Two months ago, Meliza Musa Rusli was appointed as president director of GoFleet, a joint venture between Gojek and Indonesia’s largest auto distributor PT Astra International Tbk, which has also invested USD 250 million in the ride-hailing firm.
Rusli has extensive experience in finance. She was a banker in several multinational financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, and UBS. Before she joined Astra International, she was president director of PT Goldman Sachs Indonesia from 2010 to 2013. But she left the firm to start a family.
“One of my rock bottom points was when I had to leave my job [at Goldman Sachs]. Moreover, at that time, I had reached the highest position in a bank, but I was in my late 30s and didn’t have a child. Finally, I decided to stop working for two years and focus on my family,” Rusli said.
It didn’t take long for Rusli to return to the corporate world. In 2015, Accenture Indonesia took her on as managing director and head of financial services. The following year, she joined Astra International as chief of corporate development. The joint venture with Gojek is giving her the chance to apply her operational know-how to the tech sector.
“I used to be very involved at the corporate level. This is a valuable opportunity for me to manage operations like GoFleet. I can feel the operation right away, especially in a business that is engaged in technology. I can see how the operation works directly, mainly for the collaboration between business and technology,” Rusli told KrASIA in a recent interview.
GoFleet is a service launched in July that rents out vehicles and offers insurance protection, maintenance, and more for Gojek’s driver partners in Greater Jakarta, in particular those who join the ride-hailing service GoCar. GoFleet plans to have 1,000 cars on the road by the end of the year.
As the leader of GoFleet, Rusli is hands-on when it comes to monitoring recruitment so she can make adjustments to the operation using firsthand information. Rusli believes that GoFleet’s impact can be felt most strongly among Indonesia’s informal workers, which account for about 70% of the nation’s labor, according to the 2018 OECD Economic Survey of Indonesia.
So far, what has surprised Rusli is that the individuals using GoFleet often seek approval from their spouses and children before becoming Gojek’s driver partners. Frequently enough, entire families would show up to pick up a vehicle, making the initiative’s impact on low-income families visible.
“This [working with GoFleet] is something new that I had not found yet in Astra, where we have formal employees. In GoFleet, we face different type of customer such as informal workers, there are so many new aspects that we face in the new business,” Rusli said. “Astra had a rental fleet business before GoFleet, but the customers are corporate and retail. So Gojek’s team in GoFleet learns from Astra about how to manage its pool of rental vehicles.”
For Rusli, there is an extra layer in the work she does at GoFleet. “The most important thing is we could feel the impact to the economy directly, mainly for the informal workers that form the largest sector in Indonesia,” she said. “I feel that they need support from the corporates and the government.”
Two reasons motivated Rusli to take the reins in GoFleet. First, she noticed that the tech sector is still dominated by men, so she set out to prove that opportunities within the industry are available to all genders.
Secondly, she wants to demonstrate that a large conglomerate like Astra can link up with a tech company—despite holding different business cultures—to generate meaningful innovations. In this case, Rusli’s goal is to provide added value for Gojek’s driver partners.
In this JV partnership, Astra and Gojek are learning from each other, Rusli said. “Data is Gojek’s main currency, main asset,” she explained, and that is giving Astra a new way of thinking about how to manage its customers. At the same time, Gojek is picking up operational management techniques from Astra.
Rusli sees her leadership of GoFleet as a message to other companies in the country. “We need to encourage more Indonesian corporates to collaborate with Indonesian startups. Certainly, we’d like to see the digital economy of Indonesia accelerate faster,” she said.
GoCar is already available in 54 cities in Indonesia. In the near future, GoFleet plans to introduce its services in several major cities in the country. For now, Astra is seeking special rental transportation permits from local governments.
This article is part of “Women in Tech,” a series by KrASIA that highlights the achievements of women who are a driving force behind South and Southeast Asia’s tech startups.