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7 Questions on Leadership with Lishia Erza

Name: Lishia Erza

Title: CEO

Organisation: Candra Naya Lestari

Lishia is a serial entrepreneur, a sustainability economist and business mentor with various global and regional recognition; Global Top 100 Women in Supply Chain, Women in Fintech Powerlist 2021 in ESG category from InnovateUK, and her portfolio company was also awarded World's Best Sustainable Finance Solutions Provider in Supply Chain Finance by Global Finance in Europe. With business experiences in nine countries, Lishia now leads a portfolio of the sustainable businesses for Pranata Karya Santosa (Prakarsa) Group - one of Indonesia's largest industrialists; managing investments and operations in circular materials, heritage hospitality management, renewable energy, estate management, financial services, agriculture and digital technology. Lishia is also co-authored Indonesia's Sustainable Investment Guideline published by The Ministry of Investments/BKPM of Indonesia; Vice Chair of the Permanent Committee for International Industry Access, Indonesia Chamber of Trade and Commerce (KADIN), and Chair of the SME Inclusive Economy committee at APINDO, Indonesia's Employers Organisation. She also sits on various boards of national level organisations and a thought leader at B20, G20, ASEAN and APEC summits.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Lishia's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

Most challenging is making sure all team members can keep up and uphold the same core values of continuous improvement and thirst for learning. As our portfolios evolve, peers evolve, some staff are just disinterested to grow further or unable to do so because of their own self-limiting beliefs.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

I suppose since early on in my childhood I've always had the leadership bone. I lead my friends in kindergarten, I was school prefect most years, president of the student council or some clubs at school... all the way to adulthood and career I suppose. I was never afraid to step up to take on responsibilities, or entrusted to lead by my peers. I've had the privilege to explore various leadership styles given the exposures, and learn about leadership skills from various programs. I also learn from other great leaders how to navigate complexities.

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

I'd start my day with some light reading, coffee, sometimes exercises when not traveling. I would then participate in meetings whether they are coaching my staff meetings, or coordination meetings with teams, or attending stakeholder or client meetings... in the afternoon sometimes but very rarely, I would have a quick swim, refresh myself. Some deep work hours would be embedded into my day by managing my calendar slots, and then if there are learning events from my organisation and some community work, I would place that too. Evenings are usually dinner with family or friends, or sometimes during work travels then my time is not my own. Before I sleep I would check my calendar for the following day, to gauge how much rest I need to clock in. If nothing urgent, I would treat myself to films, TV, reading, or watercolour painting.

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

I was reminded that investing in team development, spending the time to design the organisation with the long term value in mind provides more sustainable business outcomes.

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

The book would be Musashi by Eiji Yoshikawa. I read this book when I was in high school, and the inspired me throughout. Until recently I think the book by Michael Dell - Play Nice But Win: A CEO's Journey from Founder to Leader became a recent inspiration. But coming back to Musashi, the book Musashi is a historical fiction based on the life of Japan's most celebrated swordsman, Miyamoto Musashi. Whilst based on real events and people, the characterisations and story are largely or entirely fictitious. The writing was fascinating but then it got me to read further on Samurai culture and philosophy. The Bushido Code, for example, talks about Integrity, Respect, Courage, Honor, Compassion, Honesty and Sincerity, Duty and Loyalty. So whilst Musashi lived in 1500s, the same core values still apply today.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

You're young, make your mistakes early. Always keep an open and receptive mind, constantly improve your skills and knowledge - find a mentor if you can, and also be honest to yourself including being brave to forgive yourself when you make mistakes.

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

I've worked and led teams in various sectors and in various countries in the span of my career. My team members would say that I am generous in my time to empower them, and being a role model for striving to give my best to every task. I've had people come and go throughout the years, but from time to time, I get DMs on social media the pas few years from former team members saying hello and thank you, said that the skills and the values i inspired them with way back when was how they got to good positions and great opportunities today (this includes to staff from 20 years ago!). I feel proud and also happy for them. As a leader sometimes I wonder if all the coaching, patience, dedication, and some tough love mix were any use... i guess now I know.

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