Kiki (K): Hi everyone, welcome back to Kartini Teknologi with Kiki and Galuh here. Today we’re at episode 17 and we’re currently with Nadine Siregar, founder of Generation Girl, which is a program that some of you might have heard before. What is Generation Girl? We’ll talk about it with Nadine. But before that let’s say hi to her. Hi Nadine, how are you?
Nadine (N): Hi, I’m good, how are you?
K: I’m good, alhamdulillah. Cool. Maybe many of our friends here are curious about Generation Girl or other programs that Nadine is working on, but like the previous guests let’s start by talking about how did you get interested in tech?
Galuh (G): You worked at Gojek right after you graduated, right?
N: Yap. I graduated in the middle of June, and then there was Ramadan, and right after Ramadan, the Monday after the Eid, I worked at Gojek. Like, right away.
G: Out of all companies, why did you choose Gojek?
N: So when I applied for Gojek, I actually grew up in Singapore right, I wasn’t really aware of the tech space in Indonesia. After I graduated, went to college, and returned to Jakarta, that’s the first time I lived here. So I had no idea what the tech space was. My parents just told me, oh maybe you want to apply to these companies, and Gojek was one of those companies. When I interviewed with those companies, Gojek’s culture fit me best, because they were already quite forward thinking, they had this startup culture which I was used to in the US, not too traditional. so although Gojek was quite small back then, they were already quite forward thinking, so for me it was a culture fit, and their engineering is also really great for Indonesian standards. They also said that they will be adding more people from outside the country to expand their engineering knowledge. I was just interested in this company which product I had never used and I didn’t know the impact of Gojek back in 2016. I was not thinking about the impact, I was thinking about me, I was new in Indonesia, in Jakarta, my Bahasa Indonesia wasn’t too great, so I needed a culture that I felt safe in and it ended up being Gojek.
G: Gojek is one of the companies which impact is really huge in Indonesia. How did it feel like working as an engineer in a company that a lot of people depend on, how did it feel to work in a company like that?
N: Actually when I joined Gojek back then I had no idea about Gojek’s impact in Indonesia at all. When I first joined many of my relatives and friends were like, Nadine, you’re so cool, working in Gojek, and I was like why are they still interested? Because for me it was another company, another product. When I worked on the product, of course we ordered GoFood every day, I started using different Gojek products and was working on different projects and I saw Gojek’s impact too, it’s really helpful not for the customers but to increase the driver’s lives and their lvielihood. To me, that actually sparked something, because before I worked there I had no idea what the impact was and I had never really thought about how to create impact with business. For me when I was in college, it was all about code, zeroes and ones, I wanted to create a product and it could be anything, whatever. But when I saw how Gojek actually made an impact in Indonesia, I was so inspired, and honestly it really changed my perspective in my career about what kind of products I wanted to make, but also what kind of person I want to be. I didn’t want to… maybe if I was asked to work in a company that creates something super impactful but with much less money than something really bad but I get a million dollars, I would choose the one with the most impact, because Gojek basically taught me impact first. How does it feel to be an engineer working on a product like that, it doesn’t only change the lives of the driver but it changes my life too. I know it sounds so corny but the Nadine Siregar in 2016 and now are totally different because Gojek taught me how to help people in more creative ways.
K: Talking about impact, you spent three years in Gojek as a product engineer. Which teams were you at?
N: A lot. I started in Food, then Transport, GoMed, and I moved to Platform which is like the team that handles everything that’s not a product like home screen. And then GoShop. I also worked as a backend engineer for like three months, wanted to try it for fun but I didn’t like it so I went back to iOS. But that’s what’s great about Gojek, if I ever got bored working on a product, I could move to another product, they really do take care of engineers and make sure we’re not just happy but also continuously learning too.
K: What are the responsibilities of a product engineer?
N: I worked with the product designers, product managers and other engineers to build the product. For example product designer already had the flow and design, then I would create the features, and if there was a bug, I have to fix that too, and we had a few workshops where we learned from other engineers, and we had to travel because when I was there we had three engineering offices in three countries, so we had to travel around depending on where our team members are. I got to travel a lot which is nice. Basically creating features, fixing bugs, and learning.
K: As a product engineer, you have worked on various features and worked in many teams. Do you still remember the biggest achievement as a product engineer that you have?
N: There are so many, like what I and Galuh have mentioned, I’m proudest of the ones that have a lot of impact. Maybe not an achievement, but a really cool thing that I got to do when I was in Gojek, I joined WWDC which is an annual conference from Apple for iOS engineers. I attended WWDC 2018 and I could try new Apple features, I got beta versions of some cool features that were coming out that year, they also had workshops so I went to those workshops to learh how to integrate some Apple features to Gojek and I created some features for fun. Not really an achievement, because it’s by luck right, I think it’s just a really cool thing that I never thought I’d be able to do, I never thought I could go to WWDC but because of Gojek, I did. So that was really cool.
K: You have a foundation called YGMB right, which is also the foundation for Generation Girl and other programs. Can you explain what YGMB is and what are its programs?
N: I know Yayasan Generasi Maju Berkarya is quite lengthy so to shorten it we call it YGMB, it’s easier, less syllables that you need to say. But YGMB is a foundation where we have a couple of programs, first Generation Girl, which is what started it, I will share more about that later. After Generation Girl, we also looked at problems or improvements that we can create in the education space in Indonesia. That’s why we expanded from Generation Girl to YGMB, because we didn’t only want to solve one problem, but we also want to create impact in education, which focuses in IT education in Indonesia. We have a couple of programs, one of which is Generation Girl, but we also have Pengajar Belajar. In Pengajar Belajar we taught IT teachers industry-standard skills basically. So there are a lot of IT teachers, they may have taught for many years but what they teach are not always connected with what industries currently use. So we want to create a program that helps them with idnustry-level skills. Other than Generation Girl we do have a couple of other programs, but Generation Girl is where it all started.
G: Talking about the beginning of Generation Girl, what made you think that we really need Generation Girl now?
N: That’s a good question, because actually there was no singular moment where I was like, Indonesia needs Generation Girl now. There were many personal experiences in my life that pushed me to make Generation Girl, I never thought Indonesia needs Generation Girl, I just thought I need Generation Girl. Because for me it was a really personal cause, being a female engineer, and I didn’t really see a lot of local role models in this field. It’s really cool to see the impact that Generation Girl has now, but honestly I never thought Generation Girl would be this big. I didn’t see many female leaders, and I always felt very singled out because I was a female engineer. If I was in a conference or out there somewhere, if people know that I’m an engineer, they never say like, say I’m speaking at a conference, they never say I’m an engineer, they always say I’m a female engineer. Why does my gender matter? When there are male engineers, they don’t say that this guy is a male engineer, they just say he’s an engineer. But yeah I was always confused about why I was always singled out because I’m female. So yeah this is just a hypothesis but I think if we have more female leaders in the field, and being a female engineer seems to be normal, maybe it can help the situation, that women are not singled out as female engineers, but just as engineers. So the purpose of Generation Girl is to have more female leaders in male-dominated fields and the goal is to make it more normal to see more leaders in these fields. And I hope it will help the situation. This is just my hypothesis but these are all very personal experiences for me, that’s why I never think that Indonesia needs Generation Girl, it’s always just been like how to help future generations of female leaders with the support that I don’t have until now.
G: If I can summarize, this is more like something you wish you had when you were young, isn’t it?
N: Yeah! I feel like I would be so much further in my life if I had been exposed to CS early on in my life. I only got introduced to CS when I was in college, and universities are already pretty “set” in Indonesia, like we had to choose social sciences and natural science already when we were 14-15 years old. And for universities, there are many universities in Indonesia that do not have foundational arts right, they directly choose their major. That’s why we targeted junior high - high school students, before they got to choose what field they want to focus on. I think for 20s and above, it’s too late to help them choose their path in life. There are many girls whose friends registered for the program, so they tagged along, or maybe their parents forced them too, and in the first or second week they were like “can I extend?” not by accident but maybe not as excited to join, but after they joined they feel the community and see girls who do cool things too and they get inspired. My favorite moments are the girls who think that this isn’t for them or that they don’t have the skills to create something, then they create something and they have that aha moment, that’s my favorite moment.
G: Community and role models are really important, I think so too.
K: Do you have role models in the tech industry?
N: Yes I have a lot, so one of my advisors, Crystal, was in Gojek right. She’s one of my really good friends, but also an incredible role model to have, because she’s one of those who are successful in the field but are also quite local so I really relate to her in that way. And everyone else in our team in Generation Girl, I think they have their own strengths in their own ways. For example Tania Soerianto who is one of the cofounders of YGMB, she’s our CPO, she’s one of my heroes as well. She’s still quite young but she’s done so much in life as well. I like people who think differently from me, so I don’t really like it when I say something and people are like “oh yeah”, they actually me and make me think in a differnet way. If I can work with such people, I’d be so inspired by them.
K: I agree. About the Pengajar Belajar program, what is the initial motivation for the progam?
N: PB is our program to upskill IT teachers in SMA and SMK right, after I resigned from Gojek and I decided to work on YGMB full-time, we already had a few programs runnign in Generation Girl, and they were running quite well, and I was thinking what is the impact we’re making and how to create a bigger impact than the one we’re working on now? I talked to a few people and they said that if we want to create impact, although we’re in the education field, we also have to go to the formal education sector, SMP, SMA/SMK, the formal school system basically. I didn’t go to school in Jakarta or Indonesia right, I really wanted to make sure we get it right, I don’t want us to only launch program that we think may help but they don’t create any impact at all. To me, it’s heartbreaking when you put in so much work and there is no impact that you actually create. When we decided to go into the formal education system, going full-time in YGMB and tried to create impact in the formal education sector in Indonesia, we chatted with many stakeholders. We did like four months of research before we figured out a program. We already have an idea, we want to focus in IT but then that’s it. We talked to so many people. We talked to teachers, students, parents, people who own schools, headmasters, so many people not only in Jakarta but I also went to Jogja, my team went to Solo, Surabaya, we went everywhere basically to really understand, we want to understand the problems of education in Indonesia and how we can solve that problem. One of the biggest problems is that what the school is teaching does not always align with the industries. That’s why we created Pengajar Belajar—it’s a different band from GG so we have to create another branding—where we help teachers in the IT field to create a curriculum that is close to what’s needed in the industry. The next steps would be, if this is successful, we want to create a scheme for students that will help them search for industry experience. The goal of Generation Girl and YGMB as a whole and Pengajar Belajar are the same actually, we want to advance Indonesia’s IT field, STEM field but with different paths.
G: I see, because we already have the teachers, we may need some development but we do already have the teachers that can teach, and without these teachers, we cannot scale, right.
N: Right. We’re gearing up for our bigger program in July and August, right, it was supposed to be in June but because of COVID we have to postpone, so it’s going to be in August. But we already have weekly weekend workshops to help them transition from offline class to online class. They actually already have the… not just they have the skills, but they are very passionate to learn something new. Every Saturday, Sunday 9 AM - 11 AM they participate in our workshops to learn new skills and new tools that they can use. We do a bunch of workshops with different resources that they can use during this pandemic. It’s really inspiring to see them very passionate about learning, that’s why we created this curriculum and we really worked hard to create this curriculum, because we already see how passionate the teachers are, and because they are so passionate, we become passionate too.
K: Is the target for the program only for SMA (high school) students or more focused to SMK (vocational high school students) which directly go to the industry after school?
N: We focus on both SMA and SMK because we see a lot of similarities in both curricula, but hopefully the impact to SMK is more because you’re right, they directly go to the industry right, so the next step is, this is our first year right, we want to make sure that their foundational skills are already good. I don’t want to create a path to the industry when the students are not yet ready. We want to take one step back first to make sure that what we teach the teachers are already suitable, and if so, then we will try to find the paths to the industry.
G: Since the focus is industry, I think the industries change quite rapidly right, how do you make sure that what’s being taught at Pengajar Belajar stays relevant?
N: That’s a great question. We don’t only focus in one language/tool/resource, we focus on the foundational skills. This is something that we also have in Generation Girl, all of our programs. We want to teach 5 foundational skills that we think are important or required to be a future leader: problem solving, critical thinking, building up their confidence, building up their compassion, and communication. In all of our programs we always have these aspects, because if they are teachers or students, technically they’re both future leaders right, or they are already leaders, and these skills we think are most important to be a leader.
K: Speaking about impact again, do you have any interesting stories from the alumna of Generation Girl and Pengajar Belajar because of the impact of these programs?
N: I think I’ve mentioned this before but there were some kids who initially didn’t really want to join our program, but they were told to or forced by their parents, and within a week or two weeks they become so excited and want to extend. For me it’s a success story because it means we showed someone something that they thought they couldn’t do, they could actually do it. I think that’s the most successful one sih. Every week in Generation Girl or at least during our holiday club, where we teach various topics in IT, in STEM, these girls have to create a final project. We tell them they can make anything they want. We usually only give them a guideline, for example making a website. Of course they have to create a website for their final projects. But the website that they have to make, we don’t give them any guideline so they have to use their own creativity. And, oh my god, every week we know our expectations have to be very high, they can do very cool things, but they always exceed it, they’re so smart and honestly when I was in junior high or high school I wasn’t that smart. I really don’t think I was that smart, but these girls are just… it’s really crazy to see how much they can learn in such a short amount of time. They only have a week and most of them have never coded at all. And within a week they can create their own website or mobile app. To me that’s pretty crazy that they can do so much so quickly. So it’s like the aha moment they get when they do or build something that they thought they couldn’t do, to me that’s the most rewarding.
K: It must be priceless, this may not compare but when we got a tweet saying that after they join our workshop they can become a speaker, we’re so happy to hear that.
N: Yeah I still remember, the first one was Winter Club 2018, that was like our very first program ever right, it was just a week, and after that one week when all of the kids and parents exit the building, my team and I we just sat down and we just cried. We cried because it’s so crazy within a week we can create this huge impact. We really couldn’t imagine it. We put in so much work and so much effort and it was all worth it, and I still remember we just sat in that room dan everyone cried, it was really funny. I mean not funny, it was sad. It was very bittersweet.
G: Hearing your story, I wonder, what if every girl in Indonesia has the same supportive environment to develop their skills? Such supportive environment can make a huge impact. Because girls already have the creativity, the skills, the knowledge, they just need a platform and support system to be able to really excel, from my understanding.
N: That’s really true, and what’s really sad is that some kids who joined our program, they got confused when I told them that “you can do this”. it’s like they never have a support system before, like for example during Summer Club last year, there was this one class and somehow they were very quiet. I asked one of them, one of the mentors asked a question and nobody raised their hand. They didn’t want to answer because they were afraid. I sat down with one of the participants and asked, “I know you know the answer to this, why didn’t you raise your hand?” she said she’s afraid because she doesn’t want to be noisy, like she didn’t want to have her voice be heard. And it makes me really sad, I think that’s not uncommon. It’s actually very common in Indonesia where if you’re a woman, you have to be like this, you don’t need to be anything else, you’ll get married, become a mom, and you’re gonna have kids and that’s it. If that’s what you want, it’s great, but if you want to do other things, people don’t need to make them into something that they don’t want to be. It was just really sad, I agree with you so much, they actually already have the creativity, the skills, but what they’re lacking is the confidence and support system that will help them or push them to work on something incredible.
K: I can relate to that safe space. I think it’s not only women who need such safe space, but within the context of tech, there is already this stigma dan women’s place is not in tech, so we’re lacking the support there. So providing such a support system is very important. Speaking about Generation Girl again, I did some research, and I saw something interesting that one of your goals in 2020 is to move towards financial sustainability. I think this is something that many people are struggling with right, how how to create something impactful that is not just a one-off activity. I want to know more, how does Generation Girl accomplish this?
N: I love this question. I’ve never gotten asked this question before and I absolutely love it. When I started Generation Girl, I was working at Gojek. So I initially did this for fun, like hey let’s make this because we want to create impact. When I resigned from Gojek and went to YGMB full time, I realized I have no idea what I’m doing. My background is not business at all, and don’t be mistaken—a foundation is still a business. We still have profit losses, revenue streams, we have them all. But the difference is all the profits and revenues that we have must go back to our programs. But essentially it’s still a business. My background is computer science. I had never taken an econs, finance class… I felt lost, I have no idea what I’m doing, I don’t know how to create this business, that’s why I get a master’s degree although I’m already traumatized with school—I don’t like school but either way if I want to create this foundation and make an impact, I have to learn how to create or maintain a business. So what turned out to be a side project changed my life, for the better hopefully. I’m getting a degree in social entrepreneurship, and I’m learning about how to maintain a business with a balance in impact and financial sustainability. One of the 2020 goals, this was made pre-covid but maybe the timeline would look a little different now, but what we want to work on is that we do not want to depend on donors. For now all of our revenues 100% come from donors or sponsors, and we’re super grateful for them. We’re so thankful and so happy to be working with many companies who already believe in our impact. And we’re so proud of them. But, fundraising is really hard. Fundraising takes a lot of effort and it’s really important for us to find new sponsors and donors, but what I want to create is a revenue stream in our foundation where all of the revenues go back to our free programs, so that whenever something like covid or a pandemic like this happens, something else happens like this in the future, if one of our sponsors or donors cannot support us, we’ll still be okay. Something that I’m learning in school is to diversify your streams right, don’t always depend on one revenue stream. If your revenue stream is cut, you no longer have a business. So from what I learned at school, and from what my advisors advise, we want to diversify our revenue streams, where of course we still have donors since we cannot sustain everything that we do without sponsors, but we also want to have other revenue streams in case anything happens to our partnerships, we’re still operational. So our personal goal for 2020—again this was pre-covid so the timeline’s a bit different—by the end of 2021 we want to have at least 30% or 40% of our revenue from ourselves and not from donor. Sorry that was like super long, I was just really excited to talk about this.
G: This is something new to me, because all this time I thought a foundation only has to depend on donors, so I really learned a lot. Is there anything else that, before you went to school, you thought oh it must be A, but after you learn at school, it turns out you have to do B?
N: The main one is how to create a business, doesn’t matter a foundation or for profit, but the point is you have to be self-sustaining in some way, you need to have something that you can control for revenue stream. But what’s really interesting is, in my school, we also have many classes for ourselves as a leader in a social enterprise. So in this foundation, we do not only want to advance the foundation but also move to a social enterprise model, so there’s a balance between impact and financial sustainability. One of my favorite classes is The Altruistic Leader, so as a leader in a social enterprise, you can’t focus too much on the revenue, but you have to make sure that the impact that you create is measurable. So it’s a very personal class that we’re taking, because there is a lot of self-reflection, where I can say that oh what they have just taught me, I’m actually already like that, that’s one of my strong suits. But sometimes there are things that they taught me that I’m like, that’s true, I have to be more like that. Like people management, I’m really bad at. I’m such a pushover. I cannot be too hard. Actually if you want to teach someone you have to be patient, you cannot say what you want but you basically have to teach them the way to get to where you want them to be. Like a teacher, do not give the answers right away but guide them to the right answers. We’re doing that kind of stuff in our team internally. We started doing a lot of design thinking. Design thinking itu menurut kita sekarang salah satu most important tools, not just for us as a social enterprise or foundation, but also for our teachers, mentors, curriculum builders—we have to think as the beneficiary, as the kids, what will they be really interested in, what won’t they be interested in. For the teachers, how to create a program with the same impact, foundational skills, but different way of teaching. Because the way we teach teachers and kids is very different. So design thinking is also a really, really important one. Social impact without [inaudible] is also very difficult but we’re still thinking about it. There are many things that I learn about from this school. It’s just really hard to see it in theory in class and I have to think about how to take something from this class and apply it to our organization.
G: Generation Girl and YGMB are ongoing programs right, so you get to practice it right away, it’s not like you’re finishing your study first then create a foundation after that. You get to really apply them right away. It’s interesting.
N: Ya, it’s been really interesting. For example The Altruistic Leader that I said, because of the pandemic I cannot go to London right, so after the class—I work during the day and at night I have school. Every time I’m done with my class, whatever I was taught, I try to implement it to our organization right away. Design thinking, after we did a workshop on it in school, I did the same workshop in our organization. I think the biggest personal thing is I’m learning how to be a leader, because jumping from a product engineer position where I’m just a regular employee, not even a manager, to becoming a leader in my own foundation. It was a really big jump, and for me… what’s that millenial… impostor syndrome. I have major impostor syndrome, like from being no one in Gojek to becoming the leader of my own foundation, my impostor syndrome was huge. That’s what I’m learning a lot from this course as well. I now have the skills, have the foundations to become a better leader. Hopefully.
K: Amen. You mentioned that now you’re running the programs online. Is there any difference between running the program before and after the pandemic? What are the negatives and new opportunities that you see?
N: I always try to be more positive, so I think this pandemic is a terrible thing, but hopefully this is something positive for our organization, for YGMB and our programs. One of the coolest ones, if we’re doing it offline we’re only operating in Jakarta. Kids and teachers have to go to Jakarta or go to their own cities. But since we are doing it online, we can reach more people throughout Indonesia. And actually we had someone who joined us from Singapore too. Half of our programs are in Indonesia, the rest are in English, we had a girl from Singapore who joined our program, and some from Saudi Arabia who joined as well. Our reach is bigger because it’s online, being in Jakarta is no longer a prerequisite, as long as you have a laptop, you can join the programs. But the con, I think, or something that we haven’t figured out completely at all—I mean I haven’t been really satisfied—is how to create a community in an online program. Because it’s different, right, connecting to people through webcam compared to offline, it’s just a different way of connecting with people. I think it’s how we can improve is to create a community in online programs.
K: Any upcoming programs in the near future?
A: At least Q3, Q4, everything is online, all classes and programs. Not just for the participants, but we always have speakers and mentors from other places right, and we do not want to risk them or the participants. Right now everything is online, but all our programs are the same. Within a few weeks we will open Electives, it’s like a Summer Club, basically the same concept but for age 18 and above. So weekend classes with GoAcademy. It’s called Electives with GoAcademy, they will be teaching Ruby. It’s about the same course as the engineers in Gojek are getting, the goal is to diversify the engineering pool. This is for women only, but they will get the skills that Gojek engineers also get. Pengajar Belajar will be on August, so it’s an entire week for teachers of SMA and SMK. We’re also doing, always in our Instagram, a discussion like IG Live, and we also have Electives Lite which is like GoAcademy but for 2-3 hours, so if you do not want to commit to the entire Electives, you can join this one. In December we will have Winter Club. We have our hands quite full. We always have something we’re planning, but it’s good, it’s fun.
K: Good luck Nadine, it sounds like fun. If our friends want to join, can you share how they can join?
N: Go to our Instagram, generationgirl.id, we always have our Generation Girl programs there. And pengajarbelajar.id for teachers, programs for our teachers.
K: Cool. This is our last question actually, say that some of our friends ask, what can we do to reduce the gender gap in STEM. What are your suggestions?
N: Great question. I think if you’re a woman in this field already, or if you have interest in the STEM field in Indonesia, my advice is to find a support system. Doesn’t have to be Generation Girl, maybe your parents or friends who will support and push you forward. I think, we never go through life alone, right? We can never work on something by ourselves. So I think if we want to advance Indonesia, we have to do it together. If you’re a woman in this field, find your support system, find support that will help you. If you’re not a woman, you’re a man, and you still want to support women, this is what I think, women’s right is equal right. 50% of our population is women. If you want to support humans, you have to support women too, right. If you’re a dad, brother, male cousin, male colleague, you support your female colleagues, your sister, your cousins, whoever they are, not like pushing them to this field but more like showing them what they can do. Let them experience the world and let them choose for themselves. Actually in Generation Girl we do not want to push kids to STEM, we want to open all opportunities for them and give them skills to work on what they want. If you’re a male champion, listen to the problems and the stories of your female colleagues, your sisters, whoever, support them. If you already have daughters, raise very strong daughters, tell them to ask a lot of questions, encourage them to explore. That’s what I think. Be more supportive—this is for both women and men—just support one another, and just be more supportive. Be more loving.
K: In fact, most Kartini Teknologi listeners are male, so I think the message to all those males are really important. One more point that I really agree with, like you said, we do not want to force women to go to this field, we just want to show that there are opportunities for them here. We cannot force the standards that we believe in, so we’re just showing them that there are opportunities for them here. So, yeah, I think there are a lot of inspirations from this session, personally I learned a lot, I believe same with Galuh, so thank you so much Nadine for chatting with us.
N: Thank you!