By Pamela Chan
“I was always kind of a tech and gadget nerd,” Dian Rosanti admits. Reminiscing on her upbringing in Jakarta, Indonesia, memories of her father and godfather geeking out over the latest tech gadgets in the 80s and 90s immediately spring to mind. Days were spent learning how to populate old-school spreadsheets on Lotus 1–2–3 with her father and playing around with his PalmPilot PDA device. She explains, “I’ve always been surrounded by technology products and the excitement around it.”
Her fascination and appreciation for technology merged with her desire to create, the latter greatly influenced by her paternal grandfather’s love of art. Though she was unaware at the time, this convergence was setting the trajectory of her future career in Product Management. “20 years ago, Product Management wasn’t the same as it is today, so I never knew it as a clear aspiration,” she states.
From the Emerald of the Equator to the Golden State
Characteristically, Dian chose to study Symbolic Systems and Human-Computer Interaction at Stanford University — a unique intersection of computer science, mathematics, linguistics, philosophy, psychology, and statistics. For the first time in her life, she said goodbye to Indonesia and made the move to the United States.
She had only expected to work in the Bay Area for a year before returning home after graduation, but life had other plans. “I loved my lifestyle and community in Indonesia, so I didn’t expect to be sucked into life in the Bay Area,” she recalls, “Before I knew it, a decade had already passed.”
During her time in the U.S., Dian worked as a Data Analyst at both YouNoodle and Quid, then entered the Product Management space at Flipboard and Change.org. She pinpoints her time at Change.org where her ambition in utilizing technology for social good was ignited. “I came across a place where I could work on tech products and also think about the impact I could make on underrepresented communities,” she describes, “This is the minimum criteria I have for evaluating any opportunities moving forward.”
While one may assume her desire to return home had long vanished by this point, Dian had actually been scouting the Indonesian tech landscape for potential job opportunities since graduating in 2009. However, given its nascent infrastructure at the time, there were no openings that fit her bill. Less than a decade later, this same landscape had completely transformed.
“By 2018, there were plenty of product roles in Indonesia and I decided that I wanted to do something different and reconnect with my roots,” she states, “I could finally do this without compromising my career.”
On a personal front, Dian felt her Indonesian identity slipping away the longer she stayed abroad: “I didn’t want to lose the Indonesian part of me that I love so much. It’s such a big part of my childhood and who I eventually became.”
An Exceptionally Smooth Homecoming
Despite her years abroad, Dian had a relatively seamless experience re-acclimatizing to life back home. Forgetting some basic Indonesian vocabulary and getting used to the idiosyncrasies of Indonesian work culture were a few obstacles she had to overcome, but in her words, “They weren’t a huge deal.” What was a huge deal, however, was deciding which company she wanted to dive into.
While she was in San Francisco, Dian had already been in contact with Gojek’s co-founder, Kevin Aluwi, through mutual friends. In fact, Dian had helped connect Kevin to the tech scene in Indonesia in preparation for his move home from California (subsequently building Gojek). After years of discussions with Kevin about the Indonesian tech landscape and product and organizational challenges at Gojek, Dian believes joining Gojek was a natural progression. She adds, “Having witnessed the evolution of Gojek and its organization over the years, it was my first and only choice.”
As Gojek’s Head of Product Management, Consumer Platform, Dian sits at the intersection of technology, customers, and the business. She oversees three platform groups consisting of the True Consumer Platform, Cross-Platform, and Engineering Platform. Together, they work to understand the needs of our customers and business, define the problems to be solved, and collaborate with various departments to devise the most viable solutions.
For instance, when the Product Ops stream was a team of two part-time contractors back in 2018, Dian and her teammates set up Gojek’s first Product Management Career Progression Framework and hiring program that governs several departments’ hiring strategies today.
Through the Customer Lens framework, this same team championed two declining health metrics into the company’s OKRs. When Dian transitioned into the Consumer Platform role in 2021, she collaborated with other product teams to restore these metrics to health, achieving an App Store rating of 4.5 and evolving their efforts to improve their new-user activations rate into a cross-company task force.
More Than Just Apples & Oranges
With years of working in both Silicon Valley and Indonesia under her belt, Dian cites three factors when she compares both experiences. Back home, she notes the sense of pride and belonging as an Asian/Indonesian woman that she never experienced anywhere else. “I grew up here. I’m building something. I would’ve never ridden on an ojek back in the day because it was too intimidating to stand around and flag one down, but now I use GoRide every day. There’s that connection of ‘I understand this’,” she remarks.
And because Gojek is largely a daily-use product, she’s closer to the fruit of her labor than she was stateside.
“You see GoFood signs at restaurants and driver-partners on the road,” she details, “It’s different when you see it offline at this scale. Gojek is so embedded in our daily lives here and I get to see it every day.”
Additionally, she underscores the diversity of perspectives present here: “In Silicon Valley, it was just the ‘valley’ point of view. At Gojek specifically, there are people from Indian start-ups, people who went through the Indonesian tech boom… their thought processes are so different from what I had experienced in the United States.”
Finally, Dian shares her advice to fellow Indonesians who are considering returning to Indonesia: “You know this. It’s like riding a bike. If you’ve grown up here or spent a significant amount of time here, it’ll come back to you relatively quickly.”
For anyone else looking to explore what life would be like on this side of the world, she adds, “Indonesia is one of the friendliest countries in the world with a large expat community who’ve even moved their families over. It’s hectic but in so many ways simpler than life abroad. It’s worth the adventure to find out what’s in store for you.” She laughs, “Even my husband from Arkansas loves it here.”
Dian’s story is one of taking smart risks, utilizing her talents to better her community, and holding true to her Indonesian identity. Though relocating to the opposite side of the world can be a daunting task, she shows us that it can also be as easy as coming home.
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