Grab vehicles lined up for display. Source: fivestarsandamoon.

Grab hires Indonesia’s ex-police chief to oversee corporate governance

2017 HAS kicked off with a number of very high profile HR shifts – from Marissa Mayer stepping down from Yahoo, to Microsoft losing a top exec to Baidu, and Tesla poaching a top engineer away from Apple. The latest case is that of Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra announcing his return to Silicon Valley after 3.5 years in Beijing and jumping ship to head up Facebook’s VR teams.

Ride-hailing unicorn Grab has also recently announced an exciting new hire of its own, one from far outside the tech industry. It brought Badrodin Haiti, Indonesia’s former national police chief, on board to oversee corporate governance and growth strategies for Southeast Asia’s largest market.

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Haiti was the archipelago’s head of police from April 2015 to July 2016 and according to a company statement, he “brings extensive experience working with government stakeholders and ensuring aligned interests among different stakeholders”. Despite the vague statement, it’s clear that Haiti will be able to bring immense value to Grab in the way of government relations – a challenging arena for ride-hailing companies to navigate due to regulatory grey areas.

Indonesia in particular, has presented a number of migraine-inducing regulatory obstacles for Grab and its competitors, namely Uber and homegrown unicorn Go-Jek. While the end of 2015 saw a very temporary ban of ride-hailing apps, city authorities in Jakarta had threatened to do the same later in 2016.

According to Reuters, the Indonesian government has created a series of regulatory hurdles for ride-hailing service providers, requiring them to pass vehicle safety tests and secure local partners – among other conditions. This is where Haiti’s network and experiencing dealing with tricky regulation should come into play.

“As the technology and ride-hailing sectors evolve in Indonesia, Mr. Haiti will play a guiding role to ensure Grab contributes constructively to the implementation of new transport regulations and safety guidelines,” said the company in a statement.

Besides hiring on Haiti, Grab also brought on ex-SoftBank exec Ming Maa as its new president back in October and also secured an investment from an auto industry giant in December. With the #deleteUber campaign now going viral, it’s very likely that Grab will be able to pull ahead in the race for Southeast Asia in the coming months.