Passion in Sustainability Brings Chandra to His Dream Job

When he got home to Indonesia after earning a Master's degree in sustainable building at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, Chandra was initially at a loss for what to do. It did not seem like many companies wanted to make use of the sustainability knowledge he earned in his university years.

It wasn't until he came across a job advertisement on his university's alumni page on Facebook that he found a way forward.

"I applied and joined APRIL Group after I saw a job advertisement for the APRIL Sustainability Professional Readiness (ASPiRE) program," Chandra said.

It was this chance observation that led him to work at APRIL Group. Some might call it a coincidence. Others might call it destiny. Regardless, for Chandra, being able to work together with the paper and pulp giant, APRIL Group, was a dream come true.

"The program interested me because there weren't many graduate trainee programs in Indonesia that focused on sustainability," he pointed out.

Since joining APRIL, Chandra has been tasked with several projects for the company, including arranging sustainable wastewater treatment facilities for small- and medium-sized enterprises dealing with batik production, as part of APRIL's community development programs.

He has also worked on the sustainability strategy for the Eco-Research Camp peatland research facility in Restorasi Ekosistem Riau (RER), a multi-stakeholder peatland ecosystem restoration program that covers an area of more than 150,000 hectares on the Kampar Peninsula and Padang Island on the east coast of Sumatra. The RER program was founded by APRIL in 2013.

Chandra’s work at Eco-Research Camp focused on enhancing energy and water efficiency as well as recycling capacity of this facility.

Eco-Research Camp is located on the edge of RER concession areas on the Kampar Peninsula, Riau Province.

"Eco-Research Camp facility serves as an operational base and field office for RER teams. It will also help stakeholders and researchers understand the unique peat forest biodiversity and APRIL’s production-protection landscape model," Chandra explained.

All of these were no easy task for Chandra. He encountered numerous challenges, especially in the early phase of the project.

"We had to work on three rotation projects as part of the ASPiRE program, each lasting five months. The biggest challenge was in the first few weeks of each rotation project, as we were placed in new business units dealing with new topics, so there was a lot we had to learn in order to catch up," he said.

Still, Chandra found the learning process engaging.

"It was really exciting! There were certainly challenges to be in such an isolated location, but, honestly it was an experience of a lifetime and quite impactful, in my opinion," Chandra said, when asked what it was like to work in a forest.

He also added that he particularly enjoyed and welcomed the challenges presented from the project rotations.

"The most exciting part of ASPiRE actually is the project rotations, as it allowed us to feel what it's like to work in different APRIL Group business units and allowed us to add value to these projects through sustainability," Chandra noted.

Despite all the hardships he faced with life out in the field, Chandra still shows great enthusiasm for his goal of boosting APRIL Group's sustainability commitments.

Has it made him want to move to the production side of the company? Does he have any plans to move past his current position?

"So far, no, but I haven't closed the doors to the possibility of doing that. No matter where I am, as long as I can promote sustainability, I am interested. What is fun is that the role that I am in now is in line with my interests."

Throughout his time with APRIL Group, not only has he shown tremendous interest for the work he's done in boosting sustainability for the RER program, he has also expressed great pride for being a part of APRIL Group's eco-conscious endeavors.

He particularly emphasized his respect for the company's commitment in sustainability that also provides employees with many opportunities for personal growth.

“I am proud to say that as one of the biggest pulp and paper players in the world, APRIL is able to uphold the principle of sustainability to the core. In addition, the operations is massive, so there’s plenty of knowledge and opportunities for me, just by being here,” Chandra said, during an Ask Me Anything session on ‘DiscoverAPRIL’ where he shared his daily activities to curious followers.