Not everyone will buy into your idea or vision, but you have to cajole, coax and even threaten depending upon the situation," says Vibha Padalkar, CEO of HDFC Life Insurance, adding in the same breath, "but you still have to take everyone along." Padalkar should know; she oversees a workforce of 19,000-plus, 51 million customers, a network of 412 branches and more than 250 partners.
Competition is tough, and rules are getting stricter. But HDFC Life is among the top five players in the industry. It earned total premium of Rs 29,186 crore and net profits of Rs 1,280 crore in 2018/19, and has assets under management worth Rs 1.25 lakh crore the same year. But with the economy slowing, the insurance industry faces many challenges. Padalkar, however, is confident of growing more than the industry. "Insurance is seen as a defensive product. We should grow faster than the industry," she says, adding that she is open to acquisitions if an opportunity arises. Under her, the company has built a strong protection business - products that cover the loan liability of households. The company is also focussing on the annuity segment.
Padalkar's confidence stems from a career spanning over two-and-a-half decades spent in FMCG, auditing and insurance.