Kamis, 05 Juli 2012

Dumasi Marisina Magdalena Samosir: Up for the challenge

DESPITE her many responsibilities as director of PT Asuransi Sinar Mas (ASM), Dumasi Marisina Magdalena Samosir always tries to remain positive to keep her employees motivated. “There is a new challenge every day, so we must always be riding above the challenge and if possible breaking records. If the director is in high spirits then the employees will be likewise, and all sorts of targets can be achieved,” she said.

She admits she is someone who bores easily and needs to be tested in her work. “From the very start I have enjoyed working here because there are always new challenges,” said Dumasi, the only director at the insurance company. “The ASM shareholders are very visionary and have given us all ample opportunities to express ourselves.”

She is comfortable with the open, family-style management at the firm, emphasizing smooth communication at all levels up to the board of directors. “If it is stuck at the lower level it will be automatically escalated at the higher level. Furthermore, information technology makes it possible for monitoring and effective communication,” she said. “All employees and staff members are fully aware they may not make reports just to please the director. The office layout also indicates easy and open communication because the employees have easy access to the offices of the director and president director.”

She heads six divisions: accident and health insurance (marketing and technical director), agency, CRM, personal lines and all branches in South Sumatra and East Indonesia, also as marketing director.
She strives to motivate employees to be more productive and creative by giving them opportunities for free expression of ideas. “Lots of our products and services are based on their ideas, both original or the result of benchmarking from their foreign business trips.”

She also makes use of the monthly meeting of each division for brainstorming to gather creative ideas from each team. Should there be a mistake in implementation, it is categorized as a “cost of learning” to ensure that there will be no stifling of ideas. Creativity is very important in the insurance business because of the commonality of products in the sector, “so we must be unique and different,” said Dumasi, 47.

The company offers various insurance products, including coverage for bicycles, gadgets, expatriates, layoff protection, retirement, property, auto and health.

Career development
She usually asks HRD for personal communication with employees experiencing problems in developing their careers. “Most important is that he or she does not become a burden on the company.”
The employee, usually based on the results of a skills assessment, is given necessary training for further promotion. “Patience and persistence are the key factors in handling such employees, especially those who have been with the company for a long time,” said Dumasi, who is an avid gardener.

Despite the success of her career, she said it had never crossed her mind to work in an insurance company. After graduating high school, she continued her studies in Bandung where she attended three universities: the Bandung Computer Institute and Pajajaran and Parahyangan universities. She stopped her economic studies in the fifth semester at Pajajaran to focus on her education at Parahyangan, where she graduated as a civil engineer in 1989.

The mother of three at first followed her educational path as a contractor, but it was only a six-month stint. She applied to ASM, on a mistaken assumption as it turned out. “At first I thought it was a vacancy at a bank so I simply applied like that,” recalled Dumasi.

In the 1990s the insurance business was still in its infancy in Indonesia, with the prevailing image of agents going from door to door to sell policies. She had second thoughts about entering the sector and instead wanted to return to higher education. “At the time I took an English language course to prepare for my MBA,” she said.

However, she changed her mind on the advice of her interviewer, Mr. AK Rakshit, a technical adviser, who said that working for the firm would take Dumasi to many countries because she needed to gain insurance knowledge. His prediction came true; she says she has visited almost every nation on five continents both for business and vacation trips. And she has worked with the firm for 23 years.

Problem solving
She is shrewd in identifying problems hampering a project through monitoring their progress. When they do not run according to a timetable or business plan, she immediately pinpoints the cause. According to Dumasi, differences of opinion are bound to occur but she does not let them develop into conflicts. “We must view differences as a means to achieve the best way and synergize them to solve all problems,” she said.

“Whether the cause is internal or external we must immediately hold discussions with all related parties to find a suitable solution, However, sometimes we cannot do anything about external factors. Then we can only wait and prepare everything necessary.”

She has her own strategy in facing conflicts with clients, such as after the 2004 Aceh tsunami, the 2009 earthquake in Padang and the Bali bombings. Clients are often emotional, panicky or desperate following their traumatic experiences. “My principle is never fear conflicts, face them and solve them quickly,” she asserted. “My experience has shown me that if we can solve the conflicts we will secure further business from the same client and he or she will even refer us to friends and relatives.”

She constantly challenges her internal team to find ways to turn complaints into business, always supported by ASM’s abiding principle of settling claims fast. Her professional principle is to keep employees in high spirits. Her company does it through regular training, and also by praying together every morning. The daily prayer at all ASM offices is to remind employees that their work is a form of worshipping God. She believes the power of prayer is very real, and pointed to the profit of 70 percent in 2010.

There is also a concerted effort to share information about the company’s achievements with employees for them to understand that their hard work is appreciated. “The success of one team will inspire the other teams so that they can produce their best work,” she said. (Lily Glorida Nababan)
The Jakarta Post, March 31, 2012

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