Sukanto Tanoto is the Founder and Chairman of RGE International, a group of natural resource-based manufacturing companies with offices in Singapore, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Beijing, and Nanjing. More than 50 years ago, he started his first business as a supplier of parts in the oil and construction industry.
As a businessman and visionary, he started his business career as a contractor/supplier of spare parts in 1967. After achieving success, he switched to other natural resource industries, such as oil palm, forestry, pulp and paper, and power plants.
Now RGE is a global group with total assets of more than US $ 18 billion, employs 60,000 people, operates in Indonesia, China, and Brazil, and has sales offices overseas.
Its business consists of pulp and paper (APRIL – Asia Pacific Resource International Holdings Ltd and Asia Symbol), palm oil (Asian Agri and Apical), specialty rayon and pulp (Sateri International) and energy (Pacific Oil & Gas).
Sukanto Tanoto believes that a company can only succeed if the company has a value of responsibility. Guided by the principle that all businesses must be operated in a way that is good for the community, good for the country, good for the climate and good for the company.
Sukanto Tanoto ensures that each business unit carries out environmental management and responsible social activities by adhering to and integrating the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in its business activities.
CSR programs include training in integrated farming systems that have supported thousands of villagers to become independent farmers. Other community development activities include small and medium business programs to build businesses, vocational training, community plantation forests and support for social infrastructure.
Equipped with a strong intellectual curiosity and firm belief in continuous learning, Sukanto Tanoto not only continued his own education in leading business schools, such as INSEAD, Harvard and Wharton but also committed to assisting education, especially for rural communities.
In 1981, he and his family started the Tanoto Foundation which aims to reduce poverty and promote society. Working in various fields including education, health, and disaster relief, the Tanoto Foundation provides scholarships to students and teachers, builds schools, also distributes school equipment and textbooks. The Tanoto Foundation also provides health services in rural areas and responds quickly to earthquakes and other natural disasters.
Sukanto Tanoto is a member of the INSEAD International Board, the Wharton Supervisory Board, the Wharton Executive Board for Asia, as well as various other educational, community and industrial institutions. He is the recipient of the Wharton School Dean’s Medal Award which is an award for people who contribute to improving the economy and prosperity in the world. Recipients of this award include heads of state, Nobel prize winners, and leaders and CEOs of various companies.