People Innovation Excellence

Karen Steffi Halim: Equal through Hard Work, Smart Work, and Modesty

To commemorate Kartini Day, Binus Business School (BBS), make some students and alumnae’s profiles who share Kartini’s spirit through their life and their way to become successful in professional world. Hopefully, these profiles can inspire and motivates women to achieve their dreams.

Karen Steffi Halim’s career as professional woman has skyrocketed since the beginning. Even though she is still 23 years old, she already serves as Country Operations Manager Bvlgari Indonesia, a well-known fashion brand. For her, women are as precious as men. She thinks women can achieve their dreams and have successful professional career, even surpassing men.

Karen started her career in 2009 by working as Junior Art Director for one of the biggest advertisement companies in Singapore. She started off positively as she successfully initiated, developed, and organized an event called Spike Asia 2009 Project in Singapore as the youngest Assistant Project Manager. At 21 years old, she was recruited by Bvlgari Indonesia as Store Manager. Not long after that, she was promoted to Country Operations Manager Bvlgari Indonesia. As Bvlgari leader in Indonesia, Karen is responsible of Bvlgari exponential sales growth, including the revenue and profit. She is also responsible for turning Bvlgari into the leading brand of glamorous jewelry and luxury watches in Indonesia. Under her leadership, Bvlgari Indonesia was acknowledged as the best Bvlgari team for customer service in Asia Pacific for the last four years.

With her success, Karen has overcome gender-based stereotypes – women, especially with such young age, are less-experienced and cannot act as leaders. These stigma can seriously hinder women at workplace as it misrepresents the true talent of women leaders. There is a common belief in Indonesia that women are not meant to be successful in everything. Women have to choose between work and family, they cannot be successful at both. This choice is a disadvantage for women as they already have heavier burden than men, which are to give birth, raising kids and being support system for husbands.


“So it’s easier for men to come up with excuses if they neglecting their family and hotly pursuing their work aspiration and be excused by the society rather than the other way around like in some extreme cases, a woman even go as far as not wanting to start a family due to progress in her career because she assumes that she can’t have it all and life’s a matter of choice,” said Karen, who highly regards hard work, smart work, and humbleness in workplace.

She argues that women don’t necessarily have to choose between work and family. She said that women can achieve success in every area in life after determining its definition and parameter. “How far would you pursue your work aspiration until you reached point that you call yourself ‘success’, and same goes for family life, how far you want to be involved in bringing up your kids, taking care of your husband, etc. Some people regards a very rich business woman as being ‘successful’ in life because she has her career, she got a lot of money, her kids go to the most elite school in town, and her husband is still coming home every night. But take the administration girl in my office. She always attend her children’s parents meeting in school, attending her husband needs, loving him and the kids while still making money for herself (from her ‘small time’ job), isn’t she successful too? So, it’s a matter of perception after all, and how you measure success anyway? I always say that one person’s view of success maybe other’s view of failure, so as long as we can have a balance life, be realistic and not pursuing only one aspect in our life, I don’t see why we (women) couldn’t have it all,” said Karen.

In building her career, she didn’t consider any of her male and female co-workers as competitors since she believed that everyone has their own uniqueness, strength, and weaknesses. On top of that, she considers herself as her main rival. She uses her past experience to reflect and motivates herself to do even better than in the past. She also claims the obstacles within career will only motivate her. “It’s a fun cycle that pushes me forward and to find how much I changed from where I started and where I am now, it’s a real rewarding rather than keep comparing or compete with other people. My best line is: Be the best of version of yourself and you’ll come out a winner,” said Karen.

In her opinion, professional women have to do what they love and try to love whatever they do to improve their talent and skills. “It’s very important to put your interest, your passion in your work. Don’t be stuck in a job you don’t like or have no interest whatsoever, rather than pursuing ‘career’, pursue work that make you happy. Money and fame is only last for so long, but happiness and contentment in doing what we truly want to do will last forever,” she added.

In the future, Karen wants to become an instructor. She is considering opening a class where she can discusses things with younger generation so they can be more productive and understand the meaning of life. On top of that, her biggest dream is to write and publish her own book. “I want to share as much as possible to people out there, I really want to encourage people out there to break their limits and fulfilling their passion and teach them how. So I want to start by doing sort of seminary or short session of character buildings with local and educational institution,” said Karen.

Karen also feels that her biggest achievement is seeing her co-workers and subordinates do meaningful works based on her advices and motivation. She said, “I love to build people up, to groom them to become their best self. It is really encouraging for me to see most of my subordinates who initially start from nothing now can buy their own house, has happy family, productive in work and loves their job. The sense of fulfillment and satisfaction for me is priceless and can’t be valued by any means of money.”

To commemorate Kartini Day, Karen emphasizes that women are God’s special creature who are equal with men. “It’s a reminder for us, Women, that we are the precious kind and not a lesser kind of human being. In fact, it is men who started his life in the womb of a woman,” she concluded.

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