For Ivan Gondoprastowo, life is a balance between stress and strength.
He imagines it as a constant challenge, like the interplay between wind and trees: Trees are like the foundation we grow up with—the knowledge, experience, and people around you that help you to stay strong. The wind is obstacles and challenges, the things that provide resistance and force trees to grow. Wind can help make the tree stronger, but too much wind can knock it over–especially if it has grown too tall, without a strong enough foundation.
"Foundation is everything," Gondoprastowo's father taught him. It's a lesson he's taken to heart.
Born into a minority Chinese immigrant community in Indonesia, Gondoprastowo quickly learned the importance of both the wind and the foundation. Hard work and independence provided the wind, and his family and experiences provided the foundation.
Hard work brought him into the world, taking him to Hong Kong, where he is often the youngest person in the room, surrounded by much more experienced software engineers. And family—both the one he was born with and the one he's building around himself—gives him the foundation that he takes with him into every meeting and every project he works on.
What does success look like you?
Having no regrets, that's success for me. I don't know if that is humanly possible, but that's my goal – to have no regrets personally or professionally, which means I have to find balance in life. As someone who is early in their career, this can seem intimidating, but I feel I'm on the right track.
As a computer scientist, I love building new things and being part of a team that is helping to shape financial markets. So professional success for me is also collaborative and involves being able to work with other people dedicated to solving formidable challenges.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life?
My dad. Growing up I heard stories about his life as a minority Chinese person in Indonesia, and how he moved to the city and prioritized the value of education for himself and our family. My dad taught me that business—like life—goes up and down, and that challenges and difficulties are part of being human.
Perseverance is important; so is knowledge. My dad persevered to provide our family a safe and secure home environment that prioritized education. He was always proud and never relied on others, despite having friends and family who were willing to help him. He taught me the importance of being independent, but also the importance of being part of something bigger than yourself.
What is the biggest obstacle you've overcome in life
My biggest obstacle was the stress I went through at the beginning of my career. I experienced some levels of stress when at school, but back then I was always around the same people with whom I shared much in common. When I started my career, though, I was suddenly working with people who were at least ten years older than me. I placed a lot of pressure on myself not to make mistakes and do everything perfectly. The stress was incredible.
I reached out to the human resources department at my work to ask for advice on ways to navigate my stress. They encouraged me to own—and share—my mistakes, because everyone, at every level, makes mistakes. After all, we're all human. Not hiding mistakes is critical to professional growth—not to mention my own long-term health and productivity.
Once I internalized this attitude, I became more self-aware about my growth and the growth of others, too. It's amazing how opening up to others empowers everyone, and brings you closer together as a collective unit.
What do you consider the most valuable piece of advice you've ever received and where did it come from?
The most valuable piece of advice I ever heard came from my dad. He said, “The taller the trees are, the easier it is for them to fall when a strong wind blows." I can't get that image out of my head, because it applies to so many different situations on so many different levels. But I know he was talking about family as being the most important foundation. It's something every kid should hear from their dad.
Work-from-home, go to the office or a mix of both?
I appreciate the benefits of working from home, such as not having to commute and having more hours to be productive. And I like the idea of having a quick lunch in my kitchen. But I prefer working in the office where I can troubleshoot technical problems and have casual conversations with coworkers that sometimes actually lead to spontaneous breakthroughs on projects we're working on.
Those types of discussions don't typically arise when we're communicating digitally. So I prefer to be in the office with my colleagues and friends. We're a tight group.