The passing of Prof. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto marks the end of an era for the business and academic communities. A luminary figure who entered ITB in 1965 during a pivotal period in Indonesia’s history, Prof. Kuntoro left an indelible mark as a transformative leader, educator, and nation-builder.
Founding SBM ITB was a watershed moment, an audacious move orchestrated by Prof. Kuntoro and eight other visionary ITB professors, including Prof. Surna Tjahja Djajadiningrat, Ir. Arson Aliludin, DEA, Ir. Nurhajati, MSc, Prof. Jann Hidajat, Ir. Budi Permadi, MP, Prof. Sudarso, Prof. Dermawan Wibisono, Prof. Utomo Sarjono Putro, and Prof. Aurik Gustomo. Appointed by the forward-thinking rector of ITB, Dr. Kusmayanto Kadiman, on December 31, 2003, these founding members embarked on a groundbreaking mission to establish the School of Business and Management (SBM) ITB.
The inception of a business school within Indonesia’s oldest technological institute sparked intense debate and opposition from the senior ranks. The creation of a school meant standing alone, detached from the well-established faculties of Engineering, Science, and Arts. The decision was a radical departure, presenting a challenge for the ten professors involved, who had to ponder the implications of building something that was still unclear in its form.
Undeterred by the unconventional nature of the initiative, the eight professors, guided by Prof. Kuntoro’s mature concept, spirit, endurance, and commitment, embraced the vision. As Prof. Kuntoro once stated, “Tell me, I believe, and I’ll join. Sami’na wa’athokna – a fatalistic principle uncommon in my life.”
The concept introduced a new era of independent management, drawing inspiration from educational models in the United States and the United Kingdom. SBM ITB gained full autonomy in financial management and the recruitment of faculty and staff, a pioneering approach with a minimum 70:30 ratio—a result of extensive research on the prerequisites for the establishment of an institution.
From utility bills to security personnel payments, from water supply to physical facility renovations, staff and faculty salaries to institutional development—everything was driven by self-sufficiency. It was a bold move not every faculty dared to undertake.
In the early days, Prof. Kuntoro emphasized the importance of avoiding the “re-bleeding” phenomenon, discouraging the recruitment of faculty solely from one institution. His vision included a diverse faculty composition—40% from Indonesia and 60% from abroad, aligning SBM ITB with world-class standards. Drawing inspiration from universities like NUS and NTU in Singapore and Chulalongkorn in Thailand, Prof. Kuntoro envisioned direct collaborations with American universities.
Despite the bureaucratic constraints in Indonesia, Prof. Kuntoro propelled SBM ITB to rapid growth, achieving the status of Indonesia’s top business school and securing international accreditation from AACSB—a feat accomplished by only 6% of business schools worldwide.
His dedication to values instilled by the founders, such as integrity, commitment, and the sanctity of education, played a pivotal role. Prof. Kuntoro emphasized “Walk the Talk,” where words align with actions, fostering a reputation for cleanliness and leaving a lasting legacy for the institutions he managed.
Prof. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto’s visionary journey, from the corridors of ITB to the establishment and growth of SBM, will be remembered as a testament to his unwavering commitment to education, innovation, and the advancement of his nation and alma mater.
Prof. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto was known for his nationwide experience, as Head of President’s Delivery Unit for Development Monitoring and Oversight (UKP-PPP) in 2009-2014, a ministerial post at the 2nd United Indonesia Cabinet assigned to be the “eyes, ears and hands” of the President. He was also recognized globally as the Head of Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Agency (BRR) Aceh-Nias from 2005 – 2009 to restore the Aceh and Nias areas after the devastating tsunami in 2004.
He also served as a Council member at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), Chairman of WWF Indonesia, and the Chairman of SBM ITB School Advisory Council. Obtained his master Stanford University and later doctorate from ITB, Prof. Kuntoro had given public lectures at universities worldwide such as National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, and Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. In May 2012, he received Doctor Honoris Causa (HC) from Northeastern University together with former US Minister Colin Powell. He also was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold, and Silver Star from Japan in 2023 for his contribution in developing Japan-Indonesia bilateral cooperation.
Our sincerest condolences and unwavering support for Ibu Tuti Mangkusubroto and family. Prof. Kuntoro’s legacy will forever live among us.
Contributor: Prof. Dermawan Wibisono, the founder of SBM ITB