Discova Indonesia Country Manager, Ayu Kristiana

Discova Women in Leadership: Ayu Kristiana

June 2, 2023

Many who know Ayu Kristiana would agree that calling her a “tough cookie” would be apt. A tough cookie with a soft centre. Over her eight years at Discova in Bali, Indonesia, she has proven to be not only a well-respected, multi-talented, tenacious leader, but one who cares deeply about people, whether her family, colleagues or the communities we work with around Bali.

Ayu is next in our profile series on exemplary leaders in ‘Discova Women in Leadership’. Learn about her leadership story and values here.

Meet Ayu

What has your leadership journey with Discova been like? What has been the most challenging? 

“Overall, it has been wonderful. Even when the going gets tough, I see it as a learning experience. The most challenging part has always been people management. For me, using facts over feelings in driving the team is the key in making tough decisions on people.” 

Ayu (right) with Discova’s Managing Director, Suyin Lee, during a site visit at Kaura Bali, Manggis, East Bali.
What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far? 

“The opportunity to make an impact and change people’s lives. Having been part of Discova Indonesia for eight years now, directly involved in a few community projects, specifically the Manggis Organic Farming Initiative, has been spiritually rewarding. As well as the successes I’ve seen of our Team Leaders, who are mostly women. For me, it’s tangible proof of the importance of equality.” 

From the start, Ayu has been an invaluable part of Manggis Village’s community development story, right up to its culmination today, in our immersive village retreat, Kaura Bali.
What mentors (if any) have played a part in helping you get to where you are today?

“I have been fortunate in my career journey to know many leaders and mentors who have been incredibly influential in my life and hope to do the same for others.”

Ayu with Discova leadership team walking through the village in Manggis
Ayu (white hat and grey backpack) on a Manggis Village orientation walk with one of Discova’s tour guides (red backpack) and Discova leaders Eileen Yee, Suyin Lee, and Natalie Vine.

“And especially in Discova I am so lucky to meet these great leaders who played important parts in my professional development.  

Peter Christiansen [our Director of Operations], for his faith in giving me the opportunity to join the company in the first place. Understanding the local culture enables him to be both a good friend and a professional mentor. Eileen Yee, who challenges me and drives me to better understand obstacles and issues. She is a good mentor and leader because she truly listens.”

Ayu and Peter Christiansen with goats of Manggis
Ayu with Peter (second from right) during a “handover” ceremony of a small group of goats Discova helped to purchase and provide the village of Manggis with, in order to support their organic fertiliser supply.

“And in my personal life, I’m grateful of course for my husband, for his unconditional support and for teaching me how to use facts over feelings in solving issues or making decisions when it matters most.”

Why is influencing women in local communities important to you?

“Because women are important pillars of a strong family and community. In most parts of Indonesia, especially in Bali, their dedication very rarely receives the recognition it deserves. Positively influencing them through projects and skills enhancement is critical in raising their self-esteem and dignity, which are important steps toward achieving eventual equality with the men in their local communities.”

Discova's Indonesia Country Manager in Manggis, Bali
From the start Ayu has, quite literally, gotten hands-on with the community's organic farming projects in Manggis, Bali.
What does equality and diversity mean to you? 

“For me, equality means that everyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, or position, must receive equal respect and opportunity – both in their community and professional life. Equality must include, but not be limited to: equal access to education, equal pay for the same job, same opportunities to become leaders, and the ability to express his/her opinion within the company hierarchy.”  

Diversity in the workplace at Discova, Bali
Ayu (first from right) with members of her Bali office team during a lunch outing.

Diversity means that everyone is unique and each of us has different skills, strengths, and personalities. However, each of these unique individuals can play important roles in creating a colourful community and professional establishment.”


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