Bhargav Dasgupta: Embracing People First & Customer Centric Approach to Leadership | CEOInsights Vendor
Bhargav Dasgupta: Embracing People First & Customer Centric Approach to Leadership

Bhargav Dasgupta: Embracing People First & Customer Centric Approach to Leadership

 Bhargav Dasgupta,  MD & CEO

Bhargav Dasgupta


Much like a captain sails their ship through rough waters, a competent leader stands at the helm of their organization. A similarly meticulous leader who has been intricately involved in driving ICICI Lombard on the right trajectory is Bhargav Dasgupta, MD & CEO of the firm. Beyond possessing strong communication skills, realistic optimism, and out-of-the-box thinking, there is an 'X' factor that makes Bhargav loved and respected by his team. This successful modern-day leader transcends convictions and displays mastery by being an open-minded learner, an empathetic mentor, and a customer-focused leader.

While he began his journey with (erst while) ICICI in 1992 as a Manager, his prolific professional journey led him to the role of MD and CEO at ICICI Lombard in 2009. Since then, the company has made its mark as the country’s largest private non-life insurance firm. His principle of customer-centricity has enabled the organization to introduce several top-notch tech backed solutions catering to the risk management needs of its customers. Bhargav’s ability to design effective strategies and consistently ensure better performance and growth is highly inspirational to say the least.

In order to honour his value delivery to the insurance industry, CEO Insights engages in an exclusive interview with him. Peruse his valuable inputs below.

Could you give a brief account of your professional background and experiences?
I spent a brief period with the Tata Group after completed B.E (Mechanical) degree from Jadhavpur University. Subsequently, I pursued PGDBA from the Indian Institute of Management and then joined ICICI in 1992. In the three decades of my journey, I have been fortunate to work in diverse business areas in the ICICI Group including Project Finance, Corporate Banking and Treasury, e-Commerce, Strategy, International Banking and Life Insurance.

I was also responsible for private equity investments in the internet, communications, and technology sectors, the incubation of new internet related businesses, and e-initiatives of the various business units of the ICICI group. I cherish setting up the International Banking Group of ICICI Bank and building its presence in 15 countries within the span of four years. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the team.

What is the motivation that keeps you going?
I enter the office with the urge to do something that can make the organization a bit better than what it was yesterday. This has probably been my approach since I can remember. Personally, brainstorming to elevate the organization in terms of financial
strength, customer service, technology stack, and more energizes me. There is so much to do every day, given the constant changes in the world and the opportunities it offers.

You possess three decades of experience, What is your path to success, and what is your success mantra?
Honestly, I would call myself lucky to have joined the ICICI group at the right time- because I have been fortunate enough to have leaders under whose guidance we have flourished. It has indeed been a fantastic training ground. Most of my learnings are observations from working with leaders, peers, colleagues, and team members. That brings me to my first success mantra be curious & open minded enough to learn from anyone, anywhere. Learning doesn't end once you climb the career ladder. You have to keep learning to be able to contribute well to the organization.

Our focus is on prevention, risk reduction, and mitigation not just selling a policy

This leads up to the next mantra being grounded. A lack of humility prevents you from listening to any advice and perspectives that come up while interacting with people around you. And that curbs the extent of your learning.

The third mantra is to be resilient because our careers will be full of ups and downs and you have to deal with the highs as well as the lows.

The last and most important mantra is hard work. It might sound clichéd or old fashioned, but you cannot reach success if you don’t work hard and demonstrate full commitment.

What is the unique proposition that your organization has? How has the company made a mark for itself?
ICICI Lombard is the country’s largest private nonlife insurance firm, and the first one in the category to be listed on the stock exchanges of India. The growth and positioning of the company in the market are based on four unique and collectively strong key pillars. The first aspect is the deep focus on building customer trust and serving them to the best possible extent. I think every company talks about it, but it is strongly ingrained in the entire DNA of ICICI Lombard. We strongly believe that companies exist for their customers, and if you don't think that way, you can't build a long-term institution.

Further, as a company, we have always believed in adopting technology before anyone else as a means of promoting innovation, efficiency, and convenience. Technological innovation is imbibed in all parts of the office be it processes, product design, distribution platforms, customer service, people practices, and more.

Apart from this, we focus on building a sustainable business that gives importance to risk management. Managing risk in our business is about survival. If you don't manage risk well in this industry, you will be in trouble.

One crucial factor that ties all our USPs together is people and culture. What we are today is because of our people and the culture that we have created within the organization,
fostering innovation and allowing people to do what is right for our customers.

What are the fundamental factors you consider while suggesting insurance/wealth management plans to your customers? How do you personalize your offerings?
Our thought process about insurance is a bit different from most others. We go beyond the traditional mindset of Insurance wherein people pay a premium and once an unforeseen circumstance occurs, the insurance company will bear the risk/loss. This is definitely the main part of insurance. However, the way we think about insurance is that there is a role that we can play in reducing the risk, instead of just paying after something happens. Our R&D has been razor focused on risk mitigation and risk management.

Speaking of personalized services, so far, we have been able to do that by understanding the customer, their risk management practices, safety standards, and process. Based on that, we offer consultation services for reducing the risk, and then give insurance on top of that. While this is the case for corporate customers, we offer various customizations for individuals too.

For instance, let’s talk about one of our products for motors, which is a unique initiative that allows you to pay based on how you drive. The premium will depend on your driving quality and behaviour. We offer a device that detects your driving pattern and gives you a score. If you are a safe driver, we will reduce the premium. That is again beneficial not only for the vehicle owner but others as well. Now, the butterfly effect is that this would make others drive safely and in turn, reduce the risk of accidents.

Similarly, for health, we have an application that provides personalized wellness advice and content healthy life based reduction in premiums and rewards. Of course, if something goes wrong, we are here to support the claim but our focus is on prevention risk reduction, and mitigation, instead of just selling a policy.

What advice would you give to budding industry leaders?
Honestly, the next generation is smart, intelligent, and well aware. They know what the right thing to do. Instead of giving them advice, I can just share my learnings that may help them. Once we become leaders perhaps, running an organization or a small department within it is important to focus on customers and do right by them. I strongly believe that if you work for others’ success, all of them will help you succeed. If you help your team do well, they will collectively ensure that you do well as a leader. If you help your customers, they will help your business grow. If you help your organization the organization will help you succeed.

Bhargav Dasgupta, MD & CEO, ICICI Lombard General Insurance
Bhargav began his career with the erstwhile ICICI in 1992 and has held key leadership positions in diverse business areas. Before his current role at ICICI Lombard, he was an Executive Director of ICICI Prudential Life Insurance. He is also the Chairman of FICCI’s Insurance & Pension Committee and is a Director on the Board of the BFSI Sector Skill Council of India. He is also a member of IRDAI’s Insurance Advisory Committee.

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