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The Journey of a Visionary Leader – Sukanto Tanoto

By Businessman

An inspiration for many, Sukanto Tanoto is an influential personality, not just in his home country Indonesia, but also across the world. He is the founder and chairman of RGE (Royal Golden Eagle), a group of companies belonging to different industrial verticals. However, that is not the only way the world knows him. As a visionary, pioneer, skillful entrepreneur, business leader, philanthropist, and a community development participant, he continues to earn recognition at the global level.
 
Born on the Christmas of 1949 in Medan, Sukanto Tanoto had to give up schooling. Another blow came with his father suffering from stroke, leaving the entire responsibility of the six younger siblings and the family business of spare parts supplying and trading came to his shoulders. It was then that this young man in his early twenties took the lead and developed sharp sightedness and judgment.

Sukanto Tanoto needs no introduction as the man who pioneered many industries in Indonesia and is actively involved in the socio-economic development of the country for almost five decades. His journey started as a teenager who was forced to leave schooling and went through the rough phases like his father suffering from stroke and the huge responsibility of six brothers younger to him. The only hope was the family business of supplying and trading spare parts and he made the best out of it.

With diligence, acumen, and vision, he gradually diversified the business and won contracts in the construction of gas pipelines for Indonesian Oil and Gas Company called Petamina. When there was severe oil crisis in 1972, his business expanded in this region due to soaring prices of oil and gas. The early exposure helped him develop his business vision, which he eventually used for diversification. His frequent trips to the foreign lands further provided him with business ideas that also witnessed the initiation of new industries in the country.

In 1981, when his business was just pioneering, Mr. Sukanto Tanoto along with his wife Tinah Bingei Tanoto, was actively involved in establishing kindergarten as well as elementary schools in the remote village of Sumatera Utara province. They named the school ‘Bersitang’ in 1981. As of today, Sukanto Tanoto is also the Founder and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Tanoto Foundation, which is a recognized philanthropic organization committed to poverty mitigation through quality education, enhancement, and empowerment.

Be it the inspiration of building the country’s first plywood mill during a trip to Taiwan or the motivation of establishing palm oil industry in Indonesia while traveling to Malaysia, Sukanto Tanoto worked against all odds to turn these dreams into reality. He soon ventured into commercial property construction business and gave Indonesia the iconic Thamrin Plaza and Uni Plaza. It was his vision to commence pulp and paper production in the country that became reality in the 1990s.

Today, he heads the global group RGE that has started building strongholds in the countries like Brazil and China. With assets exceeding US $18 billion, a workforce of over 60,000 people and Tanoto Foundation that contributes towards community building program through education and employment, Sukanto Tanoto is the man every Indonesia is proud of.

As a business group with a vision, RGE aims to become one of the world’s largest, most sustainable, and best managed resourced-based groups. It also focuses on creating value for the country, community, customer, company, and environment.

Mr. Sukanto Tanoto is one of the most eminent personalities in Indonesia, known for invincible entrepreneurship and vision. The pioneer of various industries, Mr. Sukanto Tanoto is the Founder as well as the Chairman of Royal Golden Eagle (RGE) group of resource-based companies. RGE, which was formerly known as RGM, was established in the year 1973. The business of plywood transformed Indonesia from a mere exporter of logs and raw materials to one of the most dependable value-added processors.

With the business based in Medan, Indonesia, Mr. Sukanto Tanoto’s RGE is now a global business platform that employees more than 60,000 people. The company has an asset worth over USD18 billion and manufacturing operations are now taking place in China, Brazil, and the home country, Indonesia. Needless to say, his company aims worldwide sales. With this kind of stupendous growth and the leadership of Mr. Sukanto Tanoto, the company has reached heights of success with each endeavor.

All the companies managed by RGE group operate on the basis of sustainable growth in various operations and sectors. Their goal is to achieve efficient production combined with excellent quality and to ensure energy savings.  Along with that, he also aims for long-term economic success but only in a responsible manner. With an excellent team of human resources led by the management team working synergistically, the RGE group has successfully built a dynamic, global, and multicultural business environment.

The principal guideline of RGE is based on the Triple Bottom Line approach – People, Planet, and Profit. This very thought makes Mr. Sukanto Tanoto more than just an entrepreneur and he is much touted as a successful and responsible citizen of the country. His company, RGE, primarily focuses on the benefits of the community, country, climate, and customers, which eventually contributes to the growth of the company.

Built on strong foundations, the business group founded by Mr. Sukanto Tanoto continues to leverage their resources and skills to consolidate the leading positions in the most amazing markets of the world. With strong and steady corporate governance, RGE believes that reliable corporate governance is the only way to achieve long-term success and sustainability. RGE business groups, though very much a part of the team, operates independently with its holding company and board of directors governing the body. The management supervises the business strategies and operations thoroughly. All business plans emphasize on accountability and objective decision-making. As a result, a higher level of professionalism is ensured and integrity is successfully retained.

Mr. Sukanto Tanoto, the visionary, actively participates in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as well as philanthropy. The entire RGE business group maintains a long-term commitment to the social and economic standards of the country, thus being well aware and contributing to the socioeconomic growth and well-being of the country. The business group also collaborates with local villagers to provide them with vocational training, farming skills, and better economic assistance. Mr. Sukanto Tanoto is also the member of INSEAD International Council and the Wharton Board of Overseers along with various other community, educational, and industrial bodies. He has received several awards, including the prestigious Wharton School Dean’s Medal Award that recognizes an individual’s contribution to the development and enlargement of the overall global economy and towards the improvement of lives and living worldwide.

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