Part 41. Pauwsan Sutanto and Helmy V.

In this part of the interview we start to investigate the damage which TBI nepotism did to TBI Kelapa Gading in 2009.

How many school managers did TBI Kelapa Gading have in 2009?

It had three.

We have learned that TBI Serpong has had 4 school managers since 2009 and so has TBI Kelapa Gading. TBI Kuningan has had 6 different school managers since 2007 and two former managers have subsequently been blacklisted or grey-listed. How can three schools go through 14 school managers over a five year period? It seems mad.

It is mad, but the answer is very simple. Head Office is the problem. They are the ones appointing and removing candidates and overseeing the business. You see Mariam took over as the TBI Director in 2007 and the company has been on a sharp downward trajectory since then. Leadership is crucial in business; everyone knows that. The reason these schools are in such turmoil is because they are lead by a former batik-vendor and current ‘choreographer’ who spends more time organizing amateur dance troops than she does running TBI. She is only in the position because her husband is an extremely wealthy banker whose parents are on the board who runs USG. The whole situation has been made worse by her poor judgment in choosing advisers. She has chosen Ashley Platts- who claims to be a business expert but really couldn’t even manage TBI Kuningan well- and Luke Preece- an Aussie surfie from Port Noarlunga who never went to university but claims to have a Science Degree with a Geology Major. The rot is mostly at the top, with these three in particular, but they blame their own incompetence on their subordinates.

People who worked with Helmy V.- the second school manager from TBI Kelapa Gading- tend to burst into laughter at the mention of his name. Why is that?

Helmy was probably the most unsuccessful TBI school manager ever. He would really take some beating.

Let’s start with the positives. What was good about working with Helmy as a manager?

His shirts were always very neatly ironed. He had immaculate personal hygiene and treated his face a couple of times a day with some kind of special moisturizing cream. He had a lovely complexion. Um…..I’m out.

Did you work closely with him?

Yes and no. After a while I became his Academic Team Leader (AcTel) while he was School Manager, so in theory we should have been working closely together. But as things started to fall apart he came into the office less and less. He claimed to be out looking for business or whatever but no business ever came in. He went home early most days- usually around 4 pm. He did very little supervision or work that I could see and the whole school started falling apart.

How did your appointment as Actel come about?

It’s a bit of a story. Before Helmy was appointed School Manager, Pauwsan Sutanto approached me and asked if I would be interested in the position. I was surprised to say the least. Just a few weeks before I heard he wanted to break my contract without paying me out and now he was sounding me out for the School Manager position. I said that I would like to do the Actel position, but I didn’t want to become School Manager. I said that I had heard on the grapevine that Head Office wanted to appoint someone called Helmy from TBI Semarang. He said that people in Kelapa Gading seemed to prefer Native Speakers and he had his doubts about Helmy.

Then in May 2009 Helmy arrived and the former school manager, BF, was tasked with showing him the ropesDigging your own grave is what the task really was, I suppose. I doubt BF put much effort into the task and who could blame him? During this period Helmy V. was also sent for Ashley Platt’s infamous KPI training, which he had charged TBI large consultancy sums for, even though he had plagiarized it from a well-known book. Like everyone else, Helmy came back none the wiser from Platts’ deadly dull regurgitation of a real business expert’s ideas.

I next saw Pauwsan Sutanto around July 2009 when he popped into the school. I stopped him and asked about the Actel position. Was it still on offer?

He took me aside and one of his ‘little chats’. He confessed to me that TBI Kelapa Gading was doing very badly under Helmy. Student numbers had fallen rapidly and the school was losing tens of millions of a rupiah a month. This was all just six weeks after Helmy had started! He said he was very worried about the way things were going. He said he didn’t want to have an Actel because he couldn’t afford any more month in salaries.

I said I would do it for an extra 1.5 juta a month. In retrospect it was a bad decision, as I was now locked into a working relationship with Helmy V. The next few months were among the worst in my time with TBI; I was the Actel in a collapsing school. I eventually realized that Helmy had caused student numbers to fall from 200 to 120 students within his first 2 months in the job. A 40% fall in student numbers within 2 months: it has to some kind of TBI record.

Let’s explore how Helmy V- Mariam and Ashley’s recommended manager- achieved this remarkable feat tomorrow.

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