Rouse in Profile: Arifia (Fia) Fajra

It’s why people climb mountains!

Fia, a qualified Patent Attorney and Lawyer, is currently Head of the Patent Agency Group in our Jakarta office

There are obviously all sorts of reasons why people climb mountains, but perhaps the one famously given by George Mallory, the legendary British mountaineer, underpins them all.  When asked why he wanted to climb Mt Everest, Mallory apparently replied ‘because it’s there’.  Some people just seem to have an inner drive to take the next step, to keep moving forward, to achieve, to go to the top of the mountain.  That’s certainly true of Fia.  She may not literally be climbing mountains, but she’s always moving forward, always looking to improve and extend herself, always pushing boundaries. 

It’s something she started doing very early, at least partly as a result of her family background. Her father was a successful Engineer, head of various government infrastructure projects in Indonesia, and her mother was supporting him in his professional role, as well as running the family home. When Fia was growing up, the family lived in various Indonesian cities, Jakarta, Bandung and Palembang, and the house was always full of books - many of them about self-improvement and self-development.

She remembers very early on picking up one of these books and thinking about how she could improve herself.  The book was about being happy (written by Andrew Matthews) and she began to wonder if perhaps she was spending too much time thinking, whether she should be doing other things, whether there were ways she could improve.  She remembers having a very productive discussion about it with her parents.  In fact, she learned a lot, generally, from them.

At school, she did well academically, particularly in science subjects, and was involved in lots of school activities.  She was naturally rather shy, so, being eager to improve herself and expand her horizons, she deliberately involved herself in a wide range of activities, from Scouts and Science Clubs to dancing. By the time she was in high school, her academic and scientific interests were developing and her ambition was to be an astronomer.  After discussing it with her father, however, she could see that, in Indonesia, the opportunities would be limited – there were no agencies like NASA in Indonesia.  It would be better to study something like Chemical Engineering.  And that is what she did, enrolling at the University of Sriwijaya – which, incidentally, is where she met her husband.

When she graduated, she had no clear plans, except that she knew she didn’t want to work in R&D.  So when a friend talked to her about patents, and a vacancy came up in an IP firm, it seemed an interesting opportunity and she decided to apply.  She got the job and stayed there for 12 years.  She says that during that time she had a very impressive boss and learned a lot from him. He had dual qualifications, both a technical degree and a law degree, and she began to think that having a law degree would give her a real advantage.  So she decided to study law part-time, attending evening lectures at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta.

She has two sons: Dhiwa, who is fourteen; and Hanif, seven.  Both boys seem to be following in Fia’s footsteps to some extent.  Both are interested in matters scientific and love having conversations with her about science, and both are engaged in a wide range of activities - from archery and martial arts to piano playing.  They are also both doing well at school.   Fia says that Dhiwa’s English is excellent (he now is eagerly learning Japanese), helped no doubt by the fact that they always speak English at home, and Hanif has recently won an inter-school spelling bee.  Her ambition for them is that they will find something they really want to do in life, and something for which they are well-suited.

Fia’s life is busy and her days are long – apart from anything else, Jakarta’s traffic is among the worst in the world and it often takes her two hours to get to work.  Still, she wouldn’t have it any other way. She says she is lucky because her husband is able to work from home (he’s an interior designer) and he’s happy to do all the cooking.  Without that level of support it would be difficult to manage.  Weekends are the time to enjoy family activities, taking the children to their various activities, perhaps seeing a film (Marvel, DCs) and just enjoying spending time together.  Every year, they like to travel – while the boys are young, holidays have been restricted to Indonesia, but that will change in the future.

When Fia moved to Rouse several years ago, one of the things that appealed to her was the opportunity to learn and grow within the firm.  She’s taken advantage of that at every step and, in order to deepen her legal knowledge, last year enrolled in a Master’s degree course.  For the moment, she has been too busy to continue with formal study, but continues to study privately and intends to resume the degree course as soon as she can.

One thing is sure – Fia is one of those people who will always be moving forward, always looking to improve, always pushing boundaries.  It’s not at all surprising that whenever she has some spare money the first thing she buys is a book – very often one about self-development or self-improvement.