A young Indonesian female engineer and tech entrepreneur, Fransiska Hadiwidjana, shares her inspiring journey to pursue her passion and to encourage more women to enter the digital world.
Technology has always been her passion. Starting from electronic games when she was little, Fransiska Hadiwidjana, a 30-year-old engineer and tech entrepreneur, joined the science Olympics at junior high school. She became interested in computer programming at senior high school and majored in informatics engineering at one of the best Indonesian engineering universities, the Institute of Technology Bandung (ITB).
“I just fell in love with technology. With our logical and critical thinking, we can create fascinating products,” said Fransiska. She shared her inspiring business journey at the Technology talk show in mid-March, jointly held by the ILO and GRID Network, a leading Indonesian media group.
“Women are still insufficiently represented in ICT. All my mentors are men and out of 60 software engineers in my team, only 10 are women.”
Her passion has transformed Fransiska to become an inspiring woman figure in the emerging world of Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT). Her business journey started when she won a scholarship to Singularity University at NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley in 2012 and co-founded AugMI labs, an award-winning biomedical startup a year later.
In 2017, she became the founder and CEO of Prelo, an Indonesian-based mobile e-commerce marketplace focussing on using environmentally-friendly technology and community empowerment. The platform, allowing users to sell their second-hand items or rent them out, was acquired by Bukalapak, an e-commerce company, in 2018. In the same year, she was named one of ten inspirational female tech entrepreneurs in South East Asia by Forbes under its “30 under 30 Asia list”.
Today, she has been active in promoting ICT-related jobs to women. “Back in my university days, there were only 20 female students out of 100 software engineer students in my class. No wonder only a few women ended up pursuing a career in ICT,” she said.
Yet she admitted that, a decade later, the situation has not changed much. “Women are still insufficiently represented in ICT. All my mentors are men and out of 60 software engineers in my team, only 10 are women.”
To encourage more women to enter the ICT sector, she has co-founded and acts as the Chief Technology Officer of WomenWorks, a start-up that provides a mentoring program for women to fashion their dreams in the tech sector and achieves their career goals. “Our web platform enables women to meet other women to gain relevent information, access high-quality networks for investment, hire or be hired, and build an experience of sharing and support,” she explained.
“Our web platform enables women to meet other women to gain relevant information, access high-quality networks for investment, hire or be hired and build an experience of sharing and support.”
In addition to technical skills, she highlighted the importance of soft skills. Never stop learning was one of her top soft skills to keep up with the fast-changing digital world. “We need to continue learning. I am going to Stanford University Graduate School of Business in the USA this year to strengthen my business skills,” she added.
She also reminded the young participants about the vast opportunities offered by digitalization for everyone to embrace, regardless of their gender. “The career path is promising and rewarding, the compensation is above average. Why do you still hesitate? Just believe in yourself because if you do, no one can bring you down,” said Fransiska to close the session.
“We see more women involved in start-up companies as IT engineers or developers, and even fulfilling higher-level or top management positions.”
Tauvik Muhamad, ILO’s Technical Officer for Skills Development
The event was part of the ILO’s knowledge-sharing series on skills demands and job opportunities in the ICT sector jointly funded by the Government of Japan (Industry Skills for Inclusive Growth Phase-2 (InSIGHT-2) Project) and Fast Retailing Co., Ltd (the Unemployment Protection or UNIQLO Project ). The ILO has continued to support the development of digital talent in Indonesia, including women as a response to the increasing demands for these skills.
“Although ICT jobs are often perceived as men’s jobs, more women are harnessing the power of technology. We see more women involved in start-up companies as IT engineers or developers, and even fulfilling higher-level or top management positions. It proves that women have the potential to grab opportunities that digitalization offers,” said Tauvik Muhamad, ILO’s Technical Officer for Skills Development.