Hubert Burda Media

Cover Story: Finna Huang

The self-confessed alpha woman is the second-generation leader of Sekar Group, a pioneer in seafood, aquaculture and agriculture products

“When I want something, I go for it,” says Finna Huang. “I’m not afraid to work hard. I will pursue a goal relentlessly and I don’t give up until I have achieved it. You could say that I am an ‘alpha woman’. 

“I have always been passionate about entrepreneurship and I’m a very business-oriented person. I am very much a perfectionist, which some people see as me being a demanding person, but in actual fact is more of a fierce determination to succeed. I like the people I work with to share the same drive and I constantly try to motivate and push my people beyond their limits and make them be the best they can. I feel that I’m empowering them to become a better version of themselves. At the same time, I believe in taking good care of my people and I reward them well for successes.”

Born in Surabaya in 1976, Finna went on to study in Singapore and United States, gaining a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at Babson College in Massachusetts, where she graduated with Magna Cum Laude honours. This show of excellence was demonstrated further when she then completed her MBA at Boston University, again with honours, at the age of 21. Finna says that she is the youngest graduate ever to complete BU’s MBA programme. 

Outfit: Biyan | Jewellery: Cartier

Finna is the eldest of the two daughters of Harry Susilo, founder of the Sekar Group and the Harry Susilo Institute for Ethics in the Global Economy. Sekar is primarily in the food business, particularly seafood, aquaculture and agriculture, though the group’s portfolio also extends to mining, property and tourism. Sekar through its subsidiary Pangan Lestari also has one of the most extensive logistic networks in Indonesia. Sekar’s Finna brand needs little introduction to most Indonesians. This iconic Indonesian brand is named after Finna herself. The Finna brand’s products include crackers, chips, seasoning, chili and tomato sauces, cooking sauces and traditional sambals.

“I feel it’s such a privilege to have a lot of our products named after me,” says Finna, “especially as they are known as pioneering and adventurous and set the industry benchmarking standards. I feel this represents both myself and my father, the company founder. “I admire my father for his discipline and perseverance. He set me the right example and I followed it. A determined, hardworking and charismatic individual, he has a lot of vision. He always looks forward and is never stuck dwelling on the past. Continually ahead of the curve and creative, he is the person I shaped myself after as an entrepreneur.”

Harry Susilo founded Sekar to support the family when his father suffered a stroke leaving him the sole breadwinner at a relatively young age. The eldest of 12 children, he sponsored the education and marriages of each of his siblings while growing the business from buying and selling small fish in Sidoarjo into a multinational conglomerate.

Outfit: Tory Burch | Jewellery: Cartier

In 2016, Sekar reached its milestone 50th year, an achievement widely recognised as exceptional by numerous global organisations. The group now has around 20,000 employees and through its work with fishermen and farmers’ cooperatives and incentives within the communities around its operational bases, Sekar has improved the livelihoods of an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people.

Finna is the President Commissioner of Sekar Bumi, the group’s frozen food division, whose brands include Bumifood, Mitraku and SKB. Finna explains, “With Sekar Bumi, we pioneered frozen shrimp and other seafood production in Indonesia. We now have a wide range of high quality products including fish ball and tofu, breaded shrimp, wonton, spring rolls and frogs’ legs. We hold FDA Green Ticket and BAP 2-star certification, allowing us to supply retail customers directly in the United States such as Wal-Mart and Sysco.”

Outfit: Dior | Jewellery & Watch: Cartier

Finna remains in buoyant mood over future prospects adding, “Sekar Bumi’s recent rights issue strengthens the company’s ambitions for greater integration
of the business providing a strong competitive edge. A key philosophy of the group has been ‘integration before expansion’, we control as much of the supply and distribution chain as possible to limit the risks of uncontrollable outside influences. We are well on track with this at SKB.”

While actively involved in the family business, Finna is an accomplished businesswoman in her own right. She is the founder of the highly successful Jakarta Women and Children’s Clinic in Kebayoran Baru. “I started the clinic from zero 12 years ago,” she says. “Nobody in the family came from a medical background, but I was not deterred. There was a market for high quality medical care for women and children and I was determined to fill the gap. It’s a very successful clinic and I’m proud of it. I believe it to be the best women and children’s clinic in Indonesia.

Outfit: Biyan | Jewellery: Cartier

Outfit: Louis Vuitton | Jewellery & Watch: Cartier | Shoes: Michael Kors Collection

“I founded it because I saw a need for better medical facilities in Indonesia. I can be very picky when it comes to providing medical care for my own children and I wanted the same standards I expect to be available to others. On the back of the success of the clinic, I have new hospitals in the pipeline that will continue to provide the standards of healthcare and service set by my clinic. With my uncompromising attitude to service standards, I expect to be the leading provider of quality healthcare in Indonesia.”

Away from work, Finna is passionate about sport. “It gives my life balance and a personal fulfillment,” she explains. “I try to race regularly. It sharpens my mind and competitive spirit. I’m proud that I have completed a number of marathons and have done quite well. You can learn a lot about yourself from sport. If you don’t put it the time and effort, you won’t get faster and you won’t complete the distance. It needs tremendous discipline and consistency. You need to push yourself and overcome your own mind so when it seems too hard or too painful you don’t give up, you still run. That’s when you become faster. That’s what gives you endurance. That’s what gives you success.”

Finna has a further reason for the love of sport, “It was through sport that I met my husband, Mark Clay. We have a lot in common and we’re both adventurous. We like to push each other’s limits. He is a multiple Ironman triathlete. I learned a lot from him about focus, discipline and unwavering determination. It is inspiring that he can still perform at world championship level at over 50 years old. For racing Ironman that’s a huge task in itself, but on top of that he maintains a heavy workload with the business and is an amazing father.”

Outfit: Lanvin | Jewellery & Watch: Cartier | Shoes: Michael Kors Collection

There are five children in the couple’s family, Owen Matthew Setiawan (17), Rachel Clay (15), Nolan Andrew Setiawan (14), Logan Peter Setiawan (10) and the latest addition Kallan Marie Huang-Clay (2). “Five kids in five different schools makes for quite a logistical and planning challenge,” Finna laughs, in no way intimidated by the task. Education is a serious consideration in Finna’s family. “We have a strong history of promoting pedagogical causes. My father created the Harry Susilo School of Ethics in the Global Economy, a collaboration with Boston University which my husband has been instrumental in helping to see grow. “The idea that ethics in business is a purely Western concept is not a true reflection of the global economy. We want to show the world that Indonesia can set high standards of business practice and that Asia has a voice when it comes to best business practice globally. We have created a network of universities that share research and endeavour to teach business students that there are profits and longevity in ethical business practices. We recently welcomed the addition of the very prestigious Tsinghua University in Beijing to our network.”

With so much on her hands, Finna is perhaps the true embodiment of a superwoman. What is her definition of success? “I believe that success is when we can live a happy and healthy life,” she replies. “A lot of people struggle to be happy even though they have money. It’s not money that guarantees happiness. If you can live a happy life, that’s being very successful. 

“I believe that we must always seek to improve and better ourselves, our environment and the lives of others. Never fear making a mistake. Overcome fear and move forward. There of course can always be setbacks along the way but the key is to learn from them and move on with greater knowledge. Maintain the determination and willpower and take up the mantle to be a key lead in society’s evolution.”

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Photography: Mario Ardi

Fashion direction: Peter Zewet

Styling: Koko Namara

Hair: Linda Kusumadewi

Makeup: Sissy