We sat down with Mr. Achmad Ridwan Deskana, General Manager of Aston Braga Hotel & Residence to talk about his career journey. How he managed to land his current position, as well as how he spends his life as a leader and family man.
Hello, Sir! Thank you for your time.
My pleasure! Welcome to Aston Braga.
Okay, let me straight to our interview. First, can you tell us about the beginning of your career in hospitality
First I want to give a disclaimer, that I am not a graduate of ENHAI. I am an alumnus of UNPAD 96 majoring in Accounting. Many people surely are wondering, “How come?”. So, my thesis discussed Cost Control. At that time, my friends took a general theme about internal control, which if it wasn’t in a bank, it was in the factory. But, I did my research at Hotel Indonesia. I thought I could get the data quickly, but apparently, I had to intern for 3 months on cost control. So, I interned there and from there I was interested in hospitality. Alhamdulillah, my thesis got an A + because it was different. Well, since then many people have just learned that accounting majors can also work in hotels.
So, did you develop your careers in Finance as well?
Yes, I did. The first time I worked was at Sari Ater as a Finance Manager. There I know the details of work at the hotel. I also just found out that there was a GM above me when I worked there. I was there for only 8 months. Then I worked at the café because in my opinion at that time, my cost control research would be very suitable to be applied in the café. It turned out to be true, I lasted up to 3 years there. I returned to work in a hotel when I joined the Sheraton Bandung.
On your CV, it is written that you get a lower position than at the café when you return to work at the hotel. Why?
Because at that time I was taking S2. I saw that the officials at the hotel were very busy. It seems like it would be difficult if I have to divide my time with my classes. At that time my class was from 5 pm to 11 pm. That’s why, I chose to downgrade, which was in the cost control section. It turned out, starting from Cost Control, my career showed significant progress. Although it was quite hard because I did it while I was still doing my Master’s degree, I was grateful to be able to do it well. So from there, my career continued to improve until in 2010 I joined Aston Braga as a Financial Controler.
Then, how you finally managed to land your position as General Manager in Aston Braga?
To be honest, even when I joined here, I never thought of becoming a GM. Over time, the owner might see the potential in me. Looking at hotels that are getting older, in 2013 there needs to be a decision whether to continue to survive or fall. I was later appointed as GM in 2013. The first time I was offered, I refused, because I was afraid of being blunt due to meetings, meetings, and meetings. Unlike when I was in Finance, I was always challenged by work, like reprimands from the tax office, wrong reports, and so on. At that time I had lost my way. I was confused, if I took this job, then who could teach me? Finally, I did the midnight prayer to ask for enlightenment from the almighty, and finally, I took the job.
What are the difficulties you face while being a GM?
Honestly, I was very stressed when I first became a GM. Then I thought if I kept this way it would be bad. I could be sick because of myself. Finally, I taught myself, I went to my seniors who were already successful. They gave me lots of input so that the hotel cash flow would remain good. From there I searched how to set up a good way to set cash flow. There, I started to enjoy doing my work. I also learned that besides being able to control the hotel, I could also put my best people in their best positions. Finally, we could create a conducive work environment. Yes, there were occasional fair differences of opinion, but that’s life, dynamic.
How is your leadership style?
If my department heads have different views, I will let them. Because from there we could know what is right and what is wrong. When things are right, I take them for use, when things go wrong I won’t blame them, because sometimes people will make mistakes. Therefore, I always take it easy, but still serious on the daily briefing. Alhamdulillah, many of my colleagues here have been with me for a long time. And thank God we can still survive until now. It is very important that a leader is down to earth and understands how his staff feels.
Then, how do you get through the various pressures that arise when you become a GM?
Whenever there is a problem, my escape is not to pour it out on other people. I pray. My father also once said, “If you become a leader, one important thing is not to be arrogant. Then, do not leave a prayer. Like a coconut tree, the higher, the stronger the wind. That wind can change people’s hearts and feelings. And you shouldn’t be envious of people’s material. You can only be envious of their knowledge so that you will continue to study and learn. “So, for me, Allah is the almighty of all my teachers. Nothing can beat. So I am afraid of being arrogant. After all, this hotel can survive even now thanks to the help of my staff and department heads.
Now after 7 years as Aston Braga GM, what else do you want to achieve with the hotel?
We are preparing strategies for 2020 so that we can continue to compete with emerging hotels. FYI, even though our hotel has been around for quite a while, we still have a lot of loyal guests. I believe it is thanks to the homey atmosphere of this hotel, so our guests are willing to come back here.
With all of your activities, what do you do on your day-offs?
When on vacation, I always spend time with family, although sometimes it is bothered by urgent problems in the hotel. But I always prioritize my family. Then if I’m not going anywhere, I read a lot. I really like reading about psychology and leadership. When there is more free time, I choose to sleep, because to be honest, I am very sleep-deprived.
Who’s your inspiring leader?
Usman Bin Affan. He is a smart figure in terms of finance, statistics, and strategy.
Finally, what are your personal plans for the future?
If I don’t work at a hotel, I will work as a lecturer. Maybe I will combine finance, accounting, and hotel. Because so far there are still many hotels that are constrained by financial problems. In addition, I can also deepen my knowledge of revenue management.
Okay, Sir, that’s it from us. Thanks a lot again for having What’s New Bandung.
You’re welcome. Please come again anytime.