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Leaders in Data: Bridging the Humanity Gap

August 3, 2022

How do you scale the size and abilities of your team to meet the challenges of hypergrowth head-on? Leaders from, and DANA Indonesia give their insight.

"If technology is going to shape our world and there's a lot of skills will become a given in the next few years or decades, what skills do you feel will not change that people still need now and will always need?" - Leona Ho, Director of Growth Analytics at

We had the chance to speak with three hypergrowth leaders in data and were reaffirmed that despite how fast the world is developing, the human element is just as relevant as ever.

Victor Setya, VP of Data at, observes, "In hypergrowth situations, the problems that you need to solve are becoming more and more complex at a much quicker pace." While the answer to these problems usually results in hiring more people to solve them, it isn't always so black-and-white for data. Dennis Jatmatama, VP of Business at DANA Indonesia, notes: "When I joined DANA, there wasn't a role in the market that I figured I could just hire from and pick from." 

How then do you scale the size and abilities of your team to meet these challenges head-on? Join us in this edition of Middle Matters to find out how these leaders managed to crack it.

Building a Safe Space 

Victor's big break came at Tokopedia when the company needed to consolidate their data in preparation for a massive funding deal led by Alibaba. Fresh grads made up the bulk of the team at the time, so he was tasked to set systems in place to make sure the data they needed was in order and needless to say, it was a success. All eyes were on him now, and it became his time to lead significant changes in the company. 

His responsibilities increased as the company did as well, and before he knew it, the team grew from 10 to 100. While he came into the team as an expert in his field, he found himself in new territory, managing a big team while setting new processes.

"I think it's important that we have a very safe space to experiment because you don't have too much experience leading 20 or even 40 people," he said. "People [need to] understand that it's a learning process for us and as well as you guys." 

"It's a precious process because when you become a manager, you have many more responsibilities … It's very important to enjoy the journey." 

Building the Right Team 

When DANA needed to scale to meet the market's demands, there wasn't a title encompassing the agility required in hypergrowth. While Dennis found seasoned experts in a specific field with the ability to anticipate potential problems, they likely also have systems that they're unwilling to budge on. 

"I opted to hire what I believe to be smart, logical people that can learn quickly – these qualities in people will allow them to adapt to any role." 

These are crucial characteristics that complement his leadership style and determine how he puts any team under him together. 

"How I am as a person is reflected in my leadership in the sense of I like to give freedom, I like to give ownership, because that's what I believe is the point of a team." 

Putting the Pieces Together 

With the right pieces in place, Leona adds that the next thing to do is learn how they can complement each other. "Everyone has a different skillset and what they're good at," she observes. "Some might be better at web analytics. Others, better at Python or even machine learning." 

"I always tell them that these skills can complement each other - it doesn't matter what tools or skills you use, as long as you can solve the issue." 

This starts with an open line of communication amongst the team that isn't hindered by judgment or fear. "I think it's important to remind direct reports that you also need their feedback to manage them as well." 

Leona advises managers to communicate boldly to help them understand what they're trying to achieve and, in turn, help them achieve their goals too. 

Reflection Questions 

"Just being able to think from different sides and differing perspectives, understand what people are really saying and [learning] how to persuade and influence… These are skills that are very hard to quantify but can really take one very far in the career." - Leona Ho.

Success in hypergrowth is rewarded with more complex challenges ahead. It’ll leave you juggling the needs of your team and solving the problems at the same time. Leona, Victor and Dennis have shown that building a safe space to experiment while understanding those around you will put you in a position to plan the journey for yourself and those around you. 

  • When was the last time you checked in on your direct report's personal goals and motivations? Are they on the right track? 
  • What did you learn about yourself from the last time a team member gave you feedback?
  • The next time you delegate something to your direct report, how might the challenge of this delegation help them overcome any fears or weaknesses?

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