Dressed elegantly in a maroon suit and paired with a cheery smile, Suzanna Suharju radiated warmth as she strode across the room. Nowhere is the intimidating aura that one usually expects from a chief executive officer, in fact, Suzanna, the Imagine CEO is quite the opposite.
She is pleasant and welcoming, always appreciative of those she meets. For Suzanna, a senior rank should not pose an obstacle to anyone in the organisation to voice out any concerns or uncertainties.
For her, listening to feedback is paramount and it is something that she values the most.
“I would usually tell people that they are more than welcome to speak to me. I work hard to ensure that people can have their say and come to me if they are unsure because creating a conducive, trusting working relationship is important,” shared Suzanna. Be it in crowds big or small, Suzanna makes sure everyone is heard.
“Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback… be prepared for the constructive one, but it is what makes the best feedback,” she continued.
Being a female CEO does come with its own challenges and she is not an exception. As the captain of a ship of over 100 office-based employees, the ceo holds a compelling principle – be empathetic.
“I have received feedback in the past about people expressing their personal thoughts and not agreeing with a female leading an organisation because she will make decisions based on emotions. But I said, having empathy is a woman’s trait and it is important because nowadays, you need to have an appreciation for your wider team,” said Suzanna.
“This organisation is diverse, and in any organisation, there are males, females, married and unmarried, those who live with parents and children; people have different personal circumstances, in order for any organisation to be successful you have to empathise that people are different,” continued the CEO.
Expressing her continuous commitment to the organisation, Suzanna advised that one needs to know their worth irrespective of one’s role in the company.
“Believe in yourself… I know what I can and cannot do. I offer value to this organisation and the people that I work with. I’m not going to lie if I don’t know something so I strive to learn from others… and I know I can’t do this alone. That’s what makes a successful organisation, the ability to constantly learn and teamwork,” said the CEO.
She then added that her job value is to have an appreciation of the people she works with; noting strengths and extracting the very best out of them.
When in doubt, one must not shy away from voicing out their concerns and not underestimate the power of your voice.
Touching more on empathy and giving support, she further said that both men and women need to have an appreciation for one another, but it is extremely important for women to support each other.
“We can be sensitive because we are in tune with our emotions and that’s what sets us apart but do not underestimate something as simple as snide remarks someone makes of you. When you hear that, you have a choice; either you get affected or push it aside. I choose to push it aside,” shared the CEO.
In terms of change, Suzanna does not believe in changing people but changing her own environment and reaction would be more convenient. “For it is within my control,” she added.
Imagine: Then, Now and Next
In 2019, Brunei Darussalam’s telco industry embarked on a major transformation which led to the network and infrastructure consolidation of the three different telcos. As a nation, this improved the ability of the company to invest better and give access to improved technologies.
“If we take a step back, when the transformation was announced we knew what the objectives were, as an industry we needed to improve on our network and infrastructure which will ultimately benefit the nation,” said Suzanna.
They rebranded the company from Telbru to Imagine on 24 January 2020 which transformation benefits the wider community with better service and experiences, access to newer technologies, and greater cost efficiency.
Imagine views itself not just as a telecommunications company but as a technology company.
“We work very closely with partners such as UNN to support bringing in newer technologies to the market such as 5G or Cloud technology and a lot of exciting things have happened in the past three years,” she said, adding that it continues to be a work in progress as the company actively doing engagements with various stakeholders.
Imagine continuously positions itself as an ideal choice for Bruneian households and businesses. Besides offering connectivity, imagine is dedicated to continuously supporting its customers, in both consumer and enterprise business, and empowering communities, by introducing new technologies that would improve their quality of life.
“So, you can say that we’re looking beyond connectivity, to be a trusted technology company for the people of Brunei Darussalam,” said the CEO.
“In terms of broadband subscribers, we continue to be the largest market player in the nation and have continued to expand our offerings. We’re also continuing to build on our mobile market share, as seen through our various campaigns and promotions, to offer our clients the best in technology,” added Suzanna.
On future plans, imagine has been anticipating the introduction of 5G technology to the market.
“We’re excited to be able to bring 5G, which the rest of the world has been experiencing, to the Brunei market,” she shared. In terms of other products and services imagine wishes to launch throughout the year, holding strongly on being the best for the family.
“So, going beyond connectivity we believe in bringing other conveniences for the home and for our communities. In addition to that, we are thankful to have our loyal customers, who have been with us on our journey for the past three years and longer! So, we believe it is more important than now we reward our loyal customers,” said Suzanna.
Touching on being seen as a role model as a female CEO of a big organisation, Suzanna said that it is humbling to know there are people out there who see her as one.
“I think that if there was a message that I could share with other aspiring female leaders it would be to know your worth by knowing what it is that you can do, use your voice and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone or ask for help when help is needed. Through all of this, know that you’re never alone. Believe in yourself,” she concluded.
THE BRUNEIAN | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN