Optimizing tech for good

Ridzki Kramadibrata.

The digital economy is surging in Indonesia—and as president of Grab Indonesia, Ridzki Kramadibrata, MBA ’99, is helping to lead the charge.

Launched as a ride-hailing app in 2012, Grab has since exploded in popularity, pushing Uber out of Southeast Asia and amassing 214 million downloads across eight countries. It has become one of the continent’s most used super apps, with wide-ranging services from package, food and grocery delivery to cashless payments, insurance and investment solutions.

With a vision to drive the company forward, Kramadibrata oversees business, public affairs, strategic partnerships and expansion for the app in Indonesia.

During the coronavirus pandemic, he led Grab’s health and safety efforts, equipping its vehicles with separators to minimize interactions between drivers and passengers. The company also introduced new products to help users, including GrabMart for delivery of daily essentials and GrabAssistant, an on-demand concierge. Once vaccinations came online, Grab partnered with the Indonesian government to host clinics in 54 cities—ensuring 100% of its driver partners were vaccinated.

“In my role, I lead initiatives that help make everyday life easier for millions of people and empower entrepreneurs with technology to expand their market and grow their business,” says Kramadibrata, who will be honored with the Industry Leadership award by the UB School of Management in November. “Every morning I wake up, I’m motivated and energized thinking of the incredible impact we make—and what more we can do.”

Kramadibrata’s journey to the forefront of Asia’s tech revolution began with a bachelor’s degree in management from Universitas Padjadjaran, Indonesia, and an MBA from the UB School of Management. He was initially drawn to UB because of its strong reputation and the example set by Tanri Abeng, MBA ’69, a leading executive who would become known as the architect of Indonesia’s modern economy as an advisor to five presidents.

“I knew that to be successful in my career, I would need global exposure,” Kramadibrata says. “I wanted to get a different experience from Indonesia and was really keen to taste a cold winter—and, oh boy, did I get what I wanted.”

As a student, Kramadibrata was initially challenged by the open dialogue his professors encouraged in class—a sharp contrast to the lecture-style setup he knew back home. He embraced the experience, though, and broadened his perspective, amassing skills in such areas as marketing, communications and organizational behavior.

From there, Kramadibrata spent a decade in the telecommunications industry, most notably as executive vice president of marketing, product and CRM for Indonesian provider Bakrie Telecom. In 2012, he shifted into the airline industry as chief operating officer for AirAsia Indonesia; he was later promoted to regional director of the airline group.

“The MBA program can’t give you all the skills you’ll need in the professional world—but it does equip you with the basic skills to learn and adapt quickly to new business settings,” he says. “For example, through managing flight crews, I know how to communicate with large groups of people, which comes in handy now with our partners at Grab.”

Kramadibrata left the airline industry for Grab in 2016 and plans to stay for many years to come.

“As much as my career has changed, two aspects stay constant: using technology and delivering impact to people,” he says. “As I get older, I’d like to spend more of my personal time contributing to my community. I’m still thinking about how to do that, but you can bet it will include using the latest technology to impact more people.”

By Matthew Biddle