HRM Asia Watch List 2018: Jahja Soenarta

Jahja Soenarta is currently focused on the next stage of digital transformation for his organisation and its more than 10,000 employees.
By: | October 11, 2018

The HRM Asia Watch List 2018 (#watchlist2018), brought to you by Armstrong Craven, showcases the brightest next-generation HR leadership talent from across Southeast Asia.

For Jahja Soenarta, HR is a function of many faces.

HRM Asia Watch List

Jahja Soenarta

Vice-President – HR, Lippo Karawaci

Based in: Tangerang, Indonesia

HR focus areas: Learning and Development, Culture, Change Management

Favourite aspect of HR: “Developing young talents to become our future leaders.”

Career-defining moment: “Successfully executing the company’s transformation project for our hospitality business. .”

“It isn’t just one thing. It’s recruitment, talent management, yes, but it’s also a bit like sales – employer branding is about selling your company to prospective employees,” he notes.

As the Vice President for HR at Lippo Karawaci, a listed property, hospitality and leisure company under the Lippo Group – and one of Indonesia’s largest property developers – Soenarta is responsible for some 10,000 employees across multiple business units.

In the last two years, transformation, digital and otherwise, has taken up much of Soenarta’s focus.

“When we talk about transformation journey, it means change in every aspect of business: redefining our mission and value together, and shifting mindsets,” he says.

As part of this journey, Soenarta spearheaded an effort to establish a single recruitment centre for all four of the company’s four strategic business units.

“Each was run individually, and had different recruitment standards. Moving people from one unit to another was difficult, because there would be gaps – not so much in terms of industry knowledge, but in terms of agility, leadership style, and so on,” Soenarta explains.

In contrast, the centralised hiring framework that he implemented allowed for greater synergy across the business units while also saving significant costs.

“The only people who aren’t happy with it are the headhunters, because we don’t need them anymore,” Soenarta adds with a laugh.

Initially a finance man, Soenarta was encouraged by a previous boss to give HR a try. He has risen through the ranks over the years in a range of regional and operational roles, but what has kept him hooked is the satisfaction that comes from helping people grow and develop into their talents.

“I love seeing and helping employees grow from blank slates to even director level,” he says. “That satisfaction can’t be described.”

The HRM Asia Watch List aims to showcase the up and coming generation of HR leadership talent in Southeast Asia. The list will be unveiled daily between September 27 and October 19, 2018. Check the dedicated archive for the latest updates, follow #watchlist2018 on social media, or see below. 

Introduction | Welcome address by Tom Mason

Profile #1: Jaspreet Kakar | Profile #2: Dianne Goette | Profile #3: Chen Fong Tuan

Profile #4: Felicia Teh | Profile #5: Monica Oudang | Profile #6: Evangeline Chua

Profile #7: Agapol Na Songkhla | Profile #8: Clayton Tan | Profile #9: Tony Tan

Profile #10: Vanessa Mercado-Maningas | Profile #11: Jahja Soenarta | Profile #12: Minn Yan

Profile #13: Rudy Afandi | Profile #14: Norazlina Idris

Profile #15: Naveen Chhabra | Profile #16: Monir Azzouzi