Interview with Visiting Professor Ian O. Williamson, University of Melbourne

2017-01-30-PHOTO-00004638Professor Ian O. Williamson, a visiting professor in SBM ITB is the Helen Macpherson Smith Chair of Leadership for Social Impact at the Melbourne Business School (Australia). He currently serves as the Associate Dean, International Relations and Co-Director of the Asia Pacific Social Impact Centre. He is also an Associated Scholar at Rutgers Business School (USA), the Zurich Institute of Business Education (Switzerland) and Institut Teknologi Bandung (Indonesia). He received his Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA) and a bachelor’s degree in business from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio USA). Prof. Williamson’s focus is on developing effective cross-sector partnerships to address key economic and social issues across the Asia Pacific region. Prof. Williamson’s research integrates human resource management theories with macro-level strategy and organizational theory perspectives to examine the impact of “talent pipelines” on organizational and community outcomes.

In particular, his research examines how human and social capital influences firm operational and financial outcomes, talent management in the context of new ventures and growth-oriented firms, the role of human resource practices in driving firm innovation and the impact of social issues on firm outcomes. Prof. Williamson’s research has been published in several leading academic journals covered by several leading media outlets across the world. As Director of S&S Futures Williamson has provided consultant services in the areas of strategic human resource management, employee recruitment and retention, assessment centers, and executive coaching for such organizations as Accenture, ANZ, BHP Billiton, Bunnings, Clemenger Group, Etihad Airlines, Fletcher Buildings, McCormick&Company, Nestle, News Corp, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Petronas, Lockheed Martin, NAB, The Royal Women’s Hospital (Melbourne), and Urbis.

He recently sat down with us to share his experiences so far:

Q: Professor Ian, welcome to SBM ITB. Would you please tell us what brought you to SBM ITB for a visit?

The mission reason why I interested in SBM ITB was because I heard about the working you are doing in entrepreneurship, I knew that this school is very close tied to Indonesian’s business community. As a researcher, I’m very interest in understanding economic development of Asia Pacific region, specifically within Indonesia. And so, when I saw things you’ve been doing to support the development of business in Indonesia, that became very interesting to me. So I had the opportunity to one day visit this school in 2014, where I met some of few faculty, and were very impressed with the program they had and the things they were doing. And when I saw the opportunity to come back for visit again for one semester, I jumped in the chance. I figured it would be a good way for me to form some other collaborations, but also for me to start some other research in the area of entrepreneurship and learn a lot about the way you’ve created the program to support and foster entrepreneurship in business development.

Q: Are you teaching any courses during your visit at SBM ITB? If so, what subjects?

My teaching is primarily in the area of human resource management, but that topic allows me to talk in a wide settings. So I work in a large companies, but also do work with small firm-entrepreneurship firm. From government agencies, also non-profit organizations. We are all looking at how the organizations using talent, as a way to create value for others. So there will be the talent of entrepreneur, but there will be the talent of employee, of a specialist, of a government official. All of them have the same thing in my mind, when you taking skill sets and creating service or products, they have value for others.

Q: What do you think about the talent of entrepreneurship in Indonesia?

I think Indonesia is the sky of limit. So this is the country that’s going through to tremendous growth, there is a lot of opportunity here. And I couldn’t imagine more virtual soil for entrepreneurship in Indonesia, the economy is growing, there were lots of things happened in the last of years that created a strong environment of business. You have exceptional skill, very excited students who have a lot of creative ideas. They are digital natives, so they are thinking about information technology as a way of creating business that you don’t see elsewhere. It’s still the case of the cost of start a business here is low relatively to other places, which means you can trying new things. So I think the environment of entrepreneurship in Indonesia is very rich and they will see a lot of success story that come out of some activities they are seeing here in SBM ITB. The programs that you have to support that, bringing in the mentors, having a lot of group works from individuals that collectively work together reporting out, the very close partnership they have with their faculty that giving good advice continually. All those things are creating great foundation for very positive businesses.

Q: Why is this subject is important for the students?

The exciting opportunity working with entrepreneurs is they are creators. And if you think about Indonesia, Indonesia is in the process of inventing itself. Indonesia of 10 years from now, would not like Indonesia today. I think Indonesia in 2026 would be a positive one. But for that to happen, you’re going to have a lot of creations such as new enterprises, new infrastructure, new systems and the people who will gonna do that are the people who join the school. So, make it sure appropriately they have good skills, good values, and able to connect not for their own well being but also impact for the community. All those things they learnt here. So for be able to be a part for one semester working with them, is really important because the things that they’re going to do and create is shaping not just Indonesia in particular, but also Indonesia as the largest country in ASEAN which have a great influence in ASEAN economically also culture and politically. So it is going to make big impacts.

Q: What is your teaching philosophy?

As an instructor, the first part of my job is help people to craft questions. Often times, people think good professor is the one who give good answer. But I think a really good professor is the one who can provide questions, help people craft their own questions, make them curious. The second part is, to create environment where students learn from each other. So you have very talented students here in SBM ITB, which is not easy to get admitted to SBM ITB. Why would I want them listen to me? They have all these talented people around them. How could I create environment is by allowing them to learn from all the experiences and expertise around. If they do that, they going to have a lot of options how they can act their ideas.

Q: What are your plans after your visit at SBM ITB?
My big goal after this semester here, I’ll be able to continue some research collaborations with some of fantastic faculty here. They will start some projects and I will a chance to do some research on some innovative Indonesian businesses and learn how Indonesians operate in this environment an be able to write papers about. But also big picture, I would love it if I can help set up partnership between this institution and my institution, perhaps we can have student exchanges, faculty exchanges. That would be wonderful and will benefit both institutions.

Thank you, Professor Ian O. Williamson, for your time!

Transcription by: Margareth Tobing

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