Rami Hajjar, the newly appointed Country Manager for Philips Lighting Indonesia, only arrived in Jakarta in March but already feels at home in the big Durian.
Originally from Lebanon, Rami studied in Beirut and Paris and worked in different fields before moving to Dubai where he joined Philips in 2010. For the last 4 ½ years, he was General Manager Middle East for Philips Lighting, overseeing 13 different countries.
Rami spoke to NOW! Jakarta about his first two months in Indonesia, his new position and why he thinks that lighting is sexy.
How have you adapted to Jakarta so far?
Jakarta and Beirut, my hometown, are similar in many ways, so I adapted very quickly. Everyone here welcomes you with a smile and is willing to help. I immediately felt like I belong.
What are your tasks and responsibilities?
As General Manager, I have to take care of all aspects and dimensions on a day-to-day basis. I need to ensure that whatever we are doing is sustainable, not only from the environmental side, but also in terms of the business aspect. I have to make sure that we retain our market leadership and keep the level of engagement in the country high.
What is Philips doing in the area of sustainability?
Sustainability is highly embedded in our day-to-day business. For one, sustainability is about brighter lives and a better world, including safety in the neighborhoods around us, productivity in offices and healthcare. We have multiple dimensions that impact the lives of people that we try to tackle as much as possible. Then, there is the side of sustainability related to the environment. We have a clear goal to be carbon neutral by 2020, and we are working heavily towards that goal.
Philips was first founded in 1891 and remains a very strong brand until today. Why do you think it stood the test of time?
Age-wise, we may be old, but DNA-wise, we are very young. We keep on reinventing ourselves, and we always try to take the industry to the next level. Even as a market leader, we don’t just settle on our position. We always challenge ourselves to keep improving. Lighting is an attractive industry because it is changing so fast and so dynamic. I think lighting is sexy.
Can you give us an example?
I’ll give you an example from when I was still living in Dubai. My wife would often ask me to pick up a few things from the grocery store on my way home. I’d then go to one of the supermarkets in Dubai that uses an indoor positioning system, a lighting system we installed there. I’d use a special application, putting in the items I need to buy. Through this indoor positioning system, I’d know exactly where to go in the store to find the products, and in a matter of five minutes I’d be out again. For me, this is a sexy technology.
Maybe a simpler example is the fact that lighting has the power to make cities and landmarks beautiful. The Eiffel Tower, for instance, is a steel structure. Without the dynamic lighting at night, it would not stand out as much.
Where can we find you on the weekends?
I’m a foodie – I love the food here and am happy that there are many restaurants in Jakarta specializing on certain cuisines from different regions. So you will most likely find me in one of these restaurants or on the streets because I have a passion for street food. It helps me to explore the taste of the city.
What are your goals, both personally and professionally, for your time in Indonesia?
My professional goal is, for one, to keep the leadership of Philips Lighting in Indonesia, but most importantly, to really try to take our PPP (Public Private Partnership), meaning our engagement with the government in Indonesia, to the next level. Those will be my key priorities going forward.
Personally, I am looking forward to welcoming my family – my wife and three daughters – and my goal is to integrate with the Indonesian culture and discover the country.