of challenges to fuel his ambition, Sapta set his sights on ÉcoleNationaled’Administration (ENA), a highly prestigious school in France which has produced prominent alumni such as then President Giscard d’Estaing, French Prime Minister Michel Rocard and many other ministers at the time. ENA was a whole new ball game, since “there was very strict selection process in order to get in.”
“ENA was unique in that the entry selection is super strict and graduates are given ranks. Even the French can’t be guaranteed a place in this university which they sometimes call “c’est la crème de la crème”. Therefore, in order to be a student of ENA, I needed to be fully prepared and work extra hard all the way. With this in mind, I constantly reminded myself that I’m living my dreams. I think that’s what kept me going. The fact that I actually love doing what I did.”
Many midnight oil burning sessions and countless heated analytical group debates later, Mr. SaptaNirwandar became the very first Indonesian to graduate from ENA. With the highest administrative and economic knowledge taught by France’s best institutions, Sapta was on top of the world and ready to take on his next challenge.
Sapta’s name had become very well-known among the high ranks of the Indonesian government. One cabinet minister in particular, SarwonoKusumaatmadja, had been keeping an eye on Sapta’s journey. Liking what he saw, he recruited Sapta for his own office. Within several years, Sapta became Secretary General of the Department of Marine and Fisheries. On October 19, 2011, SaptaNirwandar was instated as Vice Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, a position he holds until today.
As a prominent figure in Indonesia’s tourism industry, Sapta runs the office in a positive and confident manner. “Nine percent of Indonesia’s Gross Domestic Product comes from the tourism sector. Add to that the country’s endless variety of natural resources, culture, biodiversity and heritage values and we have an enterprise which is unaffected by any economic crisis.”
His leadership and positive belief have inspired others to persist in their endeavors. Nothing less is expected from SaptaNirwandar, a strong figure of energetic brilliance and a dynamic achiever who never stopped chasing his dreams.
When asked if he would care to give career advice to our readers, Sapta recited his philosophy: “Dream big and go for it. Seize every opportunity that comes your way and believe in your own passion. If you work with that passion in mind, you will be successful.”