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Fighting stereotypes around the role of women in the workplace is nothing new for Rita Alim, Deputy Director of External Relations at APRIL Group.

Prior to her appointment  to a leadership position in the Indonesian pulp and paper industry, she had been working in male-dominated environments since the beginning of her career.

Rita Alim RAPP APRIL

Rita first began to challenge traditional norms when she enrolled at a private university in Surabaya to study Information Technology. At the time, very few women majored in technology. However, Rita did not see that as a problem. Instead, she enjoyed an active university life. She was even appointed assistant lecturer of the laboratory at the university.

“I always believe that being smart is not enough. We also need to adapt to our social and cultural environment to achieve our targets,” according to Rita.

She maintained this attitude throughout her career. After earning her bachelor’s degree, Rita proved again that women could break free of gender stereotypes in thee workplace. She became the first woman to work as a sales engineer at an industrial coatings and chemicals company in East Java.

The male dominated environment simply strengthened Rita’s determination to enhance her skills. Rita, a pilates and yoga enthusiast, received a scholarship to pursue her postgraduate degree in Marketing at Northumbria University in the UK.

She then proved again that women and men are equal in the workplace when she secured an internship with the police force in the Newcastle. During this time, Rita worked mostly with male colleagues to conduct research on the police’s efforts to engage with ethnic minorities.

Her experience has shaped Rita’s career. After 11 years at APRIL, Rita is now a strong female leader whose team includes many male employees.

Currently, Rita is responsible for maintaining strategic external relationships, particularly with the local government ministries concerning licensing. Furthermore, Rita is actively involved with the Indonesian Pulp and Paper Association (APKI) where she serves as Sustainability and Environmental Director.

Rita said she could not have achieved what she has without the full backing of an employer that supports the effective participation of women in the workforce and equal opportunities for employee development. “APRIL supports its employees and also gives room for female employees to lead in strategic positions,” she said.

The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #choosetochallenge, and Rita encourages women to continue fighting for equal rights and to continue growing without losing their identity.

“The key is to never lose faith and confidence. Women belong in the leadership positions – we just need to be confident and maintain the ambition to achieve our dreams. Happy International Women’s Day!”

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