An Untold story of a lawyer Hasan Yaqoob, Director- Corporate Affairs at InMobi Group who is now renowned name of corporate world

This Interview has been published by Pragya Chandni and The SuperLawyer Team

You’ve had an illustrious career spanning various sectors including telecommunications, e-commerce, and disaster management. What initially drew you to the field of law, and how has your legal background influenced your approach to corporate affairs and public policy?

Two decades back I started my career as a lawyer from Lucknow Session court under the senior ship of Advocate Askari Anwar known for his legal intelligencia and criminal trials in Judiciary. Got my first case of a poor boy who was in judicial custody for a month as his widow mother had no money & resources to help his 18 years old son arrested for the scuffle during a cricket match with the son of an influential local municipal corporator. Advocated the case in court and bailed him out on the first hearing for which I got the Prasad of Hanuman Mandir and blessings from the mother of my client as the legal fee of my first case.

It is pertinent to mention that I got the legal fraternity in legacy, my grandfather and father were both prominent lawyers of their times. My father Late Haider Yaqoob Advocate was known as the legal pillar of the Medical health department, Govt of UP having expertise in service and waqf laws. Continuing my rich legal legacy I appeared in several matters in Hon’ble High court, Lucknow bench and set the new success stories specially in cyber laws cases with the rapid relief to my clients.

In 2006, I started getting the cases from the corporate organisations & got the opportunity to set the new benchmarks of success. I was the pioneer of telecommunication Lok Adalat, by organising the first Lok Adalat in Lucknow to resolve the recovery cases of Reliance communication pending since long.

Noticing legal acumen and rapid legal remedials I was approached by Mr Anil Ambani’s office directly and has been offered to join Reliance Communication as legal Manager for Uttar Pradesh. After several brainstorming sessions with my family and seniors in the fraternity I stepped into the corporate domain and joined RCOM.

During the job era in Reliance, created a large network of lawyers covering all the districts of Uttar Pradesh and delivered remarkable results in the telecommunication domain which resulted in the garnering of additional new responsibilities of Corporate & Government affairs in the organisation. Utilising the legal acumen rapid results could be delivered in consumer forum, State Commission, NI Act, Recovery suits, Labour cases and matters related to IPC etc.

Later on, I was offered a job by several corporate houses and have worked with Tikona Digital networks , Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea, Walmart’s Flipkart, Inmobi Group.

As a leader in both the Legal & corporate sectors, you’ve played a pivotal role in bringing about positive change in Uttar Pradesh. What advice would you offer to aspiring professionals looking to make a similar impact in their communities, especially fresh Law graduates & Lawyers to enter in corporate affairs careers?

I believe that transitioning from a legal career to corporate affairs can be a natural progression for lawyers looking to broaden their skill set and explore new avenues within the business world. Corporate affairs professionals play a crucial role in managing an organization’s relationships with stakeholders, shaping its public image, and navigating complex regulatory landscapes.

Lawyers bring valuable skills to this role, including legal expertise, analytical thinking, and the ability to navigate intricate regulatory frameworks. They may leverage their understanding of laws and regulations to ensure the company complies with relevant requirements and mitigate legal risks. Additionally, their experience in contract negotiation, dispute resolution, and problem-solving can be beneficial in addressing various challenges that arise in corporate affairs.

Transitioning to corporate affairs may involve acquiring additional skills such as communications, public relations, and strategic planning. Networking, professional development opportunities, and gaining practical experience in corporate settings can help lawyers successfully make this transition. Overall, the move from a legal career to corporate affairs offers lawyers a chance to apply their skills in new ways and contribute to the success of organizations in different capacities.

Throw some light on how you have been instrumental in leveraging telecom, e-commerce platforms to empower artisans and MSMEs & overall society in Uttar Pradesh, thereby contributing to entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment. What strategies do you believe are crucial for ensuring the sustained growth for the society through corporate initiatives?

Other than my regular job practices, I always focus on bringing transformation in society by changing the livelihood of common men, empowering women and introducing sustainability models by virtue of corporate domain resources.

I am glad to share that using  personal connections and intervention in the corporate world more than one thousand youth of Uttar Pradesh have been employed in different corporate companies so far.

Played a prominent role in changing the livelihood of thousands of artisans & MSMEs of Uttar Pradesh by supporting them through E-commerce platforms which expanded their reach nationwide and increased their products visibility and revenue in high numbers, promoted entrepreneurship and women empowerment.

Using my E-commerce strength, also gave a new height to UP ODOP program through Online digital selling of ODOP products, I was instrumental in boosting the sale of ODOP products in thousands of crores which was appreciated by hon’ble Prime Minister Modi during GIS 2022 at IGP Lucknow, ODOP products sale on Flipkart is only more than 2500 crore in last 3 years. Also developed a dedicated ODOP & Khadi storefronts for online sale with worldwide access. This initiative was appreciated by Hon’ble CM Yogi and Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh as well.

I also supported the farmers and agriculture system of Uttar Pradesh by doing the capacity building and making farmers Samarth for showcasing, expanding their agriculture business at national level by the help of online platforms and opportunities.

I opine that society development through corporate excellence and initiatives involves leveraging the resources, influence, and innovation capabilities of corporations to address social challenges and contribute to the overall well-being of communities. Here are some ways this can be achieved:

1. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Programs:-
Education and Skill Development: Companies can invest in educational initiatives, providing scholarships, building schools, and offering vocational training to improve local workforce skills.
Healthcare Initiatives: Corporations can support healthcare by funding hospitals, running health camps, and promoting health awareness programs.
Environmental Sustainability: Implementing eco-friendly practices and supporting environmental conservation projects can help tackle issues like climate change and pollution.

2. Inclusive Business Practices:
Fair Trade and Ethical Sourcing: Ensuring fair wages and safe working conditions in supply chains supports economic development and reduces poverty.
Local Hiring and Procurement: Prioritizing local hiring and sourcing from local businesses can boost local economies and create job opportunities.

3. Innovation and Technology:
Tech for Good: Developing and deploying technologies that address social issues, such as renewable energy solutions, healthcare innovations, and educational tools, can drive societal progress.
Research and Development (R&D): Investing in R&D for products and services that meet the needs of underserved communities.

4. Public-Private Partnerships:
Collaborating with governments and NGOs to implement large-scale development projects, such as infrastructure development, public health campaigns, and educational reforms.

5. Philanthropy and Corporate Foundations:
Establishing corporate foundations that focus on specific societal issues, providing grants, and supporting non-profits and community-based organizations.

6. Employee Engagement:
Encouraging and facilitating employee volunteerism, where employees contribute their time and skills to community projects and initiatives.

7. Sustainable Business Practices:
Implementing sustainability practices that reduce environmental impact and promote long-term ecological balance, benefiting both the company and society.

8. Impact Investing: Investing in social enterprises and projects that aim to generate both financial returns and positive social impacts, such as affordable housing, clean energy, and sustainable agriculture.

9. Advocacy and Leadership:
Using corporate influence to advocate for policies and regulations that promote social equity, environmental protection, and economic inclusivity.

By integrating these strategies into their core operations, corporations can play a pivotal role in societal development, creating a positive impact that extends beyond their immediate business interests.

Your role in supporting the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including sourcing essential medical supplies and arranging transportation, demonstrates a unique intersection of corporate and social responsibility. Could you share some insights into how corporate entities can effectively collaborate with government bodies during crises like the pandemic?

During covid times using corporate excellence and connects, we as a team acted as a support system for the government and society, hundreds of Modern Ventilators, Oxygen concentrators, numerous Oxygen plants, lakhs of PPE kits, N95 masks and other preventive goods were arranged by us through different corporate houses which saved the lives of people in large numbers. We played the role of saviour by the arrangements of dedicated commercial aircraft which bought covid goods from the foreign lands to India.

Corporate entities can support government efforts during a crisis through a variety of proactive and strategic initiatives. Here are several ways they can come forward:

Financial Contributions and Donations, Providing Goods and Services, Essential Supplies, Critical services like telecommunications, transportation, and healthcare support at no cost or reduced rates, Logistical and Operational Support, Supply Chain and Distribution, Facility Use – Make company facilities available for emergency use, such as converting office spaces into temporary shelters or medical facilities, Technological Assistance, IT Infrastructure-Provide technological infrastructure and support, such as cloud services, data analytics, and cybersecurity measures, to help manage crisis response.
Innovation and Development – Develop and deploy technology solutions, such as apps for crisis communication, contact tracing, or resource allocation, Human Resources and Expertise, Skilled Volunteers Consultation and Training, Public-Private Partnerships, Community Engagement and Support, Awareness Campaigns, Research and Development- Innovative Solutions: Invest in R&D to develop new technologies and solutions that can aid in crisis management and recovery. This includes everything from medical research to environmental technologies, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiatives- Crisis Focused CSR-  Integrate crisis support and disaster relief into CSR programs, ensuring sustained engagement and support during and after crises .
By taking these few steps, corporate entities can significantly bolster governmental efforts during crises, leveraging their resources, expertise, and infrastructure to provide comprehensive and effective support.

Your advocacy for environmental sustainability, including your initiatives like installing anti-pollution air purifiers near the Taj Mahal, highlights the importance of corporate leadership in addressing pressing societal issues. How can corporations effectively balance profitability with environmental stewardship?

Sustainable Practices by corporate organisation is a mandate of late,  Promotion of sustainability and resilience in business operations helps to mitigate future crises, particularly those related to environmental and climate-related challenges.

Adopting sustainability practices in business operations offers numerous benefits to corporations, including:-

1. Cost Savings: Sustainable practices like energy efficiency, waste reduction, and resource optimization can significantly lower operating costs over time.
2. Brand Reputation: Companies committed to sustainability can enhance their brand image and attract customers who prioritize environmental and social responsibility.
3. Regulatory Compliance: Proactively adopting sustainable practices helps businesses stay ahead of environmental regulations, reducing the risk of fines and legal issues.
4. Competitive Advantage: Sustainability can differentiate a company from its competitors, appealing to a growing market segment that values ethical practices.
5. Employee Engagement: A commitment to sustainability can boost employee morale and attract talent, as many workers prefer to be associated with socially responsible companies.
6. Investment Attraction: Investors are increasingly looking for sustainable businesses, as these are often seen as lower risk and more future-proof.
7. Innovation and Efficiency: Sustainability initiatives can drive innovation, leading to the development of new products and services and improving operational efficiencies.
8. Risk Management: Sustainable practices can help mitigate risks related to resource scarcity, supply chain disruptions, and climate change impacts.
9. Long-term Viability: By focusing on sustainability, companies ensure they are not depleting resources needed for future operations, supporting long-term business success.

These benefits collectively contribute to a more resilient, profitable, and socially responsible business model.

With your extensive experience in corporate affairs and public policy, particularly in the realm of telecom, e-commerce and AI domain, what are your inputs and suggestions to make Uttar Pradesh as an AI & Digital hub of nation ?

Firstly thanks to the Government of UP for notifying the UPAI committee consisting AI experts from different tech companies to be part of the AI journey in Uttar Pradesh. Furthermore, We need to create an AI ecosystem in Uttar Pradesh and transforming Lucknow into an AI-powered city requires a multi-faceted approach involving government, industry, academia, and the public. Here are some key initiatives that could help achieve this vision:-

Establishment of AI COE in Lucknow.

Education and Skill Development centre for AI ,AI-focused Curriculum: Integrate AI and data science courses into the educational curricula of schools, colleges, and universities.

Training Programs: Launch vocational training programs to reskill the existing workforce in AI technologies.

Research Centers: Establish AI research institutes in collaboration with top educational institutions to foster innovation and development.

Policy and Regulation: AI Policy Framework: Develop a comprehensive AI policy framework to guide the ethical and sustainable use of AI technologies.

Industry Collaboration: Public-Private Partnerships: Encourage partnerships between the government and private sector to fund and develop AI projects.

Start-up Ecosystem: Create a conducive environment for AI start-ups through incubators, accelerators, and funding opportunities.

By undertaking these initiatives, Uttar Pradesh can pave the way to becoming a leading AI state, enhancing the quality of life for its residents and positioning itself as a hub for technological innovation.

Lastly, tell us about your legal, corporate journey and what honorary positions you are holding in the government domain? And drawing from your rich and diverse experiences, what advice would you give to recent law graduates or young professionals aspiring to pursue a career path similar to yours, particularly in navigating the complexities of corporate affairs and public policy while staying true to their values and principles?

I am currently serving as the Director Corporate Affairs, in Inmobi group, India’s first unicorn and now a double unicorn with Glance also notching up incredible growth in less than two years since its inception. Have held leadership positions in north India leading telecoms, E-commerce companies, industry bodies, chambers and as a think tank. Currently Chairman of UP E-commerce & logistics council, Honorary advisor to District Disaster Management Authority, LKO, Govt of UP & Advisory Member on AI -I T & Electronics Department, Govt of UP.

Holds Masters in Human Resource management, bachelor in Laws, Journalism experiences, my penned down articles widely published and a leading voice for developing countries and emerging economies on digital economy, global markets, deepening democracy, political economy, media ecology, disruptive technology, regulatory affairs and public policy. My interest is only to  serve the nation through my Corporate excellence as my professional expertise has always directed towards serving both people and the state, signifying a commitment to social responsibility and community welfare. By fostering legal acumen, ethical business practices, prioritizing employment of youths & well-being, and actively engaging in philanthropy, have contributed in societal development of state. My approach has led to economic success with broader social and governmental objectives, creating a harmonious balance between corporate growth and public welfare. Have been admired by Hon’ble Governor of UP, Deputy CM, Several Ministers and Govt stakeholders at several instances for his dedicated contributions for the upliftment of state and bringing glory to Uttar Pradesh through his corporate excellence!!

Answering the second part of the question, I think building a career in corporate affairs while maintaining ethics, principles, and values involves a multifaceted approach. Here are some key strategies to help youths in achieving this:

1. Professional Integrity:

   – Adherence to Ethics: Always adhere to a personal code of ethics and the ethical guidelines of your profession.

   – Transparency: Be transparent in your communications and actions. Build trust by being honest and straightforward.

   – Conflict of Interest: Avoid situations where personal interests might conflict with professional responsibilities.

2. Building Relationships:

   – Networking: Build a network of like-minded professionals who value ethics and integrity.

   – Mentorship: Seek mentors who exemplify ethical leadership and can guide you in your career.

   – Stakeholder Engagement: Engage with stakeholders ethically, ensuring their needs and concerns are addressed fairly.

3. Corporate Governance:

   – Best Practices: Advocate for and implement best practices in corporate governance within your organization.

   – Policy Development: Develop and enforce policies that promote ethical behaviour and compliance with laws and regulations.

   – Ethical Leadership: Lead by example, demonstrating ethical behaviour in all professional activities.

4. Ethical Decision-Making:

   – Decision Frameworks: Use ethical frameworks and decision-making models to guide your actions.

   – Long-term Perspective: Focus on long-term benefits rather than short-term gains, ensuring decisions are sustainable and ethical.

   – Accountability: Hold yourself and others accountable for ethical behaviour. Encourage a culture of accountability within your organization.

5. Communication Skills:

   – Clear Communication: Communicate clearly and honestly with all stakeholders.

   – Crisis Management: Handle crises ethically, ensuring transparent communication         and accountability.

   – Reputation Management: Maintain and protect the organization’s reputation through ethical practices.

6. Regulatory Compliance:- Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with relevant laws, regulations, and industry standards.

By integrating these strategies into your career development, you can build a successful career in corporate affairs while maintaining your ethics, principles, and values. Remember, consistency in ethical behaviour not only builds personal integrity but also fosters a trustworthy and sustainable business environment.

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