July 3, 2023

A Leader Who Serves, and a Servant Who Leads
United Board Fellow Dr. Ricky’s undivided loyalty to Christianity and Petra Christian University


Dr. Ricky always has a lot on his plate.  As a professor of management and business at Petra Christian University (PCU), he shoulders a trifecta of responsibilities of teaching, research, and service, in addition to active consulting, talks and community service.

Ricky was the Dean of the then Faculty of Business and Economics (School of Management and Business since 2022) at PCU from 2018 to 2021.  During his deanery, he headed a team that successfully obtained international accreditation for their Management and Accounting Program from the ASEAN University Network-Quality Assurance (AUN-QA).  While being Dean, he also initiated the Digital Leadership Curriculum at PCU, a giant step that put PCU at the forefront of Indonesian higher education in the digital era.

A seed was sown

A devout Christian who is always reflecting on his role in God’s service, he is an ardent advocate of servant leadership and whole person education.  Ricky’s encounter with Christianity began in junior high school.  Though not Christians themselves, his parents recognized the value a Christian education could give their son and so sent him to a Christian school near their home.  He also attended Sunday School in a nearby church which deepened his knowledge of Christianity and the Bible.

“I had a very normal childhood,” said Ricky.  “I went to school and learned my lessons.   I went home and sometimes helped with the chores of my parents.  I did things with my friends which any ordinary schoolboy would do.”  Whether by accident or by design, from kindergarten through high school to university, all the schools he attended were within the Petra school system.  It is no exaggeration to say that Ricky is a Petra product, and an exemplary one at that.

Ricky formally accepted the Christian faith in 1990, and promised himself that he would devote his time and talent to a career revealed and guided by Jesus Christ.  He has since served only one master—Christ.

Always serving one master

After graduating from PCU with a bachelor’s degree in economics, he began teaching at his alma mater as a lecturer.  In the early 2000s, he obtained a master’s degree in real estate from the University of New South Wales in Australia.  He then returned to serve at PCU.  From 2012 to 2017, he took his young family to Birmingham in the UK and studied for a doctorate in education at the University of Birmingham.  Once completed, he returned to PCU to head its Faculty of Business and Economics.  All his life he has only worked for one master—PCU.

Ricky, however, sees his academic work more like a calling than a job.  His doctoral dissertation is titled “Servant Leadership in Higher Education”.  The concept of servant leadership runs through how he views and pursues his educational missions.  Servant leadership, as explained by Ricky, is a leadership approach that requires the leader, be him a teacher, a clergy or a social worker, to understand the needs of his followers, see things from their perspectives, respect their values, and serve them in a way that transforms them into good human beings.  The master-servant relationship should be based on equality rather than hierarchy and developed with empathy not commands and orders.

Ricky added, “Often a servant leader leads by example.  If I treat a student this way, I hope one day when the student has become a teacher herself she would treat her students the same way.”  There is a humanist inside this management scholar.

Meeting of mind and purpose

The concept of servant leadership as advocated by Ricky shares a lot in common with the idea of whole person education—to develop students not only intellectually but also spiritually and ethically—long promoted by the United Board in partnership with its network institutions in Asia including PCU.  In fact, PCU has been one of its closest partners in promoting whole person education and service learning in the region.

From January 2022, Ricky has been the Head of the Whole Person Education Curriculum at PCU.  It is a task force that deliberates on the contents and format of how to combine learning with faith so as to offer a holistic education to the students at PCU.  It is, needless to say, no easy task, as academic subjects are tangible and therefore teachable but spirituality or ethics is open to different interpretations and practical applications.  Ricky acknowledges the challenges but is at least pleased to see that awareness has been raised and discussions encouraged.

With an unwavering resolve to serve God and answer His calling for him in higher education, it is perhaps only a matter of time before Ricky found the United Board.  In 2018, he attended the whole person education academy in Manila, Philippines organized by the United Board and came to know its staff and various programs and initiatives.

From leader to fellow

Ricky became a United Board Fellow in 2019-20 to participate in the Harvard Institute of Higher Education.  As he recalled, “I was, like, wow, that’s really a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me.  I had visited Harvard University before, to present a paper at a conference, but nothing remotely close had happened to me there.”  Ricky was most impressed by the facilitators who were all very solid in their knowledge and effective in their approach to teaching.  He took home a lot from the facilitators which served him well as a Faculty Dean.

He recounted an almost epiphanic moment at the Harvard Institute.  He was assigned to the same team as the rector of PCU, Rector Djwantoro Hardjito, who’s also a participant in the program.  One day when they were visiting the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and taking photos on its campus, Rector Djwantoro almost laid himself down on the grass in order to take a picture of him from a low angle.  He was first shocked by the Rector’s prostrating himself before him and then saw that as a vivid example of servant leadership and that one’s stature is not measured by height.

Ricky still has a lot on his plate.  But his priorities have never been different—God, PCU.  They are also where his loyalty is due.