Fri, 03 Jul 2015

An executive director in the Lippo Group, Mr John Riady spearheads the family business' e-commerce drive.

The group, whose chairman is Mr Riady's grandfather Mochtar Riady, has diverse interests in areas such as property, media, hospitals, education, cinemas and now e-commerce, among others. The family's net worth is about US$2.5 billion (S$3.4 billion), according to Forbes.

Mr Riady, 30, is the most visible of the new generation of leaders. He has been editor at large at the Jakarta Globe daily and executive dean at the Lippo-run Pelita Harapan University, and has participated in or was a moderator at events such as the World Economic Forum.

Born in New York, he returned to Indonesia when he was four.

After graduating from Georgetown University with majors in political philosophy and economics, he pursued an MBA at the Wharton School of Business and, later, a law degree at Columbia University.

In February, he fronted the announcement of Lippo's US$500 million investment in e-commerce site MatahariMall, which is touted to become the "Alibaba of Indonesia". Projected online and offline sales are US$25 billion after five years. "Online commerce is a US$100 billion opportunity," Mr Riady said.

Speaking to The Straits Times, he said a digital revolution is about to sweep through all markets and industries in Indonesia.

"We must adapt and change at a faster speed than ever. Existing businesses must strive to pioneer this change or risk being left behind., our e-commerce venture, is one of our major initiatives to dive into this new economy," he added.

Businesses must also think beyond Indonesia, said Mr Riady, whose wife is Singaporean. "Indonesian companies should be looking to export their know-how and expertise to these countries," he said, referring to emerging markets such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam.

While the Indonesian economy is facing a slowdown, Mr Riady said it is now up to the younger generation to take charge and help steer the country.

"I'm optimistic that in the medium to long term, the economy will rebound... But while I believe in the long-term economic prospects of the country, what keeps me here is the privilege of being able to participate in the development of the community and those around me.

"Economically, there are opportunities everywhere in the world but, for me, being able to do this in Indonesia is special."