Indonesia’s Devastating Hunger of Effective Managers

Some friends have asked me about the statements that I sent to China Scholarship Council and earned me YES China Scholarship. The fact that you’re searching for samples of statements of this nature probably means you’re hunting for some degree / scholarship opportunity. My advice is you should first consult each university’s admisison page and find out what kind of information that particular university requires in each of the statement(s) you are required to submit. Some universities also provide more detailed guidelines or even samples of statements they’re expecting from students. These should be your primary guide.

As for me, the CSC only required one statement sent to them, called “Personal Statement of Research”. I’m providing mine for your perusal. However, please be aware that I wrote this statement with the specific goals of CSC MBA scholarship in mind:

To promote the mutual understanding and friendship between China and other countries, and to provide education opportunities to the youths worldwide who enjoy good potentials in their career development, the Chinese Government established the “Scholarship for Youth of Excellence Scheme of China—Master Program (YES CHINA)” with the aim of providing financial support to the outstanding youth coming to China to pursue a Master’s degree. For the academic year 2015/2016, the Ministry of Education, P. R. China will entrust 6 leading Chinese universities … with 6 Master’s degree programs, namely … MBA Program for Developing Countries.

A different university, different program, and different context would certainly require different type of essay as well. That being said, you need to consider that using this essay I wrote as a benchmark may not be in your best interest. If you’re still interested to peruse it though, here we go.

Personal Statement of Research
MBA Program for Developing Countries
YES CHINA Master Program Chinese Government Scholarship
Candidate: Andrea Karunia Iskandar

A. Proposed Research Topic

Turning excellent individual contributors into effective managers en masse: The roles of the state, corporations, and institutions of higher learning in ensuring availability of sufficient effective managers nationwide to sustainably scaffold and strengthen a country’s vast economic growth.

B. Background

This research proposal is conceived with two great countries, Indonesia and China, in perspective. The main context of my thoughts thus far has been my home country Indonesia, while China is an obvious benchmark due to its staggering growth and geographical proximity to Indonesia. The latter is now also aggregated with the fact that I’m writing this proposal for a research to be conducted as part of my study with South China University of Technology (SCUT).

Indonesia has been seeing GDP growth of approximately 6% annually for the past dozen of years. McKinsey’s The archipelago economy (p. 2) highlights Indonesia’s achievement of being the country with the most stable economic growth among OECD, BRIC, & South Africa for the decade of 2000-10 with a standard deviation of a mere 0.86%. During the same period, China ranked first in GDP growth with 11.5% and 13th for growth stability with a standard deviation of 2.02%.

The same document projects a vast growth for Indonesia for the following two decades ending in 2030 that may translate into “a $1.8 trillion business opportunity by 2030” (pp. 81-84). However, despite the much-hyped projection, two caveats loom big, among else: first there is a problem of low productivity level and then there will also be issues of skills gap among available workforce. Indonesia is predicted to have an under-supply of higher education graduates – those who are traditionally funneled to be white collar workers, managers, business leaders.

A different but comparable study produced by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) titled Growing pains, lasting advantage specifically mentions that there’s already an acute need of middle managers, “by 2020, a 40 to 60 percent gap between the demand for middle managers and the supply will have developed” (p. 3). Likewise (p. 4):

At senior-leadership levels, the pipeline is undeveloped .… The shortage of entry-level candidates, meanwhile, is less severe than is their lack of education, skills, and training …. By 2020, top companies will be unable to fill about one-half of their entry-level positions with fully qualified candidates.

These findings are serious threats to the growth of Indonesian economic and welfare. It will be challenging to develop a sustainably strong growth when one finds it even challenging just to create a strong corporation – and without strong corporations, how strong can the national economy be? We still need senior managers to provide strategic direction and middle managers to run the corporations’ daily operations.

At this point I deem it necessary to pause and highlight that regardless of the fad of contrasting managerial roles with that of leaders, Buckingham and Coffman, working from a huge database of Gallup’s researches have shown us that (ch. 2):

Conventional wisdom has led us astray. … Yes, companies need self-reliant employees and aggressive leaders. But all this does not diminish the importance of managers. On the contrary, in turbulent times the manager is more important than ever.

Why? Because managers play a vital and distinct role, a role that charismatic leaders and self-directed teams are incapable of playing.

Buckingham & Coffman, through their extensive research, have shown us that a deliberate effort to develop effective managers is still a goal not only worth pursuing, but gravely so in this “turbulent times”.

C. Research Goals

Goal #1.
China has been growing tremendously during the past several decades and would have had experiences, either similar or dissimilar to Indonesia, in having this kind of skill gaps and how to fill them in. While enrolled to this MBA program at SCUT, I would like to conduct a study on how Chinese government, corporations, and other institutions have been involved in developing managers to feed their respective needs for growth.

Goal #2.
Along the way, if the academic load allows for it, I would also like to identify which deliberate interventions and development plans have succeeded effectively and which ones are better be curbed. Hence, institutions and their leaders who has this need of developing a generation of future managers in their hands will have a richer perspective of the context on which their need lie and how to increase their efficacy in doing so.


Buckingham, M. & Coffman, C. (2014). First, break all the rules: What the world’s greatest managers do differently [Kindle edition]. Retrieved from

McKinsey Global Institute. (2012, September). The archipelago economy: Unleashing Indonesia’s potential [PDF]. Accessed September 9, 2012. Retrieved from

Tong, D. & Waltermann, B. (2013, May 28). Growing pains, lasting advantage: Tackling Indonesia’s talent challenges [PDF]. Accessed November 18, 2013. Retrieved from


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s