More companies and organizations in Norway and Asia will be making the world smaller under the management of La Follette School alum Daniel Bellefleur.
The 2010 alum is helping Norway's version of the U.S. Peace Corps expand its programming in Asia.
A consultant and country representative for Tractus Asia, Bellefleur is the international consulting firm's only employee in Indonesia. "My colleague in our India office found FK Norway's request for a proposal to help them expand their partnership program across Asia," Bellefleur says. "He forwarded it to me as he knew I had worked in the development arena. As the project was very aligned with what I am interested in and supports a good cause, I wrote the proposal, which we eventually won."
Bellefleur will manage the expansion over the next two years, helping FK Norway (or Fredskorpset) facilitate more two-way exchanges between Norway and countries in Asia. "FK Norway gives young people in Norway and developing countries the opportunity to experience each other's reality," says Bellefleur, who, prior to enrolling at La Follette, spent two years in the U.S. Peace Corps in northern Thailand as a community development volunteer. "Since 1963, about 400 colleges, organizations and businesses have exchanged physiotherapists, engineers, journalists, designers, activists and others in collaboration with FK Norway."
Bellefleur's overall responsibilities for Tractus are to oversee all in-country operations, domestic and international business development, and the implementation of regional and Indonesia-based projects. "By identifying potential foreign direct investors, developing project implementation strategies and proposals, and facilitating corporate expansion across Asia, I work with the Tractus team to help companies succeed in emerging markets," he says.
When Bellefleur started the La Follette School's Master of International Public Affairs degree program in 2008, he knew he wanted to work as a professional in Southeast Asia. "I didn't know what I wanted to do — it could have been in development, government or the private sector," he says.
"When I first came to Indonesia after graduation in 2010, I worked in all of those areas as a policy advisor with the American Chamber of Commerce Indonesia," he says, "and then I moved to the private sector but still work in both business in governance."
For AmCham, Bellefleuer conducted analyses with local advisors at the Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and the Indonesia Employers Association. He is vice chair for the American Chamber of Commerce Indonesia's committee on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, looking to better understand and advocate on behalf of ASEAN Economic Community initiatives.
He joined Tractus in 2012 and established its Jakarta office. "My role here is dynamic — I must find potential clients in-country, build the networks necessary to obtain information and outlets for networking and marketing, undertake all administrative activities, and implement projects," he says. "It is relatively unique as I am the only person for the company in Indonesia and am constantly working to grow the business. For consulting projects, I have worked on a number of Indonesia market research and strategy projects while contributing to regional site selection projects. I also co-managed two trade missions to Myanmar last year."
At Tractus, Bellefleur finds that the generalist nature of his MIPA degree has stood him in good stead — although he wishes he had taken more statistics courses. "The skills that I improved the most were my ability to consume, analyze, and write on diverse and dynamic topics," Bellefleur says. "This ability is invaluable to my current role at Tractus as we are a generalist firm. Although we are not experts in every industry, we are professionals in market entry and expansion. We must understand each client's industry and that industry's potential in-country. Thus, I must delve into various sectors and associated regulations quickly in order to propose and implement projects."
In that vein Bellefleur published an article on manufacturing in Indonesia in Industry Today's October issue and another on Indonesia's mineral export ban on the Industrial Minerals website. "I spoke three times on an Indonesian business news show (MNC Economic Buzz) where I spoke about Indonesian FDI, ASEAN Economic Community, and Indonesia manufacturing competitiveness," he says.
Bellefleur is also learning about higher education, having completed an agreement between Tractus and Universitas Siswa Bangsa Internasional, the first Indonesian university to offer an accredited U.S. degree entirely within Indonesia. "USBI is a new and up-and-coming university that is focusing on an applied education where students should be able to enter the work force without much additional training following graduation," Bellefleur says. "USBI has a number of ties to U.S. universities as well as support from the U.S. Agency for International Development. Through our memorandum of understanding, Tractus' Jakarta office is at the university, and I run an ongoing internship program to give students applied business skills."
"The partnership is a fantastic opportunity bringing the international private sector together with Indonesian higher education for mutual benefit to grow business while enhancing local entrepreneurial activities and student capacity," he adds.