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Administration: Syarifatul Yulia

Growing up in Pangkalan Kerinci on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, pulp and paper company APRIL Group played an outsized role in 25-year-old Syarifatul Yulia’s life.

Her father worked for the company for 30 years until his retirement. Her mother and husband still work there.

Working in the paper mill of APRIL Group

And much of the growth of her hometown from small village to bustling city has been down to the presence of the company.

“I basically see APRIL as my family now, because my father worked here too, since 1988 until his retirement in April 2018.

“It’s almost like a relay race, where I received the baton from my father to continue my leg of the race,” Syariffa says.

She was born in 1994 – just a year before commercial pulp production began at the newly-constructed APRIL mill. At that time Kerinci was home to just 200 dwellings.

“In the past, I viewed Kerinci as a small town with an inadequate economy and makeshift buildings,” she says.

Roads were rocky journeys - and muddy ones too, if it rained, she recalls.

“It was hard to get anywhere, like the market, if it was raining and we had to stay put and wait it out,” Syariffa says.

However, as years passed, APRIL constructed more buildings, including schools, places of worship, healthcare clinics and leisure and recreation facilities.

“The atmosphere in Kerinci became livelier – much livelier,” she says.

Seeing the changes the company was bringing, Syariffa set her sights on joining APRIL herself when she was older.

“Even people outside Riau know that [operating arm] Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) is a big company in Indonesia, that’s the strong impression I had during my childhood.

“I believed that such a big company would give me a better life and future,” she said.

Her determination to join the company was bolstered when she became a Tanoto Foundation Scholar in her second year of university. She received the Sayap Garuda Scholarship, which at that time assisted students whose parents work in RGE Group companies in rural areas.

In January 2017 she joined the company as a secretary, responsible for all administrative matters – ranging from recording employee attendance to processing their claims, and supporting employees with their on-field safety equipment requirements, so that they always work safely and comfortably.

Syariffa says that when she arrived, she was glad to see for herself that the expectations she had of working for the company were met.

“I really feel that the company offers a lot of developmental support to employees so that they don’t just work quietly at their desks, but instead become people who work well with their teams in line with one of our core values – Complementary Team.

“When I came here, I had no experience working in this industry. But the company is willing to train us, and gives us much learning through doing,” she explained.

RAPP also helps employees to develop in other ways – one of which is through the Toastmasters Club, a public speaking club which the company set up, she added.

Syariffa’s Toastmasters journey had already begun earlier, as she joined when she was still a high school student.

“My father was invited to join the club but he didn’t want to go as he felt that he was old and didn’t really need it.

“He said it was probably better for me to go instead and try to gain something out of it, so he told me he would take me there,” she recalls.

RAPP supports employees through the toastmasters club

Syariffa made many new friends at the club, most of whom were RAPP employees who encouraged her to join the company when she had completed her studies.

“At the club, we don’t just learn how to become more influential through the use of English, we also develop leadership skills which are valued by the company,” she says.

In the future, Syariffa hopes to continue her studies to the Master’s level, with RAPP’s support.

“I’m really interested in the pulp and paper industry so I really want to continue developing my career here,” she says.

She also hopes that she might be able to pass the RAPP baton to her own daughter one day.

“Both my mother and husband also work for RAPP, so you could call us an RAPP family!

“In the future, if my daughter expresses an interest, I will encourage her to also join the company, and to enjoy the same benefits that my family has enjoyed so far."