Andrei has been living in Indonesia for the past 3 years and he is currently running the Indonesian office of a multinational IT company. He is responsible for the development of 750 employees, while making sure they achieve the global objectives of their organization. About his life and the interesting mixture of work and pleasure in Indonesia, in today's interview.
Name: Andrei Vladimir Lascu
Abroad since: 2012
Living in: Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Current position & company: General Manager, Gameloft Indonesia
TGR: Andrei, you have reached a top position in one of the most exotic places on Earth! What do you mainly do in Gameloft Indonesia?
AL: I ensure the successful delivery of software development projects and of course the stability & growth of the team here in Indonesia. I am just as responsible for the people as I am for the projects.
It's part of my role to develop people and give them space to try on new responsibilities. I try not to keep too much just for myself. I am the one to paint the global picture to my team, by providing a vision that encompasses all their departments and that perhaps would be difficult for them to come up with on their own. Through this vision I try to always sketch both short term (more related to projects and milestones) and long term goals (more related to building useful habits, to developing ourselves and each other).
Is your team mainly made of locals or expats?
My direct team of 5 people is around half-half. The entire team here, however, contains 750 employees, 99% local.
What about your free time - do you usually spend it with locals or mainly other expats?
Both. Like everyone, I prefer to spend my time with like-minded people that perhaps share similar interests. But since such people are sometimes a rare find, I explore. I enjoy meeting people with very different backgrounds and from very different cultures. In my group of friends there are locals but also a wide range of nationalities. It's easier to relate to expats because we face similar challenges living here. I also enjoy the friendship of some locals that lived or studied abroad and are very intelligent and open-minded.
Andrei, why Indonesia? I guess not only due to the top position in Gameloft...
Yogyakarta is a wonderful place. It's a relatively small provincial city placed on the Java island between an active volcano (Merapi) and the Indian Ocean. The native people (Javanese) are very welcoming and peaceful, their culture is absolutely fascinating.
I love (our) life here, the job is very rewarding and we are getting ready to start a family.
Is there anything disappointing, maybe something you've expected to be different?
Sure, there are moments when I feel disappointed or frustrated. First of all, everything is different. So there is an inherent frustration in having to adjust to so many things. However, being an expat in South East Asia can be very rewarding if you care about investing in your life by adjusting to the local culture instead of expecting the locals to adjust to you. Having lived in Indonesia for 3 years I already adjusted my expectations and got to know the culture & the socio-political environment a bit better.
Do you feel integrated in the foreign society?
Well I speak the language quite fluently and I married a local I think I integrated pretty well. Even so, I know I will always be an outsider here but the locals are quite open-minded and welcoming to foreigners. Can't say the same about the authorities and the legal system.
I suppose living in such a wonderful place offers a great deal of unique experiences. Can you give me an example?
I've had at least two experiences that prove life can be more exciting than movies. First was when police raided our office thinking it was an online gambling den. They were ready to shut us down! One of them even punched our security guy. That's also the incident that got me private meetings with the mayor, the head of police and even a live interview on Indonesian national television. it has also been covered by BBC News and other international publications. It all happened due to a tip received by the police from our neighboring community. After that we invited all our neighbors to the office to show them what we really do!
Not really the kind of publicity you needed, but it's nice things turned out well for you! What about the second one?
The other unforgettable experience was when I woke up on a Friday morning, checked my phone and saw a couple of messages from my co-workers asking if they should come to work that day. "it's Friday, why wouldn't you come to work?" I asked. "Andrei, look outside your window". I pulled the curtains only to find something that looked very similar to what I imagine the apocalypse would look like. The sky was orange and it was snowing. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief and took another look at it.. it wasn't snow I was seeing, it was ash! A volcano had erupted and by the time I woke up the entire city was covered in ash. It wasn't even Merapi, the closest volcano (which is also the most active one in the country), it was Kelud, a volcano laying some 350km away. The explosion had been very violent, launching clouds of ash high up in the air where the wind could carry them as far as Yogyakarta.
I called my HR manager to ask what companies do in these circumstances and after checking with a few people from other companies, he told me they do "flexi time". Meaning "if you can come, late or on time, please do. If not, we understand."
That's indeed something you don't see every day! And? Did they show up?
About 450 out of 600 employees! I was impressed, especially since I knew what an ordeal it has been for me to get on a motorcycle and drive to work that day. There were clouds of ash floating in the air, I couldn't see more than 3-4m in front of me and every car that passed by only made it worse. I got to work looking like a chimney sweeper.
Seeing the conditions, we knew there was no way for people to go out and get lunch so we decided to order food for everyone. We maxed out the capacity of McDonald's so we had to order from all the McDonald's and all the KFCs in town.
It took about a week until the first rain, the one thing everyone was waiting for since it's the only thing that can help the ashes settle. Only after another month or so the city came back to normal.
Well, it is crystal-clear why you enjoy working in such a pleasant environment, surrounded by so many dedicated people! Now, let's talk a little bit about our country. How often do you travel to Romania?
Once a year usually. Lately it's been about combining a holiday with my close friends' weddings.
What do you mostly miss about Romania?
My family & friends. The food. The fact that the sun sets a few hours later, the day seems very short here (sun sets by 6pm all year round).
Do you see yourself moving back? What could convince you?
I might. Main reasons to move back could be my children's education (the education system in Indonesia is just awful unfortunately) or the lack of new job opportunities.
How do you perceive Romania today?
I think my own views on the world have changed a lot so I see Romania with new eyes. I realize how much it matters to live abroad, to get to have a deeper contact with different cultures. For the sake of being more open-minded and tolerant... I think things are also evolving in Romania, the business environment became more interesting, there are a lot of cool projects & start-ups and we are starting to embrace technocratic governing.
Please tell me something particular about Romania that you would usually say to a foreign friend.
Romania is simply beautiful, has a fascinating history and well preserved historical areas to tell those stories. You can explore castles, get lost in nature or enjoy the nightlife. Bucharest is the number 1 party scene of Europe. Last but not least, some of the most beautiful women in the world were born here
What is your biggest dream?
To build a business that brings a solid contribution to society and can be managed flexibly, allowing me to travel anywhere I please.
Any final remarks regarding our home country?
All in all, I love Romania and I am proud to be a Romanian citizen.
I am glad you feel that way and hope your contribution to the Romanian society will be felt sooner than ever! Thanks, Andrei, for your time, looking forward to your performances and further boost of your career!
The Golden Romania
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