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Senior Vice President, Business Development
Para Group, Indonesia
Three days after earning his undergraduate degree in international relations at Stanford, Matt Sinder, MBA 99, was flying on a plane to the Philippines to start a new job -- even though the extent of his previous travel outside the US was to France.
Since then, Sinder has carved out an entire career working in consulting in Southeast Asia, only interrupted by stateside stints to earn his Berkeley MBA and a masterís in public policy from Harvardís John F. Kennedy School of Government.
"I think that what drew me to developing countries in the first place was the idea of change and potential and that more of the story was unwritten," Sinder says.
Tackling everything from strategy to sales and marketing to operations, Sinder has worked for major international consulting firms like Booz Allen Hamilton and McKinsey & Company, as well as home-grown Indonesian corporations. At one point he was the sole foreign employee at an Indonesian consumer finance company with more than 10,000 employees. Heís managed projects from Korea to Singapore and Malaysia to Australia in such industries as banking, energy, and airlines.
"One of the things that I enjoy -- and itís definitely not always positive -- is just how dynamic the region is," Sinder says. "In Indonesia there are a lot of steps forward. Ö Sometimes they move backward a bit. At least thereís that level and that tension. Ö I find that very interesting."
Sinder moved to Indonesian-owned Para Group last year. The conglomerate's businesses range from Bank Mega (one of Indonesiaís 10 largest banks by asset size) to television stations to Indonesian ownership of fashion brands Prada and Jimmy Choo.
Sinder has three responsibilities at Para Group: working as part of a team of in-house consultants on strategy development and other issues; collaborating with the corporate finance team to identify new business opportunities; and providing operational support on matters selected by the chairman. One aspect of the work that Sinder really enjoys is building and mentoring a team of young Indonesian professionals.
Sinder didnít focus on international coursework at Haas. He found studying core business skills the most significant opportunity during his time away from Indonesia. He and his wife Tiffany, who is Indonesian, had their first son during his Berkeley MBA orientation. His second son came three years later, back in Jakarta.
Sinder has definitely seen some changes since he first began studying Southeast Asia in school. "Twenty years ago people werenít talking about China too much, certainly were not talking about India," he says. And not Indonesia. But now that heís living as a corporate executive in this island nation, his weekends even look a little like suburban America: "Soccer and baseball keep us pretty busy most of the year," he says.
Matt Sinder, MBA 99