Utami Prasetiawati: An Innovative Business Leader Simplifying Logistics Using Technology

Utami Prasetiawat

Utami Prasetiawati, CEO of PT Transcon Indonesia (TCI) & Co-Founder of Prahu-hub

Changing the mindset of decades-old industries like logistics is never easy. The logistics industry has been notoriously resistant to change with its established practices and procedures that have been in place for decades. With price always being a driving force and less value given to the service, logistics is always seen as a complicated cost canter to be delegated to employees to cater to. But challenging these long-held beliefs, a new breed of entrepreneurs is stepping up to the plate, relentlessly pushing the boundaries of what’s possible, breaking down barriers, and creating new opportunities for growth and innovation in the industry. With an innovative spirit, a strong sense of vision, foresight, and a passion for change, these trailblazers are disrupting the industry and transforming it in ways that were previously unimaginable. One such influential leader who is redefining the world of logistics with her ingenious approach and helping businesses reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, and gain a competitive advantage is Utami Prasetiawati, the CEO of PT Transcon Indonesia (TCI) and Co-Founder of Prahu-hub. An influential figure in Indonesia’s logistics landscape, Utami is currently serving as Chairman of Bonded Logistics Center Assocaiation, and has managed to graduate from AMP program at MIT Sloan in 2022.

The Beginning of an Illustrious Journey

Prior to establishing TCI, Utami garnered crucial experience in the industry by working as an administrative assistant at her father’s Surabaya container depot business. Soon, she secured the niche of an admired leader by advancing up the corporate ladder and acing multiple roles and responsibilities as operation manager, marketing manager, and finally managing director of the company. These experiences helped her gain valuable insight into the industry and propelled her to start her own venture. As a result, Utami launched TCI in Jakarta in 2007 with money borrowed from her father and today successfully spearheading the company towards growth and prominence. Having been in various roles and businesses in the logistics industry for the past 20 years, Utami has proven herself time and again as an ingenious force to be reckoned with within the industry.

Sailing against the Tides

Being an entrepreneur often comes with challenges and obstacles, and Utami’s journey is no different. Since she was also the MD of her family business, Utami first treated TCI more like a side venture. She put her trust in someone else to handle the company and ended up losing money. In 2013, she faced a significant legal challenge, took out loans to buy the land, and started personally managing the firm in 2015. At that time, she found that TCI has no proper business model, company culture, or even proper system in place. So, she had to start almost from scratch to find a new business model. But despite all these odds, she kept going and successfully navigated through the situation to emerge victoriously. “Logistics is an old industry with a very wide spectrum. Unlike those in consumer goods last mile delivery where transparency is already a norm, those in the raw material supply chain were less transparent and hence, can be optimized. We chose to focus on that,” Utami propounds.

The new government at that time was emphasizing on lowering logistics costs as well as developing infrastructure outside Java Island in a massive manner. One facility initiated by the government to lower logistics costs was Bonded Logistics Center (PLB), and TCI was one of the early adopters in 2017. With the government trying to increase Indonesian growth by building huge infrastructure outside Java Island, Utami believes that Java to interisland connectivity will rapidly increase too. Thus, in 2019, she cofounded Prahu-hub, focusing on optimized interisland connectivity. Prahu-hub is a digital logistics platform that makes it easier for everyone to deliver goods by land and sea which is easy, safe, and cost-effective.

Delivering Value Added Logistics Services To Customers

While working in the industry, Utami witnessed that many companies, in particular manufacturers and distribution companies often overlook the power of logistics analytics to help push their company’s growth forward. But, she strongly believes that logistics analytics can help companies see their logistics expense not as a mere expense, but also as its logistics team’s real performance, and logistics cost, and even assist its’ marketing strategy forward. “We believe that logistics should be seen as part of a strategy, so business owners should understand how and why his/her logistics cost is high and how to lower it and make it part of the winning strategy. And that is exactly our vision—to simplify logistics, by using technology,” affirms Utami.

As a company that has the competence and added value in the field of logistics, TCI is committed to providing customers with simpler, more efficient, and transparent operations. It has knowledge of customs policy, sophisticated IT capabilities, and strategic partnership facilities to serve all logistics needs in a cost-efficient manner. It also delivers and implements flexible, efficient, and integrated information solutions with IT features like online activity requests, activity documentation, document progress management, real-time IT inventory, 24×7 online CCTV, booking system, warehouse management system, and tracking system to connect all aspects of a supply chain and help its clients gain competitive advantage and exceed customer expectations.

Cornerstones of Success

Every successful company is built on a set of core tenets that differentiate them from the rest of its market competitors. For TCI, its legacy of excellence is grounded in its unwavering commitment to teamwork, Continuous Improvement, and innovation. The pioneering company is committed to continuously improving the quality of its people, processes, and technology to provide lean and efficient logistics solutions. Keeping these values at the core, it aspires to not just be a vendor to its customers but serves more as its logistics arm. Thus, it sets its KPI together and monitors it together with them every month, just like a student report card. “We believe in performance transparency to learn from our partner which areas we both can improve. Another distinct side of TCI is learning. Everyone in our company, from top to bottom has to undergo continuous training every 3 months,” adds Utami.
According to the avid entrepreneur, true leadership is not about being the smartest people in the room, but more about organizing the team’s strengths into a powerful engine to bring value to customers.

Preparing for a Glorious Future

Under Utami’s expert guidance, TCI has conquered several feats of success and garnered several awards and accolades including the Best Bonded Logistics Center Company award in an event organized by DGCE for North Sumatra Region in 2022 and the BEST Bonded Logistics Center award at the 2019 MARUNDA CUSTOMS AWARD event. As a leader of the company, Utami plans on leading the venture to new feats of growth and success in the upcoming days, while simultaneously continuing to simplify logistics with its top-notch innovative solutions. “Entrepreneurs often see logistics as ‘complicated’ or ‘cost centered’. I hope I can help to change this and make all believe that logistics is actually part of product strategy,” opines Utami. Drawing key learning from her leadership journey, she asserts, “Business, as in life, is about mindset. If you see it as win or lose, life is a battlefield. But if we see it as a journey to bettering ourselves, we see it as an opportunity to learn or even unlearn, adapt, and create something better together.”

Making a mark in a male-dominating industry like logistics is like dodging a bullet. But, Utami has not only managed to excel as a leader in the world of logistics but has also been hailed as a true inspiration for budding women entrepreneurs who aspire to make it big in the business world.