The WFE's Women Leaders 2022 - Risa Effennita Rustam, Director of Finance & Human Resources, Indonesia Stock Exchange

By: The WFE Focus Team Mar 2022

Member: Indonesia Stock Exchange

Nominee’s name: Risa Effennita Rustam

Nominee’s job title: Director of Finance & Human Resources

1. - Brief description of nominee’s role/job:

As Indonesia Stock Exchange’s (IDX) director of finance and human resources, my job covers IDX’s support functions: Finance, HR and general affairs. The scope of my responsibilities includes planning, implementation, managing and running all of IDX’s finance and accounting activities, developing and executing human-resource strategy, managing the office facilities and infrastructure of the head office and 30 IDX representative offices across Indonesia, procurement and general services, all in support of IDX’s business and strategic plans. I am also responsible for coordinating and implementing programs related to sustainable development (SDG’s) at IDX.

2. - Short bio (career highlights, education, interests/hobbies):

I have been with IDX since June 2018, the sixth female director in IDX’s 28-year history. My career in the capital markets started in 1990 when HSBC - my first job after graduating (in economics) from Gadjah Mada University - assigned me to its custodial services department to manage one of its biggest accounts, Baring Securities. My first senior management role, as a director, was in 1999 with ING Securities, then as director/COO of Macquarie Securities from 2004 until 2016. In March 2021, I was appointed as one of Indonesia’s G20 EMPOWER Advocates or representatives by the Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection, as part of Indonesia’s G20 Presidency, to promote female leadership and economic development, as well as share good practices with other G20 and non-G20 countries. I have also been the head of market development of the Indonesian Capital Market Sustainable Finance Task Force since September 2021. I love reading, especially political thriller novels and biographies of strong women. I also enjoy travelling as it gives me opportunities to learn about other cultures and societies, and it helps me to grow as a person.

3. - What were your professional highlights and challenges of 2021 (ie why should you be on this list)

The unprecedented circumstances posed by the pandemic created the most challenging part of my work in 2021, especially during the surge of the Delta variant in June-July 2021. Managing employees’ morale, motivation, teamwork, productivity, and maintaining their health and wellbeing at the time when many of our employees and their family members were infected and Jakarta’s hospitals were overwhelmed, and ensuring that IDX’s No. 1 mandate to provide orderly, fairly and efficient securities trading was not disrupted, meant that -among many other things- HR had to be continuously reviewing and updating the company’s pandemic protocol, policies and procedures, so that we were able to respond to all the challenges effectively. The task included the 30 representative offices across the country, each region having its own health system with its limitations and challenges.

Last year also gave me a career highlight: being appointed as one of Indonesia’s G20 EMPOWER Advocates by the Minister of Women Empowerment and Child Protection. I was happy to accept this appointment because, firstly, as a member of the UN Sustainable Stock Exchange initiative and a partner of UN Global Compact, one of IDX’s SDG targets is gender equality (goal no. 5), which is also the mission of G20 EMPOWER. Secondly, when IDX started the journey to look at our workplace gender equality status, we learned some new things about equal opportunities: that women have different life experiences than men, therefore some affirmative action is needed to encourage our female talent to advance. I’m currently the only woman on IDX’s board of directors, and only the second female CFO & CHRO (the first one was 20 years ago). Studies have shown that diversity and inclusion at the decision-making level are good for business. So, becoming a G20 advocate is a great opportunity for me to have an impact and promote the benefits and opportunities that come with gender diversity in the workplace to our stakeholders, which include more than 700 listed companies and 94 exchange members.

Following the appointment, IDX implemented various initiatives to address the issues and improve gender equality and female empowerment practices. We also organised and held numerous webinars and sharing sessions to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and to share best practices among our stakeholders in the capital markets. The most recent was held on December 22, 2021 (i.e. Capital Market Women Empowerment Forum “Advancing Gender Equality for Sustainable Finance in Indonesia Capital Market”) to commemorate Indonesia’s Women’s Day. During this event, we launched a major initiative, Women Leadership in Executive Position in IDX200 Census, which is an annual census among 200 of Indonesia’s biggest and most actively traded listed companies on IDX.

4. - What and who inspires/has inspired you to achieve your professional success:

My mother, who is one of the brightest in her big family, but had to drop her education (including a scholarship) and career aspirations to be a full-time homemaker, has always been an inspiration for me, especially her independent self, dedication to her family and her tenacity. She taught me and my siblings a lot of skills since we were young, such as sewing, cooking, batik painting, etc. She also loves reading, and often took me to local libraries to introduce me to Indonesian literary novels, something that was not so common in my days and in my culture. Though she had to give up higher education and career pursuits, she has always encouraged me and my siblings to reach higher in education and career, and to this date, at 85, still is my number one supporter.

Our employees are also another great source of inspiration. Helping them to develop their talents to reach their full potential is one of the joys of working at IDX for me.

5. - What advice do you have for other women who aspire to be in leadership positions:

My advice is to go for it! Embrace the opportunity and the challenge. Be confident in your abilities and make sure you are ready to go the extra mile because it takes a lot of hard work, perseverance, and compromises with your personal life. And, of course, to enjoy the journey!


The views, thoughts and opinions contained in this Focus article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the WFE’s policy position on the issue, or the WFE’s views or opinions.