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Ratih Wilda Oktafiana

Global Public Affairs intern at IKEA Ingka, Malmö

Portrait photo of Ratih Wilda Oktafiana

I did my internship at IKEA Ingka, Malmö, as a Global Public Affairs intern. For me, as an Indonesian, the image of Sweden in my country was brought by IKEA. I think it was 2014 when IKEA first came to Indonesia. At first, most of us must be puzzled because we have no prior information about IKEA – except those who already visited one abroad. But for the rest, we have no idea.

I may say that my first impression of IKEA in Indonesia was mindblowing. IKEA took over Instagram with the visitors' posts in IKEA’s alley, IKEA’s meatballs became the most loved and reviewed by many, as the ice cream, and all the simple yet sophisticated products. Upon visiting IKEA for the first time in Indonesia, I was surprised by how IKEA pust a lot of many Swedish identities in the interior. It was a bold move. We never really had a prior big encounter with Sweden, but then IKEA brought that to us, confidently. When many nation branding affected how the brand developed in foreign countries, in this case, it was the other way around. IKEA pretty much created Sweden’s nation branding in Indonesia. And I think that is really cool.

On top of that, I also admire how IKEA maintains good communication strategies in the constantly changing environment. I have more than five years of experience working at PLN, the big electricity company in Indonesia, so I know how hard it is to maintain all the communication strategies in all subsidiaries to work in sync and perfect harmony. We often face so many obstacles in implementing communication in the right way.

From what I see from IKEA, they have a very strong brand image in all countries of operation – which I believe is a reflection of how good you are at keeping the communication works alive, appreciated, developed and encouraged to be innovative. That’s why I want to learn and get involved in how IKEA uses strategic communication that aligns with the company’s values, goals, and strategies – at the global and country level.

Describe the projects or tasks you worked on during your internship.

  1. Positioning through the preparation of briefings for Ingka Group C-suite spokespeople for high-level events and engagements with policy - and decision-makers, NGOs, associations, and industry peers. I joined the project for international projects such as Global Refugee Forum 2023.
  2. Foresighting through preparing briefs on emerging geopolitical topics defined by the global team.
  3. Supporting the work with the Public Affairs teams in Ingka Group's 32 countries – including document review for IKE Ingka’s China team, strategic report, stakeholder management, etc.
  4. Drafting position papers and standpoints through research and active engagement with different business functions – where I contributed to creating a strategy for Public Affairs framework for a global project that will be used in the long run.
  5. Building up framework capabilities, methods, and tools for Global Public Affairs – I created a new framework for the team.

How were the skills you attained in your master's program useful during the internship?

The ability to craft and deliver clear, compelling messages to various stakeholders, including government officials, NGOs, and the public, is crucial. My master’s program also has many practical courses where we have to work with companies and government, and also with real cases. This is helpful to understand how the external communication works.

Also, since my program trained me in both written and verbal communication skills, this is a critical skill that I managed to boost during my study at Lund University – English is my second language so it wasn’t an easy battle for me!

How did your internship contribute to your academic and professional development?

  1. Real-world application of knowledge. I think this practical experience helps reinforce academic learning and deepens understanding.
  2. Hands-on experience – I gained experience in various aspects of global public affairs, such as stakeholder engagement, policy analysis, and strategic communication. This exposure allows them to develop practical skills that are essential for success in the field.
  3. Networking opportunities – can open doors to future career opportunities and provide valuable insights into the field.
  4. Exposure to different perspectives – working in a global environment like IKEA Ingka exposes interns to diverse perspectives and cultures.
  5. Professional development – this is a good opportunity for professional development, including receiving feedback on performance, learning new skills, and gaining exposure to best practices in the field.
  6. Resume building that will be useful in the job market in the future,
  7. Understanding working and corporate culture.
  8. Building confidence

What was the most valuable lesson you learned from your internship experience?

To be more confident in myself! Coming from Indonesia, I feel like I’m behind in everything, and that affects me in how I express myself. My mentor in Ingka noticed that and kept pushing me to never hesitate every time I had an idea. Turns out, my skills and knowledge were far from behind. It’s just me who lacks confidence because of my background, but being an intern at Ingka makes me discover my strengths more, and to never afraid to show people what I’m capable of!

Any concluding thoughts about your internship?

I never worked in the Public Affairs sector, the closest one that I’ve done before was in the CSR field – but my internship work was beyond that. All the things are very new and foreign to me at first. However, I managed to overcome the obstacles because I think communication students and practitioners are built to become very versatile, and I obtained these skills in both professional and academic environments. I tried to be more critical, creative, innovative and dare to try things with all the skills that I have. It is for sure not an easy job, but I eventually received so much good feedback from Ingka colleagues.