Meet Wavemaker Indonesia’s Amir Suherlan

An avid runner, Wavemaker Indonesia MD Amir Suherlan (pictured) takes his dedication in sports into his line of work. He has over 20 years of experience in the advertising and media industry working at agencies such as Initiative and Dentsu. During those times, he has worked a range of local and multinational clients including Unilever, Nestle, XL Axiata, Shopee,, Sampoerna Philip Morris, Konimex and Bank Danamon.

However, he believes that no man is an island and actively empowers his team, giving ample direction, space and trust to help them grow. He said:

Years of agency life have taught me to be more adaptive and fluid – these are especially useful during situations where stress and tension levels are high.

“In such situations, I will seek out potential constructive solutions from my team and assess the situation before making crucial decisions,” he added. In July this year, Suherlan took over the reins from Ajay Gupte, who expanded his remit to take up the role of COO South Asia. Prior, Suherlan was the MD at Mindshare Enterprise in Indonesia. Hear more about his growth journey below.

Marketing Interactive: Who was the mentor who influenced you the most?

There are two mentors whom have provided me with guidance and council in my career progression.

Himanshu Shekar, my current direct report, is one of them. Himanshu’s energy is contagious and influential – regardless of the situation, he will always be energetic and forward-looking. He never fails to challenge and encourage me to push boundaries and explore the unchartered waters. It is without surprise that back then, under his strong stewardship and leadership, Mindshare Indonesia has been growing exponentially in the past five years, having won many prestigious awards locally and internationally.

Additionally, I have also learnt the importance of and art of grooming talents from Himanshu. More often than not, we are too focused on numbers and revenues, neglecting the importance of talent development in the process. I am proud to say that the both of us have managed to identify and groom many new talents for the media industry.

The second mentor is Ibu Theresia Hendarmin. She was my first media director during the start of my career at Dentsu Young & Rubicam (DYR). She was instrumental in helping me understand, identify and manage the important micro and macro aspects of the business, whilst keeping the big picture in mind.

Marketing Interactive: What has been the proudest moment in your career?

There are countless unforgettable milestones but I’ll pick two – winning the first international awards in 2015 and today, as a leader of Wavemaker Indonesia.

Marketing Interactive: What inspires you the most?

Eliud Kipchoge, the best and fastest marathon runner. He clocked 2:00:25 for a full marathon at the Nike Sub2 Project in May 2017. His never say die attitude awes me. He trains tirelessly and adapts new modes of trainings in order to constantly improve his skills. He raises the bar time and again, and pushes limits by targeting to break his personal records. This is in line with my belief that you are your own best competitor.

I also admire his receptiveness towards tools and technology as enablers to push himself even further through his recent inclusions and adoptions of modern science and technology innovations in his training regimes.

Marketing Interactive: What’s the toughest part of your job?

Albeit inevitable and unavoidable, the pain of losing great talents and failing to persuade them to stay keeps me awake at night. However, I am grateful and it is heartening for me to see that most of them have moved on to become influential and reputable people in the industry.

Marketing Interactive: What do you do in your free time?

I’m a simple family man and am grateful to be surrounded by four most beautiful and charming ladies in my life – my wife and three daughters. Nothing beats family time and taking them to the new places during a short weekend break. I am part of a running community, and participate in races leading up to marathons on a regular basis.

Marketing Interactive: How do you ensure a proper work life balance?

In the current world, it is difficult to clearly split between work and life as it is highly interconnected, almost 24/7. I have given my family heads-up on the late nights and commitments my job entails and they respect that. However, I always try my best to take time off work and allocate me-time and family time as much as I can.

Marketing Interactive: What’s your favourite vacation spot?

My home is my sanctuary and to be, it is my best vacation spot to unwind after a long day at work. If time permits, I will bring my family out for short road trips to parts of Indonesia, or we may sometimes travel to other countries in Asia as well as other continent.

Marketing Interactive: What issue would you like to see the industry change in 2019?

I hope that our industry will give more attention to, focus on and put in more investments towards talent retention and development. The talent landscape of today is extremely volatile and unstable, especially so in our industry where talent attrition is high – we might lose talents when they get baited by competitors offering short-term incentives.

Companies within the ecosystem should accept the importance and responsibility to groom more quality talents rather than seeing it as a stark cost and overlook the long-term benefits behind it.

Marketing Interactive: What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out?

Before I embark on a new project or role, I inject loads of positivity into it by saying, “Every moment will teach you something good. Although it is irreversible, it will be a lasting memory and if you love what you do, you will always give your best shot!”

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