Robert Chong is an expert in food exports and trade, and is the winner of the Australia Indonesia Awards 2018 under the category of Food. He features this week in another AIYA Career Champion profile. (Catch up on previous Career Champion interviews here.)
Robert was born in Indonesia and was educated in Australia, studying accountancy and economics at University of Queensland, before marrying and moving to Sydney for work. In the 1960s he worked in a meat exporting company as Export Manager & Cost Accountant, before deciding to gain further experience in exporting by working in partnership with a meat broker, Jack Fruitman & Co, to source and export Australian frozen beef cuts and offal, veal and lamb to USA, UK and European markets. Finally in 1967, Robert and his brother John formed Commodore Trading Co.
What do you do?
Because I am an Indonesian born, educated in Australia, the products we specialise and sell are important for Indonesia.
We are still very active in dealing with Indonesia. We have to follow Indonesian government regulations and policy, along with being flexible and understanding.
Why do you think you have found success?
My current job is my life. I believe in what I am doing with full passion.
What do you enjoy the most about working in relation to Indonesia?
To be able to relate to the two cultures, I was born Indonesian but educated and worked in Australia.
Thoughts on the future of the Australian-Indonesian relationship in the food industry?
I think the future of the field in which I work is very much in need of Indonesia in the form of perishable goods, meat (beef, lamb, goat), dairy products and special kinds of fruit and vegetables, as well as wines for the hospitality market.
What advice would you offer youth?
Prepare to learn the culture and the way the two sides do business, and to be patient, understanding and tolerant.
Given the opportunity again, what would you do differently?
I would do nothing differently.