The word 'Srikandi' came from the fictional character from the epic story of Mahabharata. The original story from India described Srikandi as a man, but the Indonesian adaptation of the Mahabharata series described Srikandi as a powerful woman warrior. Srikandi Indonesia is an online forum dedicated to motivate and to empower the young Indonesian women. Every month, we interview an inspirational woman with the high achievements and awards who deserve the ‘Srikandi’ title. Bellow is our interview with the outstanding young lady, our first Srikandi, Safira Lazuardi Vijaya.
Hi Safira, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi everyone! The name is Safira Lazuardi Vijaya. Shortly, call me Safira. I graduated from Mechanical Engineering, Institut Teknologi Bandung. It is an engineering field which is highly dominated by men. Ratio of women in the job is only 6% worldwide (forbes.com). However, the situation does not deter me to pursue my study in this field. I truly believe that through this major I am given such a great opportunity to explore my biggest passion which is energy issues. In the next 15 years, I am projecting myself to be the CEO of prominent energy company in this country. To start my journey, I will be working as a field engineer in Oil and Gas Service Company. Wish me luck guys!
Although I am taking Engineering as my major, I have great interest and passion in international publics issues such as War, Terrorism, Gender Equality, Human Rights, and many more. I also enjoy playing basketball, travelling, debating, reading, and sipping a cup of latte in quiet coffee shop. Aside from becoming the super-busy-CEO later, I have a dream to be a barista in my future owned coffee shop.
Can you tell us about your achievements and awards?
My passions have always become my driving force to achieve numerous awards both academically and non-academically. Here are some of my achievements during my study in ITB:
1. SRIKANDI ITB 2014
2. Total Summer School Grantee 2014
3. The Most Outstanding Student of Faculty of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering 2013
4. 1st Runner Up of Integrated Petroleum Week Debate Competition 2013
5. 1st Runner Up of Kampoeng Bola ITB 2014
6. Grand Finalist West Java Region of Lomba Debat Aspirasi Untuk Negeri TVOne-BNI 2013
7. 2nd Runner Up of National Debating Championship 2012
8. 7th Best Speaker of National Debating Championship 2012
9. 1st Runner Up of Java Overland Varsity English Debating Championship 2011
10. Top 15 Best Speakers of Java Overland Varsity English Debating Championship 2011
11. Quarter Finalist of Indonesian Varsity English Debating Championship 2011
12. Quarter Finalist of Binus International Debating Championship 2011
13. 1st Winner of Paper Presentation The 13th Annual ALSA E-Challenge Fakultas Hukum UNPAD 2013
14. Best Delegate of UEFA Annual Assembly Indonesia Model United Nations in Universitas Indonesia 2013
15. Harvard National Model United Nations in Special Summit of Non-Discrimination 2012
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Do you actively involved in the organizational activities during college?
Learning process isn’t always attending formal educations in class,but also actively contributing in organizations. With such principle, I joined three organizations which are:
1. Student English Forum ITB
It is a platform for ITB Students to polish their debating skills. First time I joined the club, I only could deliver speech in less than a minute. My debate coach scolded me a lot. After one year of extreme and harsh training, my team and I managed to grab 1st Runner Up of Java Overland Varsity English Debating Championship. SEF ITB surely shapes me from the stutter speaker into an eloquent speaker.
Aside from competitions, I contributed as SEF ITB Internal Relation Director in 2011 and acted as Tournament Director in Indonesia biggest debating tournament, IVED ITB 2013.
2. Ganesha Model United Nations Club
I acted as Under-Secretary General of External Affairs in the club. My responsible was to conduct good communication among MUN Clubs all over Indonesia.
3. Himpunan Mahasiswa Mesin ITB
I really love talking to new people thus I was assigned in Public Relation Division during my first year in HMM ITB. Then, I took charge as Field Commander of Fresh Members Development in 2012 who’s responsible to design and execute regeneration program for HMM ITB. Finally, I was given a mandate to hold responsible as Head of Public Affairs in 2013.
Since public speaking is my passion, I pioneered HMM Presentation Class and became primary instructor in 2013. The program aims to habituate HMM members to conduct various types of presentations.
Can you share with us your tips and tricks to achieve success?
Three great recipes of mine to succeed:
1. “Confidence is the best girl’s make-up”
There’s nothing sexier and prettier than a girl who is confident and brave to chase her big dream. You need to be confident and believe in yourself to access your potential.A simple thing you need to habituate: I once studied Heat Transfer, the so called as “Deadly Course” of Mechanical Engineering ITB. Everyone was panicking. People studied day and night. They kept it mind that the chance of failing this course is 80%. THAT IS A HUGE CHANCE OF FAILURE. At that time, I did not deny that Heat Transfer was frigging difficult. Unlike other people, I said it thousand times to myself, “You’re going to pass it anyway.” How difficult it would be, how sleepy I was to stay awake to study Heat Transfer, how clueless I was when I started to solve the problems, I kept it in my mind, “Safira, everything under the sun is easy. This is easy bro, why on earth you made it too difficult? You’ve passed so many difficult courses before, why can’t you this time?”. It turned out I passed the course while half of the course members failed.
No, it wasn’t because I am a smart-ass. I asked my genius friend of mine to give me a private tutor anyway. The key? Your mood and skills are determined by your confidence at that time. That’s all.
“Women need to shift form thinking "I'm not ready to do that" to thinking "I want to do that- and I'll learn by doing it.”
― Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
2. “A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.”
I need one year of debating to finally reach final in JOVED UGM 2011. Countless debate, intense research, and self-training are my daily meals to sharpen my skills. I have cried because I thought that I’ve reached my limits. I was thinking thousand times to quit, but I didn’t. I won as Best Delegate in UEFA Annual Assembly IMUN 2013 after I was slaughtered in HNMUN 2012. I almost did not join IMUN 2013 because I fed up with MUN. I need one year to (at least) make a single point in basketball competition representing HMM ITB. Previously, HMM ITB could not even score a single point since it was established. I failed in Total Summer School 2013 selection, but I managed to become Total Summer School 2014 Grantees. I almost did not join TSS 2014, because I did not want to lose anymore.
After all those failures, after all the pain, after all the decision of “dude-I’m-going-to-quit”, I chose to keep striving.
Everyone sees me now as someone who always succeeds without failing. It’s totally wrong. Today’s Safira is forged through thousand failures and tears. Bitter experiences taught me not to be a quitter.
3. “If you are grateful, I will surely give you more and more.” (Ibrahim 14:7)
I despise people who keep complaining how miserable they are. Believe me, even I snatched a lot of awards, won competitions, actively participated in three organizations, have a lot of friends, If I am not grateful of what I achieved, I will not be happy as I am now. You may say I am the happiest person on earth despite my flaws. How can you be happy and enjoy your job if you keep complaining? So, stop complaining when you feel you are the stupidest person just because you cannot concentrate in study. You got plenty of friends to give you tutor. Stop complaining when you feel you are broke. Some of my friends went home in remote area to hoe someone’s farm to get money. Stop complaining when you are rejected by job hunters. Thousands of people are grateful to work as labor in industry to feed their family. We’ve got countless blessings from God, but we deny to be grateful. That’s a pity.
Who is your role model?
I really love Sherly Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. She is not a hardcore feminist that would yell “Women need to be equal with men.” Instead, she declared explicitly that “Women can’t have it all”.
“I have never met a woman, or man, who stated emphatically, "Yes, I have it all." Because no matter what any of us has—and how grateful we are for what we have—no one has it all.”
― Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
In a country where the role of women to be a mother is emphasized, I think Sherly Sandberg has given us a huge help. I surely have a dream to become CEO in energy company, but also I am waiting for a moment when I curved a huge smile on my face with my husband, seeing my children are more successful (and happier) than I am. Family and career surely will be difficult to handle and go hand in hand. Nevertheless, Sherly has taught me that it is not about ‘balancing’ family and career, but it is about creating boundary and priority. And that sometimes require us to put a break on our ambitions; anger our bosses by refusing to work in our children’s birthday, making clients furious by refusing to answer their calls when we are having a coffee conversation with our husbands. The key is to define our ambitions. Our dreams and expectations shall not be set by the stereotypes that hold us back.
We can each define ambition and progress for ourselves. The goal is to work toward a world where expectations are not set by the stereotypes that hold us back, but by our personal passion, talents and interests.
What is your definition of women empowerment?
For me, a great woman is the one who is passionate and confident of her dreams. If her passion is becoming F1 racer, go for it. If her passion is becoming President of Indonesia, strive for it. If her passion is becoming badminton athlete, work hard on it. If her passion is becoming businesswoman, study hard. If her passion is becoming a good housewife, enjoy it. If her passion is becoming professional engineer, nail it. Whatever her passion, she needs to be happy for it.
In the world where women could choose her passion freely without being subjected to any forces, that is my definition of Women Empowerment. Whatever her choices, as long as she chooses it rationally, she will find her path of success in her own definition. Rather than believing that “Women should excel more than men.”, I truly hold a principle of “Women are free to decide.”
What should women do in order to fulfill her dreams?
As I have mentioned previously, in order to chase your dream you need to know yourself. Discover what you really want and explore your potential. You can never chase your dream if you don’t know what to achieve. Most of women hold themselves back because they believe someone will come over to them and offer a help. Nope. You cannot expect someone to build your dreams. You are the only one who can help yourself.
Last but not least, I always love confident women. Confident women always look more beautiful. I believe all women are pretty. But, are all of them trust themselves? Confident and bold to say loudly their dreams? Passionate to strive for her dreams despite many stereotypes subjected to them? No. Not all women can be like that. Thus, if you are able to trust yourself, you are really one of precious women who many men will chase for you crazily. Like I said, nothing is sexier than a woman who is passionate and confident to fight for her dream ;)