Dimas Oky Nugroho

Dimas Oky Nugroho

Postgraduate Research Student

Postgraduate Research
Graduation Year: 2016

Indonesian Translation

Dimas Oky Nugroho finished his PhD from UNSW School of Humanities and Languages, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in early 2016. Dimas focused his PhD research on social movement and democracy in Indonesia. Dimas had many career experiences from television reporter, researcher for UN & government, community engagement, run for mayor election and lately founding a political consulting and become a Special Advisor in Executive Office of the President of the Republic of Indonesia.

1. We recognised that you’ve been through many phases on your professional journey. Which one of those you would say as the best thing or the most unique experience and why?

To me, each professional experience throughout my entire career is distinct and special in its own way. Altogether, they have helped me develop myself as a person and have been a part of my effort to give the best contribution to the community and the wider society.

I took my youth as the construction period in life in terms of the opportunity for study and when personal development thrives. It was the moment when your gate of doing a lot of positive actions opens wider. The choice is in our hands; what we do today will determine the course of our plans in the years to come. I began my career when I was studying in the University as a research assistant in an institution that promoted democracy and civil rights. From that initial experience, I learned that the respect for diversity and multiculturalism must be maintained and guaranteed both by the State and civil society. Democracy will be healthier if the aspect of civic education and respect for plurality goes well.

I had been a journalist for 4 years during Indonesia’s transition era of democracy. I was sent to conflict-prone regions in Indonesia and sadly witnessed the reality of such social-conflicts. The work of being a journalist was one that full of challenges and required certain skills and courage to acquire and deliver the truth to public. The job gave me the opportunity to travel to numerous regions of the country as well, to meet with many figures –from regular citizens, victims, rebellion group leader to CEOs, Ministries and President– and witnessed many existing problems within the society with my own eyes.

As a matter of fact, the underlying issue of most problems in Indonesia roots from inequality and social gap. Indonesia has the task of dealing with this issue especially in education, social-economy, and public service since there is where inequality in the deepest and social vulnerability is the highest.

It was what called me to work for humanitarian and social development programs in UNDP. I had worked for UNDP Indonesia for 3 years to manage the Post-Conflict and Reconciliations Program in Aceh. I really enjoyed as it enabled me to help bring benefit to broader people. Peace and political stability are keys in the struggle for socio-economic development. From the case in Aceh, I have seen that the conflict only hurt vulnerable people especially children. Their future was threatened. The program I was involved with had the task of ensuring that peace was institutionalised for sustainability and positively affected the social and economic sectors, as well as able to help the victims heal the wounds brought from the conflict.

Along with that, I have found the greatest pleasure of my work in teaching, as I am also a lecturer in a few universities. Through the classes I can transfer my knowledge and experience to my students; the young people. Many among them are future leaders. The work as a lecturer has brought me to several social entrepreneurship projects ranging from community engagement and empowerment, providing trainings to local communities, and doing advocacy for multiple issues especially in public participation and community leadership.

In 2011, with several partners I initiated a project of a short training on leadership and globalization to the young leaders in Indonesia. We collaborated with the government, private institutions, and civic society. The training has been running for five batches and has produced young leaders with democratic and future-oriented visions.

Departing from those activities, I founded a political and communication consultancy firm in 2012 and created a network of opinion leaders, community organizers, activists, and young scholars focusing on public issues. In carrying out my business projects, I am always looking to involve young people and the creative industry community to collaborate with. As for this moment, I am collaborating with those communities to create co-working spaces in several cities in Indonesia to ensure that the Indonesian youth could acquire the skills they need especially in entrepreneurship and the creative industry. They need to develop as the young people who respect diversity, are tolerant, and have progressive visions to independently tackle the existing current social inequality problems in society.

During the current administration of President Joko Widodo, I have been appointed to serve as a Special Advisor in the Office of the President. I have expectancy with this position I am trusted with, me and my colleagues can contribute better to the country’s development and able to inspire younger generation across the country.

2. Why did you decided to pursue your PhD in Australia? And why did you decided to choose UNSW?

I completed my Bachelor Degree in Political Science from Airlangga University, Surabaya – East Java, and my Master from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. The choice to continue my study to PhD in Australia is a sound one; I believe studying in Australia will result in certain advantages for me.

First, I need a support for my research in the forms of accessible scholarship, an accomplished team of scholars who will partner up with me in my research, a complete and sophisticated library, and the tranquility and concentration in doing my study. Australia is the best place that fits those criteria. My family is the second factor. Australia is a neighboring country to Indonesia – the closeness to my home country is a deciding factor for me. Australia also offers a wider range of possibilities for my family, especially for my children, which include the opportunity to learn in the Australian education system. Third is the post-study network. I feel that the Australian alumni network in Indonesia is great and able to help me developing my potentials especially in the sectors of education, research, and the creative industry which I aspire to cultivate.

UNSW is a great and modern campus with the facilities I need to achieve the three factors mentioned above. UNSW has an impeccable reputation for its teachers, research, and alumni network. I have met numbers of accomplished people from around the world whom I keep in touch with during my previous courses and studies in Kensington, Sydney, and in UNSW campus in ADFA, Canberra. For international students, UNSW provides easy access to multiple facilities especially in accommodating its students. As an Indonesian, we can easily find many restaurants serving Indonesian culinary in a wide variety that heals our longing for home, and for sure this fact will help me enjoy my study in Sydney.

3. What made you choose the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences and what did you enjoy the most about it? (or any other things like extracurricular activities)

I chose the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences as I found a team of supervisors who understand and support my research on social movement and democracy. Prior to this, I kept finding their work and researches in many sources and international journals. The approach I have selected is political anthropology and it is essential to have a supervisor with deep understanding of Indonesian politics.

I enjoyed the room and working space I had where I was writing my thesis every day in Kensington. During the spring, from the window I could see a calming view of Jacaranda flowers on the trees and that view was imprinted in my head. Another personal pleasure I got used to was getting a flat white coffee every morning across the library before I returned to my room in Morven Brown Building.

Another enjoyable thing I came across in UNSW, there are numbers of extracurricular activities and student festivals. These kinds of events are a solace in the middle of class schedules and research targets.

4. What impact do you think your time at UNSW Arts & Social Sciences has had on your career?

One thing that I have learned is the vast number of UNSW alumni in my home country and in other Southeast Asian nations which I have visited during my work trips. They are working for government organisations, private institutions, media, and many of them working in social entrepreneurship sector and creative industry. In the future, UNSW should be able to create a study program focusing on the creative industry and to build a hub or co-working space as it has boosted the economic growth in some countries as well as growing popularity.

The network of alumni and connection with the alma-mater has their own advantages for me. I hope to see UNSW grow further and assists more students in reaching their goals and aspirations in the future.