Driven By Integrity: Laying Economic Foundations, One Tile at a Time

Tandean Rustandy, ’07 (AXP-6), Distinguished Entrepreneurial Alumni Award

A natural entrepreneur, Tandean Rustandy has built one of the best-performing businesses in today’s Indonesian building materials market, while still staying true to his corporate mission and original intent of giving back to his native country and strengthening its economy.

Tandean Rustandy, ’07 (AXP-6) Distinguished Entrepreneurial Alumni Award

Image by Matthew Gilson

Born in a small Indonesian town, Rustandy has always believed in the potential of his native country. Although he earned his undergraduate degree abroad at the University of Colorado at Boulder, he returned to his homeland, upon graduation, to start a career in the timber industry. Five years later, after becoming increasingly frustrated with corporate practices that he strongly disagreed with, he was inspired to strike out on his own, and founded PT Arwana Citramulia TBK, a ceramics manufacturing and distribution business. 

Since entering the ceramics industry as a novice more than 18 years ago, he has relied on a vision for growth, a keen understanding of the marketplace, and a commitment to run Arwana with integrity to successfully build it into the business he leads today. 

Though his innate abilities and instincts helped him to grow Arwana initially, in 2005 he sought out a deeper financial education to broaden his business skill set. With his wife’s prompting, he earned his MBA from Chicago Booth’s Executive MBA Program Asia, and he credits the experience with helping him to make the kinds of data-driven decisions that have enabled him to expand his business even further. Between 2005 and 2010, Arwana’s net sales grew nearly 169 percent, from $36.2 million to $97.1 million. 

Today, Arwana is known for its quality products and affordable pricing, and for fostering an inviting business environment that encourages local labor employment and partnerships with small businesses. Rustandy remains committed to leveraging his success to contribute to the development of Indonesia through job creation, tax revenue contributed by his business, and corporate social responsibility initiatives to help build schools, hospitals, and roads, and through donations for military barrack expansions.

Highly lauded internationally, in 2002 Rustandy was named “Indonesia’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year” by Ernst & Young and recognized as one of the “Best CEOs” in 2009 by Business Review. His company has also earned recognition from Forbes in its “Best Under a Billion” list for the Asia Pacific Region, and as a “Best Market Driving Company” in 2010 by Indonesia’s Marketing Magazine. Rustandy’s vision and enduring commitment have secured Arwana as a leader in its industry, and earned him the 2011 Distinguished Entrepreneurial Alumni Award.—E.O., P.W.

Last Updated 1/5/12