Behind every successful executive is often a supportive spouse. In this case, Dinesh O. Saxena studied dutifully in India and had an arranged marriage with Manju. The union not only worked well, but made it possible for Saxena to obtain a good education, rise through the ranks in India and later in the United States.

Born in Rajkot, India in 1958, Dinesh O. Saxena excelled at an early age. From the time he was in pre-kindergarten, Saxena met high educational standards. His parents sent him to Carmel Convent School in Junagadh, where teachers expected excellence. There was no time in Saxena’s schedule for extracurricular activities. When his family moved to Jetalsar, Saxena took the train at 7:30 a.m. to attend school Monday through Saturday. He returned at 7:30 p.m. “I had a reputation of knowing things,” Saxena says. He also became the head of the class.

This dedication to education stayed with him as he grew older.

“My parents decided I was going to be an engineer or doctor. I cried all the way,” says Saxena of his first exposure to college. He attended M S University, Vadodara, India from 1975-1980. The first year, he rebelled. He failed two out of eight subjects. “I realized this wasn’t going to work,” he says. By the second year, he was back on track. He put his head down and studied.

This resulted in a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering—a surprising degree for someone who would later go into insurance.

General Electric was looking for a sales engineer in India. Hundreds applied, but three people made the final cut. Saxena got the job. He spent five years from 1980 to 1985 as an electrical engineer.

Saxena’s personal life changed when he married Manju in an arranged marriage in 1984. The marriage has lasted 32 years. Since Manju’s family was located in Long Island, New York, the couple moved to Woodmere, New York, on the south shore. “I thought it made sense to move,” Saxena says. “I took the American dream.” Two children were born, Chandni and Priya, who still call home for advice even though they are both in their 20s.

Manju says of her husband, “He’s my friend. He’s the best guy I met after my father. He is very hardworking, honest and family oriented. He is very humble. I am honored to be his wife. I always supported him as did the rest of the family. He loves his job and is passionate about it.”

In New York, he found his career going into another direction and he became manager of a multi-specialty medical practice. New York Life Insurance recruiting representatives found Saxena’s name on a baby list. They called and offered life insurance, but Saxena ended up with a job there instead.

“I was in my late 20s, likable and hardworking,” Saxena says. He joined New York Life Insurance as an agent and, in his first year, he made $98,600.

“I was good at being normal, natural and sincere,” he says. “I could paint a realistic picture. When you act like a sales person, people can see through that.” Saxena stayed with NYLI and gradually rose through the ranks. He left the company in October 1992, however, to work at MetLife, which he considers a large mistake. “I wish I could turn the clock back,” he says.

Saxena rejoined NYLI as partner in February 2013 and only a few years later became senior partner and then within two weeks managing partner in 2016.

Although the couple lived in Dublin, Ohio, they planned to move to Cincinnati for the remainder of his career. At 58, Saxena would be happy retiring in his current role. “I enjoy what I do,” he says. “There is no burnout. I am at the top of my game. It is not work.”

In 1994, Saxena started recruiting and became proficient in that role. He has hired diverse people with differing skill sets, which represent the make-up of America. Saxena looks for individuals with strong business acumen, organization, and analytical and strategic problem solving skills.

He prefers the managing partner role to keep in touch with people. “I can see the fruits of my labor. I can excel,” he says.

Does he have professional goals? “I would like to be more tactful,” he says. “You can’t outwork me,” he adds. “Nothing gets in the way of my work,” he says. “I can block the emotions off. There is no distraction; I am adamant.”

Saxena puts in his hours, often working on Saturday. He takes his phone on vacation, while someone else might leave it at home.

He has 40 direct reports. “I speak my mind,” says Saxena. He has the candor, clarity and compassion without sugarcoating any issues. People know where they stand with him. “It serves me very well,” he says. In addition, New York Life provides guidance and support to managers, he says.

The company will permit him to work until he is 70. Saxena would like to have 100 sales associates by the end of 2020, or earlier, if possible. “If you can go to the moon,” he says, “it’s doable.” In retirement, he wants to write a book about the mistakes he has made and become a motivational speaker.

Saxena never had a mentor. “God is my mentor,” he says. Although he and his wife are Hindus, he doesn’t actively practice religion. There is one room in his house, however, used as a temple.

“When I die, the village should cry,” he says. “I should be greatly missed.”

He has received several awards from New York Life recognizing his work: Partner of the Year for Ohio – 2015, Recruiter of the Year – 2014, and Premier President’s Council – 2015.

Saxena has had a 25-plus-year career in growing agencies through recruitment, retention and high performance.

A native Indian, Saxena is trilingual: English, Hindi and Gujarti.

Chandni, 29, followed in her father’s footsteps: she is a global health consultant traveling the world for Abbott Laboratories. His younger daughter Priya, 26, attends the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance for graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle.

What does he do in his spare time? He doesn’t have any. But, he does sing in Hindi along with his wife whom he credits with a strong voice. “I started to give her company,” he says. “People tell me I could get good at it.”

David Odom, NYLI managing partner, Columbus, has known Saxena for three years. Saxena was a district agent recruiting, but Odom thought his skill set would be better utilized as a partner. In that role, he excelled and earned a promotion. Odom says, “Saxena is very driven, but has relationship skills. He truly cares about his people. I think highly of him as a friend and colleague.”

“I am very proud of him.”

To receive more articles from Cincy Magazine sign-up for a complimentary subscription here: