Linus was born and lived in Sweden for 10 years until 1998, when his Indonesian-Swedish family relocated to Jakarta shortly before the fall of Suharto. After eight years at school in the city, he spent four years at university in the UK, picking up a Bachelor of Science in Geology at the University of Liverpool followed by a Masters in Hydrogeology at the University of Birmingham, before returning to Indonesia in 2010 to work with Leighton Contractors at a coal mine in South Kalimantan.
Share a little with us about your job?
I work with MWH Global, an international ‘wet infrastructure’ firm which specialises in projects related to water resources projects around the world. Since April, 2012, I’ve been based in Perth, working as a hydrogeologist consulting on groundwater for mining, oil and gas clients in the Pilbara region. I spend a lot of my time at mine sites, directly working with clients on water management issues from boreholes for water supply, to the projects’ impact on groundwater.
Before then, I worked with Leighton Contractors at a coal mine in Kalimantan from 2010-11, where I was a Water Resources Engineer in charge of on-site water management issues.
While I was working with Leighton Contractors, I was contacted by MWH’s Singaporean HR department. I began working with them in their Singapore office, on environmental projects for clients throughout southeast Asia, such as the impacts of Singapore’s underground rail system. I was transferred to Perth to engage in a more technical role. After building my own experience a little further, ultimately, I’d like to return to Indonesia to make a positive contribution to the country.
What did you enjoy the most (and least) about living in Indonesia?
I really enjoyed the friendliness of the people I worked with during my time there – everyone had a really positive outlook, and I think it definitely rubbed off on me. From my perspective, my least favourite aspect of life in Indonesia was the politics involved in dealing with the local government – and Jakarta’s traffic and torrential rain!
Any practical advice for young people?
At the moment, it’s quite difficult for a young expatriate to find work in Indonesia due to its strict work visa requirements – unless you’re a teacher. My best advice would be to gain 3-5 years’ experience in a specialist role, since it’s likely to make your application more appealing to the government. That said, I managed to do it – in large part of it depends on your own ambition and contacts.
Expats who speak a little Indonesian, or who are willing to learn it on the job, earn a lot of respect from their Indonesian colleagues. It indicates that they’re not just there for the work, but also to learn and appreciate their culture. I found that the majority of Indonesians I worked with showed more respect to me than expats who did not make an effort to understand the culture and language.
Finally, your dream four-week itinerary?
Travelling across the Indonesian archipelago through Sumatra, on to Java, Bali and Lombok, and then Irian Jaya!