Jacob Jacob


30 Years of Shaping Strategies and Leading Change

Jacob Jacob

Group Chief Human Resources Officer,

Malabar Group

Crafting a successful HR strategy is a nuanced process, requiring a tailored and focused approach. Key components involve a deep understanding of business drivers, alignment with core company values, and the ability to connect individuals to shared objectives. Maintaining decision control is vital for steering outcomes in the intended direction.
A successful strategy must be customised to the workforce’s needs, considering cultural nuances and diverse skill sets. Effective communication of metrics in a simple and locally applicable manner is crucial for ensuring workforce understanding and engagement. The strategy should instill a sense of responsibility and autonomy among employees, reinforcing a collective commitment to growth.
In the evolving landscape of HR, innovation takes centre stage, ushering in an era of efficiency, adaptability, and heightened employee engagement. Jacob Jacob, Group Chief Human Resources Officer at Malabar Group, brings over 27 years of experience, positioning himself at the intersection of visionary leadership and strategic HR evolution. His commitment to innovation is reflected in advocating for a lean HR structure and the direct involvement of dynamic individuals. Jacob seamlessly integrates innovative HR practices with ethical sourcing and sustainability initiatives, especially in the retail industry. Beyond shaping organisational structures, Jacob’s innovative approach reflects a fusion of business acumen and ethical values, fostering a forward-thinking and ethically grounded culture.
TradeFlock delves into Jacob’s working ethics and principles in an exclusive interview. 

Summarise your HR career, highlighting key roles and milestones shaping your leadership style and strategy.

With nearly three decades of experience in HR, my career journey has been diverse and impactful. I began by working in the HR consulting division at Feedback Ventures in Delhi, engaging in tasks ranging from helping articulating company vision statements to conducting assessment centres. A pivotal phase followed during my five-year tenure with Emirates Airline in Dubai, including a transformative collaboration with McKinsey at Mahindra and Mahindra whilst at Feedback. This global experience deepened my understanding of cross-cultural nuances and labour laws, setting the stage for a strategic shift to a significant five-year role with Emirates Airline, contributing to projects like the terminal transition to T3. Subsequent years in the healthcare sector with companies like Apollo Hospitals and Columbia Asia, SE Asia Global roles broadened my industry exposure. My career reflects a rich blend of consulting and line roles across diverse industries and regions, with each juncture instrumental in refining my leadership style and HR strategy.

What are your strengths as a CHRO, and how do they shape your leadership approach?

As a CHRO, my strength lies in forging meaningful connections with individuals and aligning their efforts with performance goals. This skill is honed through diverse international experiences, offering insights into cultural nuances and individual motivations. My leadership style prioritises humility, blending emotional intelligence with decision-making to inspire teams to exceed expectations. Fostering an environment of humility and connection proves instrumental in providing effective guidance and enhancing overall team performance and collaboration.

What has been the primary inspiration shaping your career throughout its course?

The primary inspiration shaping my career has been the opportunity to collaborate with great leaders and supportive teams. Working with passionate individuals and having the freedom to experiment has positively shaped my professional journey. Maintaining a balance of principles, humility, and understanding the team’s mindset has been pivotal in navigating a fulfilling career spanning nearly three decades.

What legacy do you aim to leave in your career?

I aspire to be remembered with humility, striving to make an extraordinary difference in people’s lives despite being an ordinary person. My legacy is defined by a focus on principles, making a positive impact, and a commitment to excellence.

How does your international experience in designing pay-forperformance metrics influence their effectiveness across diverse cultures?

Effective cross-cultural pay-for-performance metrics demand nuanced understanding, communication simplicity, and customisation. Alignment with local laws, merging with company values, and ease of comprehension are crucial. In regions like Africa, hands-on approaches, like focus groups, are vital for effective communication and understanding. A deep understanding of how compensation works across regions is critical.

How do your ethical sourcing and sustainability initiatives align with the group's HR policies and practices?

The company’s values, including humility and transparency, serve as guiding principles for HR policies and practices. The emphasis on educating customers about gold purchasing aligns seamlessly with ethical sourcing initiatives. Training programmes consistently focus on customer-centricity, aligning with the company’s commitment to transparency and trust. The overarching goal is to cultivate a culture that prioritises ethical practices, positively impacting the customer experience. This alignment between ethical initiatives and HR practices contributes to a cohesive and values-driven organisational environment.

What future HR trends do you foresee, and how are you preparing for them?

Anticipating the future of HR, I foresee an intensified war for talent, making retention a critical focus. Companies will consider talent scarcer than capital, necessitating judicious utilisation. Customisation will play a pivotal role in catering to diverse workforce needs and skill sets. To prepare for these trends, the HR strategy must emphasise learning and development, ensuring employees are equipped for evolving roles and responsibilities. A proactive approach to talent management, acknowledging its scarcity, and fostering a culture of continuous learning will be essential in adapting to future HR dynamics.

If you could have a fictional mentor, who would it be and why?

While I draw inspiration from real-life HR leaders and CEOs, if I had to choose a fictional mentor, it would embody the balance between ambition and humility. Imagine a scenario where a lion chases a deer; both must run faster each day, emphasising the importance of continuous effort and adaptability in career growth. This analogy encapsulates the essence of ongoing improvement and evolution in a professional journey, qualities I value in a mentor, even if fictional.