Consummate communicator

For Christovita Wiloto, The key to achieving a strong image is in communication. More than a decade after leaving a career in banking and corporate communications to start Wiloto Corp, he continues to look for ways to make the most of his abilities.

Sashia Samira spoke with him recently

Christovita Wiloto has never forgotten what he learned about working with other people: that the development of proper communication skills is essential to transmit a sense of urgency and enthusiasm. ”Communication is important.. A misunderstood word or wrong timing can create as much disaster as a sudden thoughtless act,”he stresses.

He learned about the importance of communication early on in his banking career. In his early 20s, the strategic management graduate clinched a corporate planning and communications position with Bank Niaga. In 1994, after three years at Niaga, Christovita was made general manager for strategic planning at Bank Tiara Asia.

His next job, as the agency secretary of the Indonesia Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA), pushed him in the direction of becoming his own boss.” I was young, in my late 20s, but I had a lot of responsibility within the investor relations division as spokesperson for the chief of IBRA, Glenn Yusuf. Whatever came out of my mouth on his behalf was significant because it delivered important news.”

He recalls his stint at IBRA as an exciting time, but he also recognized that he had an urge to embrace his capabilities and take himself to a higher level. He started a small advertising company with his brother, but that proved to be the wrong route.

Then, in 2000, Christovita took the plunge and established Wiloto Corp, a consultancy and strategic public relations company. “I borrowed Rp 30 million worth of jewelry from my wife for initial capital,” he recalls. “Fortunately she was supportive and I managed to return it in a short time,” he says, adding that the cash was used to rent an office space at City lofts Sudirman near theJakartacentral business district. Christovita took to his new profession easily; big-name corporates already knew of him and his expertise from his previous positions. ”My first big project was to change the image of what is today one of  Indonesia’s most recognized property developers,” he recalls. It was a matter of formulating a well-planned strategy to increase the company’s penetration in the market.

His idea was to market the name, a property project in the Pakubuwono,South Jakartaarea, with the help of events and taxi service. “Over several months we made sure taxi drivers knew the location of the property project, to create public alertness. “My public relations company often held corporate and government events on the property. As a result, several guests became interested in buying property,” he continues.

“Indonesia needs to be more prepared to face the global economy. We have all the resources, but we still need to cultivate them, especially our human resources. I’m optimistic that we can reach an international level,”

Limits to growth

Each successful project led him to the next, bigger one. But Chirstovita was careful to understand his own capabilities, and focus his attention fully on key group of  clients. To this day, Wiloto Corp. is still known as a boutique consultancy.

“Each year, we handle 12 clients at most, so that we remain focused on formulating the best strategy for them,” Christovita explains. While declining to name names, he adds that his clients range from airlines and banks to property developers and other companies.

From that initial capital of Rp 30 million, Christovita has added considerably to his bank account. Globe Asia estimates the company’s annual revenue to be at least Rp 10 billion, more than sufficient to put bread and butter on the table, with enough left over to expand toChina, theUnited States andSingapore, where Christovita resides to stay close to his larger clients.

“My wide network and portofolio allow me to offer my service not only to local companies, but also to multinational companies here, or those about to enterIndonesia,” he observes.

And more is on the way, with some outside help. “I have further plans to improve my business. I know my limits and I think engaging some patners will benefit the company’s development. ”While Christovita hasn’t yet decided on the exact partnership model – he list franchising or profit sharing as two options – he is intent on putting it into motion before the end of this year.

Tomorrow’s leaders

As part of corporate social responsibility activities at Wiloto Corp. Christovita, who has also written two books, The Power of Public Relations and behind Indonesia’s Headlines, spearheaded the IYE! Or Indonesia Young Entrepreneurs scheme as a way of embracing and nurturing a wide network of young entrepreneurs. “I am a young entrepreneur, and there are many others like me,” he explains. “IYE is acommunication circle for young entrepreneurs to exchange business profiles and to expand their networks.”

Founded in 2005, IYE! Is a forum of some 9,000 members. Its mission is to encourage as many young Indonesians to be entrepreneurs as possible, says Christovita. “Following the 1998 financial crisis, I realized thatIndonesianeeded more small-and medium-sized enterprises.

People are free to join IYE! And free to exchange information so that they can learn from one another. “By becoming new entrepreneurs themselves, they are not only improving their own profiles, they’re also helping the community by creating new jobs,” he points out.

Through IYE!, Christovita hopes to help members indentify opportunities to help boost the economic strength ofIndonesia. He enjoys coordinating entrepreneurs campaigns and roadshows throughoutIndonesia, with the help of other influential speakers and businessmen. In line with his passions, IYE! Has also become an instrument to improve awareness of the importance of communication in marketing.

“Indonesianeeds to be more prepared to face the global economy. We have all the resources, but we still need to cultivate them, especially our human resources. I’m optimistic that we can reach an international level,” he says.

Clearly, Christovita is eager to help build a country to keep up with the changing world. In the meantime, he is well on his way to being recognized as one ofIndonesia’s best-known public relations consultants. Trihatma Haliman, CEO of the Agung Podomoro Group, observes that Christovita has a solid understanding of how to communicate and build a strategy through innovation and creativity without overlooking the campaign’s essence and aims.

NotedIndonesialawyer Todung Mulya Lubis acknowledges Christovita as a man of many ideas, many of them unusual, with a knack for reading the market and public sentiment.

Away from his professional profile, Christovita is also interested in democracy and justice, often following his intuition to help people in need. He puts it down to creating balance in life.

“What I do as business is help people to achieve a certain level within their field. But what I do for a living is help people or communities; as long as I am welcome to help them, I will give them my best efforts.” GA