HR’s Rising Stars: Why this leader dedicates 60% of her time to mentoring

Anagha Bildikar, a 2024 Human Resource Executive HR’s Rising Star, has a mantra: Problems can be complicated. Solutions are simple. This touchstone, she says, is a helpful reminder in a season when the human resources practice is more complex than ever.

Bildikar is the leader of HR practices at Neeyamo, a global payroll and employer-of-record platform established in 2009. Headquartered in India, the organization was founded to address the payroll needs of mid-market human resource departments.

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Today, its “follow-the-sun,” 25 language-strong workforce has 1,700 employees mainly in 36 global locations. And workers in 60 countries handle the specific needs of the jurisdictions Neeyamo serves. The average workforce age is a youthful 24.5.

With a unique blend of HR and product experience, Bildikar has been with the company since the beginning, holding progressive leadership roles throughout her career. She is currently the head of human resources and the principal lead for payroll automation.

Bildikar was one of five up-and-coming HR leaders honored this year as HR’s Rising Stars by Human Resource Executive. All were recognized at the recent Elevate People, Ignite Change conference in Las Vegas.

A truly global practitioner

Dawn Klinghoffer, head of people analytics at Microsoft, calls Bildikar a “transformative leader and an innovator” in HR practices. As a former HR Rising Star and a 2024 judge, Klinghoffer was impressed with the breadth of Bildikar’s work spanning global HR delivery, workplace flexibility, talent attraction and retention, digital transformation and data-driven agility.

“Her contributions have generated significant business value, operational efficiency and employee engagement for Neeyamo and its clients,” Klinghoffer adds.

Bildikar’s domain and technology expertise span talent acquisition, employee relations, training and development, compensation and benefits, and legal compliance in the core HR area. Her colleagues say that her professional investment in understanding the “dynamism” of the HR world has always helped Neeyamo stay relevant in the marketplace and as an employer.

Contributions by Bildikar have generated significant business value, operational efficiency and employee engagement for Neeyamo and its clients. Her achievements include heading large HR transformation projects for Fortune 500 global clients (saving them millions of dollars and countless hours) while also managing internal HR functions.

Anagha Bildikar, Neeyamo, HR's Rising Stars 2024
Anagha Bildikar, Neeyamo’s head of HR

Bildikar says she’s been lucky to have touched on different aspects of HR, from transactional and operational to strategic involvement in the tech side of the business, which she says is “ruling the HR industry right now.”

Because Neeyamo provides HR services and products, Bildikar has extended her expertise to the platform’s clients, working alongside them as together they solve their unique challenges.

“It’s only when you’re living the real life of an HR head—dealing with the problems and understanding what’s happening on the ground—that you have the power to build solutions which are not only tech- or service-focused but derived from real-life experiences,” says Bildikar.

Considering Neeyamo’s position in the core HR space, she approached her company’s leadership with a proposition. She argued that if the organization aspires to be the best in providing services to the outside world, it cannot afford to have a disconnected internal human resources arrangement. “The experience we offer our clients should parallel the experience our employees have,” says Bildikar. “Now we eat the same dinner that we cook.”

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Her suggestion initiated a pilot project, which turned out to be successful. Her pioneering effort to set up a center of excellence for HR analytics has revolutionized the way people-related decisions are made by anchoring them in data to ensure that HR strategies are in sync with business results. Under her leadership, the center has generated valuable insights that have contributed to a 20% rise in employee engagement scores.

Bildikar is also credited with overhauling Neeyamo’s talent acquisition process. By integrating advanced analytics and AI-driven tools, she reduced the hiring cycle by 30%, significantly enhancing the company’s operational efficiency. This initiative improved Neeyamo’s ability to attract top talent and positioned the brand as a forward-thinking employer in a competitive market.

A source of positive energy

Bildikar has earned awards for her skills, and her colleagues call her a “trailblazer” in innovation and leadership. Her co-workers have identified her potential to be an influential force in the HR domain who champions practices that “raise the bar for the profession.”

Bildikar is an avid learner who continuously seeks opportunities to expand her HR knowledge and leadership capabilities. She holds a master’s in human resources—specializing in change management—from the London School of Economics. She’s also gained GPHR and CIPD certifications plus a professional certification in product management from Northwestern University (Kellogg School of Business) to deepen her strategic business acumen.

Bildikar is known for seizing an opportunity and digging into it using the resources at hand. Once she’s taken action, she may pursue learning to understand if there’s a theoretical basis for what has been done. She says that while many people study first and then gain work credentials, she’s done things differently.

“Once my career takes me somewhere, I have lived the practical experience and then decided to get a formal education to kind of back what we have been doing and say, ‘Was what we’re doing right, or is there a better way?’ ”

Bildikar’s leadership style is characterized by her exceptional emotional intelligence and ability to inspire her team. Her open-door policy and mentorship programs have cultivated a culture of continuous learning and innovation, preparing a new generation of HR leaders to take on future challenges at Neeyamo.

Her contribution to creating a positive work atmosphere has boosted team efficiency and established her reputation as a rising leader. For her teams, Bildikar budgets funds for HR personnel certifications, promotes involvement in supplemental training and organizes knowledge-sharing sessions to discuss learnings from conferences or to deliberate on HR case studies.

“As I evolved in my career, I realized that one can’t be a manager or leader and sit on a laptop on Excel and catch up with work and have meetings,” says Bildikar. To nurture talent and drive success, she dedicates 60% of her time to mentoring and upskilling her teams.

Under her guidance, Neeyamo’s “Future Workforce” program was designed to retrain and augment the digital transformation skills of employees, resulting in a 40% increase in internal mobility.

She says sharing success stories and fostering an open communication channel has been crucial, and she often relies on real-life anecdotes and collaborative problem-solving. This learning approach has allowed her to strategically focus and motivate those around her, even during challenging times.

“I think more than anything, it’s just the energy that you bring to the floor,” she adds. “You can’t let a bad day show on your face when you’re trying to motivate people around you, so I truly believe in one thing—you would never see me with a frown or a grumpy face, no matter what stress we’re going through.”

Jill Barth
Jill Barth is HR Tech Editor of Human Resource Executive. She is an award-winning journalist with bylines in Forbes, USA Today and other international publications. With a background in communications, media, B2B ecommerce and the workplace, she also served as a consultant with Gallagher Benefit Services for nearly a decade. Reach out at [email protected].