At 10 am on 10 September 2007 I started the interview in a room at Four Seasons Hotel in Jakarta, second floor. It was a bit late since the original schedule was 9.45 am. Three interviewers were in the room: two ladies from AusAID and one gentleman from the Australian Embassy for Indonesia.
Like other interviews with western people, the atmosphere was very friendly, far from intimidating. The team leader, a lady, started to introduce herself and her two colleagues. I was impressed with the politeness and the way she treated me as an interviewee. I could not see an impression that they were the important and I was the less important. We were equal. This type of interview should have been applied by enterprises in Indonesia for their employee recruitment.
The first question concerned my job and occupation. I was asked the place I work and type of business that my company runs. The process of addressing and answering questions was just like a casual chat, so that I hardly remember that I was being interviewed. There were jokes and light, yet, elegant humors also. Laughing and smiling were not forbidden in the interview. That was the impression I perceived.
The essence of the interview, in my opinion, was candidates’ views concerning the definition of leadership and how candidates are involved in leadership in their past, present and future life. One of the ladies asked me how I define leadership. To me leadership is an action. To lead is to control and manage ourselves. Therefore, leadership is about self management. I believe that in every each of us, there lay capacity and ability. Leadership is about managing and empowering those for good purpose, not only for you, yourself but also for people in a greater scope.
With regard to my leadership in the past, I mentioned that I was elected as the president of student organizations when I was in primary school, junior and senior high school. Similarly, I was also the chief of Hindu Student Organization in my university in 1998-1999. The experience therefore proved that I had done something in the past. Concerning my current leadership role, I highlighted my teaching activities and the works that I have published. Leadership, to me is also about spreading your idea to as many people as possible so they will gain knowledge and finally do something good that you wanted. That, teaching and publishing are all about. Meanwhile, for my leadership role in the future, I briefly explained my plan concerning research and possibility to give positive influence to government’s policy. [I explained this more at a later time in the interview].
The man from the Embassy asked me about the most proud achievement of mine. Undoubtedly, I mentioned my new-released book: International Maritime Boundaries followed by taking out a copy from my bag and then gave it to him. It seemed to me that the book gave him a positive impression. I then explained the content of the book and how it is strongly related to my current PhD research proposal. I could tell that the man paid so much attention to Indonesia-Australia maritime boundaries. Therefore he asked a lot and I talked a lot about it. We had a very productive and engaged conversation, I believe. Having been focusing my research on maritime boundary issues for a while, those kinds of issues (sovereignty, sovereign rights, border crossing, traditional fishing rights, etc.) perfectly fall within my interest. I thought that he was positively impressed by my answers.
The next topic concerned my research proposal. One of the important questions was that how ready I am with the topic. The interviewer asked me to demonstrate that I have adequate background in the area as well as having enough preparation to accomplish the research. For the first part, I told them that I did my masters in UNSW with a similar research topic. I finish my degree with satisfactory result and only minor correction for my thesis after examination. In addition, I confirmed them that I have been actively publishing my works (articles, papers, presentations) concerning the topic. With regard to preparation, I informed them that I have approached relevant institutions in Indonesia that I might need to contact during my research. At the same time I have been reading publications in the field from either journals or other publication media.
The next question was that how important the topic is for Indonesia. Maritime boundary issues are, undoubtedly, important for Indonesia, being the largest archipelagic state in the world. I also explain that Indonesia has ten neighbors with whom maritime boundaries need to be settled. Not only that, border management will be an issue that requires serious attention in the future.
Another important question was that how I could use my knowledge and expertise to give positive influence to government’s policy. I started answering the question by telling them my scenario. First of all I told them that I have established a new subject concerning boundary delimitation and demarcation in my university in Yogyakarta. This would be a formal channel through which I can disseminate my ideas and pass it to young generation, which in turn, when their time have come, will adequate them with knowledge so they can make a difference to government policy. This is a long-time aim. In addition, I will strengthen research and investigation in the relevant field by establishing a research center. The most important part is that I will publish more out from the research. Not only in scientific journals whose readers are limited in numbers, I will also publish in popular media, such as magazines, newspapers, and internet that are easily accessible by people in the government. Furthermore, I told them the possibility for me to be directly involved in bureaucracy or at least involved as a member of expert team in developing government’s policy, for example in the Department of Marine Affairs and Fisheries.
I also confirmed that what I said was not a “no action talk only” thing. I drew their attention to list of my publication within the last three years. More than seventy works have been published in journals, newspaper, conference proceedings, and books. This was not to show off but merely to support what I had just said so that the interviewer could gain precise information concerning my past, current and future role in the society.