Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Set Your Own Standards for Work and Life

Practical pointers to establish a life by which you want to be remembered

Theresa M. Szczurek //July 19, 2018//

Set Your Own Standards for Work and Life

Practical pointers to establish a life by which you want to be remembered

Theresa M. Szczurek //July 19, 2018//

How do you want to be remembered? Tandean Rustandy – an inspiring rags-to-riches entrepreneur – is known for setting his own higher standard of giving to others. He states:

"I believe all can benefit.  Ask what can I give, how can I serve?  When you go into business, determine how you can contribute to others."


Tandean Rustandy was born and raised in a small town on a river in Indonesia from humble beginnings. There was no clean water, nor electricity. His grandfather was a shipper; he died when Rustandy was six years old, as did the business.  Rustandy went on to build a successful, socially responsible, sustainable ceramics business which, today, employees more than 3,000 people in five locations throughout Indonesia.

Having celebrated its 25th anniversary in business, PT Arwana Citramulia Tbk is the No. 1 ceramics firm in Indonesia and No. 14 in the world. 

Rustandy is pursuing his passionate purpose. 



Luckily, his mother supported his education. Rustandy received a good education – High School in Toronto,a B.S. in Finance in 1987 from the University of Colorado, Boulder, Leeds School of Business, and an MBA in 2007 from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. Rustandy was the first in his family to graduate college.


While working on his undergraduate degree and helping pay his way through college while washing dishes, Rustandy made good friends. One friend actually lent him money to pay his last semester of tuition – the two are like brothers now. When Rustandy travels now, he chooses to take the train.

"I can afford to take a limousine, but that cuts me off from people. It is important to see the real world, so you can remember who are serving."


After graduating from the CU Leeds Business School, Rustandy got involved in a timber business in Indonesia. It made him a multi-millionaire by the age of 25, but it was damaging the environment. He decided to move on and start a socially responsible business. His current business, Arwana, is an eco-conscious company which has been awarded the Green Industry Award from the Indonesia’s Ministry of Industry for six years in a row. Arwana is also the first company in Indonesia to obtain ISO 14001 certification for its environmental management system.


Rustandy chose to locate his new business in 1993 where he could help the poor through the creation of jobs in manufacturing tiles.He now provides jobs, health care and education for his employees. It has not always been easy; his firm almost went bankrupt during a financial crisis, but he has stayed true to his values.

  1. GIVE BACK  

Rustandy says, "Everyone has responsibility to help the next generation." A $20 million gift from Tandean Rustandy supports expanded research and programming in social innovation and entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago through the newly named Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation. He also made a $6 million pledge to support innovation at CU Boulder. 

“Our aim is to elevate our efforts in entrepreneurship, innovation and design in new, refined and disruptive ways in and outside of the classroom, said Sharon Matusik, dean of the Leeds School. “To have Tandean step forward with this meaningful investment to continue our long tradition of entrepreneurship helps further not only our momentum with curriculum advancements, but also our world-class reputation.”

Tandean Rustandy says, "Stay in touch with people, to stay connected to life. Ask, how can I help? Especially encourage young people to ask, how can I contribute? "

He quotes Helen Keller, "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart."