NextGen Award

An offshoot of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ – the world’s most prestigious business award – the EY NextGen Club Award is a platform for EY NextGen Club members to showcase their entrepreneurial endeavors. Candidates for the award are assessed by an international panel of judges, and the winner gets the invaluable opportunity to participate in the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™ Forum in Monte Carlo.

Winner 2017: Christina Suriadjaja, “Christina has proved that interpreneurship can take place within a family business. She has proven that she can build and create new value and has earned her stripes and credibility with her family as well as non-family members.”
Annie Koh

Winner 2017: Christina Suriadjaja,

Christina Suriadjaja likes following unconventional paths. When she was just 14, she became a professional netball player for the Singapore national side. Later, deferring a prestigious graduate degree in the US and a top job with a world-renowned travel group, at the age of 23, she set up her own company, an online Indonesian travel firm called

But following a less conventional path has been fruitful for Christina., a home rental provider that manages individual owners’ and property developers’ units for shortterm rentals, is now a successful travel group. It is in one of the most rapidly expanding sectors in the country, and Indonesia is expected to have the fastest-growing online tourism market in the Asia-Pacific region over the next five years.

The more conventional — and easier — path for Christina would have been to follow the typical next-generation route into her family business. This would have meant not deferring that graduate degree and working a bit longer at the prestigious travel group before entering the family business.

The family business is, in Christina's case, PT Surya Semesta Internusa, a big Indonesian property, construction and hospitality group that was started by her grandfather in 1971 and is now run by her father Johannes Suriadjaja. That said, the link with the family business was not broken completely. is backed by Surya Semesta Internusa, which is a minority shareholder. But the idea of starting the business was very much Christina’s, and she used US$90,000 of her life savings to get the company off the ground. She also had to convince her family that it was a good idea.

“Growing up with unquestionable respect and obedience toward our first-generation patriarch leaders doesn’t set an easy stage for the third generation,” says Christina. “It’s even more of a problem for women entrepreneurs such as me.” Christina says that, in the eyes of most of her relatives, her decision to pursue her entrepreneurial spirit with was just another “deviation phase,” similar to the netball episode when she was 14. Some even labeled her company a “small project” that was unlikely to amount to much. But, as has succeeded, their doubts have been assuaged, especially those of Christina’s father.

“My relationship with my daughter has always been very good, and that’s never changed,” Johannes says. “But I have now become more of a mentor to her on business skills and less like a parent.” Christina says the relationship is very much one of mutual respect. “We have become closer since working together. He gives me a lot of independence and doesn’t actually tell me what to do,” she says. “He’s more of a mentor these days and is very philosophical, asking. ‘What’s your purpose in life?’ and ‘How do you want to treat people?’ He doesn’t tell me what I have to do this year, but reminds me of the long term.”

Christina also says that her experience at a sports boarding school in Singapore, while she was pursuing her netball career, was great for character-building. “This was a significant milestone, as the boarding school shaped my character development and instilled great discipline, perseverance and determination in me, qualities that helped me launch my company.” is certainly on the move. It has some big-name partners such as TripAdvisor and Tuniu, and it has also been promoted by Indonesia’s Ministry of Tourism. “I have learnt to align’s vision and mission and to optimize the company’s management skills. On these foundations, I can carry forward my early stage travel company to be the top online, alternative accommodation-booking platform in Indonesia by the end of the year,” says Christina. With these skills and the determination that Christina gained at such an early age, few would bet against her making a great success of