Jacob Jacob, Group Chief Human Resources Officer, Columbia Asia Healthcare, tells Priya Sunil all about his 'simple and lean' workday, which involves conversations with co-associates from all across the office, how he keeps meetings to under 30-45 minutes, and more.

Q What’s the typical start of the day like for you?

The start to each day would typically be 5:45am to 6:00am. It starts with a bit of exercise, breakfast, prayer and, post that, my children (two daughters) and I would leave for their school by 7:00am (this is when I am not travelling – travel ranges from about five to 10 working days a month).

The best part of the day is the 15 to 20-minute drive to school and the conversations that we have in the car. Discussions are on various topics such as hobbies, travel, studies, movies, etc. and this part really energises me for the day ahead.

I usually get to office by about 7:45am and the first 45 minutes to an hour is normally a quiet hour for me wherein I reflect upon the previous day – how it went, what could be better, and planning for the day ahead.

Q What’s on your office desk? Send us a photo!

My desk is usually clean and neat with very little paper. It usually contains my note book, a magazine and a book.



Q Back to work: what’s on the agenda, and how do you manage your time?

I try to keep my day simple and lean. My aim is to try and avoid too many meetings and keep it only to the bare minimum. The idea is to free up my time and I try to manage a lot by walking around.

Within the office, I usually spend quite a bit of time talking to my co-associates across the spectrum of the office. The conversations are usually around how they are doing, what could be better, soliciting ideas, and sharing and exchanging view points on various topics.

In essence, I try to understand the rhythm of the organisation at various points in time through informal networking.
I try my best to manage a good working day on most days and force myself to leave office on time too so that there is a clear balance between professional and personal life.

Q What can people expect when they receive a meeting invite from you?

The meeting invite will be very concise – it will detail the agenda clearly, the discussion points, and time. I keep meetings as brief as possible and usually to the point. Feedback given to me by my colleagues and associates that I have worked with in the past has been that my meetings hardly go beyond 35 to 40 minutes, maximum.

Q Who is your role model in or outside of work, and why?

There have been many influencers in my life – it is a combination of people whom I have worked with, some of my previous bosses, and also some of the people I have come in contact with.

What has inspired me most is their work ethic and standards of integrity, which I do not compromise on at all. I have also learnt from some of my subordinates in terms of how they work well and smartly.

Q It’s the end of the long work day - what’s your favourite way to end it?

A walk in the evening with my spouse, family dinner with conversations, reading a few pages of a book, and watching a bit of news on TV.