Up close with Sukanto Tanoto

SMU’s Tanoto Foundation Scholars meet their sponsor for the first time.

SMU hosted about 50 MBA and EMBA students from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania as they commenced their five-day visit to Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia for their Global Modular Course on ‘Sustainable Growth in ASEAN’.

At the course’s opening session at University Lounge, RGE (Royal Golden Eagle) Founder and Chairman, Sukanto Tanoto, was invited to be the keynote speaker to share his perspectives and experience running a large group of resource-based manufacturing companies which include APRIL and Asian Agri in the region. With almost 50 years of successful entrepreneur experience under his belt, Mr Tanoto shared candidly about his journey as an entrepreneur and how he scaled and diversified his businesses.

Besides his achievements in the business world, Sukanto Tanoto is a known philanthropist. Tanoto Foundation is a non-profit organisation that focuses on poverty alleviation through Education, Empowerment and Enhancement. Tanoto Foundation scholars in SMU (Cindy Pratiwi from the School of Accountancy, and Joshua Jo and Jessica Chandra from the Lee Kong Chian School of Business) were invited to the event where they met their scholarship sponsor for the first time.

SMU's Tanoto Foundation scholars meet Mr Sukanto Tanoto

RGE Chairman Sukanto Tanoto with (from left) Senior Advisor to President, Singapore Management University (SMU) Prof Tan Chin Tiong, Cindy Pratiwi, SMU President Prof Arnoud De Meyer, Joshua Jo and Jessica Chandra.

Cindy Pratiwi Arsjad, Year 4 , SMU School of Accountancy

SMU Tanoto Foundation Scholar Cindy Pratiwi Arsjad with Mr Sukanto TanotoMy first encounter with Pak Sukanto in person was both humbling and eye-opening. He spoke passionately about RGE, its ups and downs throughout the years, and key takeaways that he has learned throughout these years. One inspiring story that he shared was the struggle he went through during the crisis and how in such a desperate period of time, his family acted as his pillar of support. Through the crisis, Pak Sukanto learned that diversification in a business is key in order to reduce the exposed risk of a company.

Pak Sukanto shows his great values through being a good leader who cares about his business, a generous philanthropist who cares about his society, and a responsible global citizen who cares about the planet. Pak Sukanto was also extremely humble and was not hesitant to mingle and share his experiences with other attendees of the events.

Joshua Jo, Year 3, SMU Lee Kong Chian School of Business


SMU Tanoto Foundation Scholar Joshua Jo with Mr Sukanto TanotoIt was my first time meeting Pak Sukanto in person and it was such an insightful encounter for me. Pak Sukanto and family were so humble and willing to share their experiences with us. People may look up to them but they never look down on anyone. For me, Pak Sukanto is a good living example of how to live a meaningful life; care about family and society.

As explained candidly by Pak Sukanto, learning does not stop when one ends university. Instead, it continues throughout one’s life. As the world is continuously changing, we have to keep our minds open and be receptive to new inputs. I personally believe that education is the most powerful tool you can use to change the world. In the future, I hope to be a successful man who can start his own Foundation, just like Tanoto Foundation, and do my part to improve society.

Furthermore, we were very fortunate to be able to interact with Wharton executive MBA students. The event offered us a rare learning opportunity and highlights the various learning platforms that Tanoto Foundation can offer to its scholars.

Videos of Sukanto Tanoto’s keynote speech are available here and here.