In Conversation with Dhanashree Thakkar – Head of Human Resources, Bharti AXA Life Insurance

With her diverse experience. Thakkar believes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach in HR. An Alumna from IIM Ahmadabad, Thakkar talks about her illustrious journey, cultural ethos of an organisation, trends for 2024 and much more in this exclusive conversation with Krishnendra Joshi, Editorial Lead, BW People.


Career and Background

Can you share key experiences from your almost two-decade career across different sectors and geographies? How has this diverse background shaped your approach to human resources?

My two-decade career has spanned across diverse sectors shaping my approach to human resources (HR) in a multitude of ways. Here are some of the key experiences that have shaped my perspective:

Ø Cross-Sector Insights: Working in various industries has taught me that there is no one-size-fits-all approach in HR. Each sector presents its own unique challenges and requires tailored solutions. It's crucial to avoid blindly adopting trendy HR practices without understanding their relevance to the specific context.

Ø Continuous Learning and Business Acumen: As an HR professional, maintaining a strong grasp of business principles and metrics is essential to gain credibility and influence within the organization. Understanding the impact of HR initiatives on business outcomes is paramount for driving effective change.

Ø Translate life learnings into Empathy, Well-being, and Authenticity: HR plays a crucial role in fostering a positive and supportive work environment. Integrating life lessons and personal experiences has enabled me to cultivate empathy, prioritize well-being, and maintain authenticity in my interactions with colleagues and stakeholders.

As an alumna of IIM Ahmedabad with a degree in General Management and a Master's degree in Psychology, how do you integrate these disciplines into your role in HR?

My education at IIM Ahmedabad, coupled with my Master's degree in Psychology, has been instrumental in shaping my HR approach. The interdisciplinary knowledge gained has been invaluable in understanding the human element of HR practices.

Ø Interdisciplinary Linkage: HR functions are closely intertwined with business transformations and technological advancements. Understanding the psychological aspects of human behaviour allows me to effectively navigate these complexities. For example, when you focus on transformation or technology change it cannot happen without people as a vector.

Ø Creating a Culture: A balanced approach of my learnings combined with knowledge of psychology has helped me understand the process of creating a culture or ways of shaping human behaviour. The principles of psychology, such as Pavlovian conditioning, shed light on the dynamics of reward systems, feedback mechanisms, and overall culture shaping.

Leadership and Strategy:

What is your approach to leading the people, talent, and cultural agenda at Bharti AXA Life Insurance with a focus on creating capacity for growth?

At Bharti AXA Life Insurance, I have championed the "Employee First and Business Forward" mantra, driving a culture of growth and employee empowerment.

Ø Quantifiable KPIs: HR metrics are translated into actionable KPIs, ensuring that HR initiatives directly contribute to business objectives.

Ø Alignment with Organizational Culture: The organization's values are seamlessly integrated into everyday work practices, ensuring that individual behaviour aligns with the collective ethos.

How do you align the cultural ethos of the organization with individual employees to achieve the best performance as a unit?

Culture isn’t created overnight and is a diligent set of practices closely linked to business performance. To make these linkages few simple practices help such as,

Ø Integrate values into everyday behaviours of " how work gets done here"

Ø Link values to every step-in employee life cycle and not just performance management , for example in hiring process - what values are most crucial to work here, in on boarding process - if openness is crucial, allowing for open forums right from start, If communication is important how many frequent forums exist for same.

Ø Have balance of recognition plus punitive mechanisms where values are celebrated or gross violations are recorded.

Ø Create Cultural rituals which celebrate values across all stakeholders.

Mentorship and Leadership Coaching

As a trained leadership coach, how do you leverage coaching techniques to develop and support your team?

My journey as a leadership coach has been personally enriching, clarifying my core values and providing a framework for personal and professional growth:

Ø Core Values as Guiding Principles: My two core values – Being Authentic and Making a Difference – guide my interactions with my team, promoting open communication, mutual respect, and a growth mindset.

Ø Emotional Intelligence and Leadership: Understanding and managing my own emotions has helped me create a supportive and empathetic environment where team members feel valued and encouraged to express their thoughts and ideas.

Yearly round-up and trend for 2024

What according to you is the biggest development in the HR and business landscape and what would be your one prediction for 2024?

The HR landscape is constantly evolving, and 2024 promises even more transformative changes.

Ø Business-Driven HR: HR's focus must shift to demonstrating its direct impact on business outcomes, aligning HR practices with organizational objectives.

Ø Technology's Prominence: Technology will permeate HR processes, enhancing efficiency, predicting attrition, and optimizing talent management. AI will play an

increasingly prominent role in various aspects of HR, streamlining processes and providing data-driven insights.

I believe these trends will shape HR in the years to come, requiring HR professionals to embrace continuous learning, adapt to technological advancements, and remain a strategic partner in driving organizational success.

Tags assigned to this article:


Around The World