Cultivating connections: Sandeep Dhanamani's HR adventure from Chennai to Bristow

In a career that has taken him from India to Aberdeen, HR Shared Services Manager, Sandeep Dhanamani, has seen life and work from very different perspectives, gaining some unique experience which he draws on almost every day.

Those experiences go all the way back to his hometown of Chennai, India, where Dhanamani was born and raised. Living, studying and working in different cultures and countries prepared him for what was to become the toughest period in his professional life. 

“I grew up in Chennai, that’s where I did my schooling, including college," Dhanamani recalls. “During my time in undergrad, I studied Sociology but there was a program that focused on Human Resource Management and that really stuck out to me.” 

Dhanamani said he loved every aspect of HR, since it allowed him to be a part of employee’s entire work cycle, build relationships, and tap into his communication skills, all traits that would serve him well throughout his career. “I’m kind of a people’s person,” he says with a laugh.

But the watershed moment in his life occurred during his college program, which included a placement opportunity. Dhanamani landed his first HR job with an ice cream manufacturing company. “I loved the work environment and the work I was doing. I realized this is the future I want for myself.”

Faced with the typical post-graduation question of “What’s next?”, Dhanamani decided to further his education and pursue an advanced degree in a vocation that he knew was his calling.

“I could stay here and help my parents with their businesses in India, or I can continue my education and get my master’s. My parents were quite young, and I wanted to explore other options, so I thought, I’ll pursue my master’s and see what the future holds.” 

His search for a suitable master's program led him to Aberdeen, Scotland, following advice from an undergraduate lecturer. Adjusting to life in Aberdeen was surprisingly easy for Dhanamani, a transition he said was made possible because of the locals who embraced him with open arms.

“One of the many things I like about Aberdeen is how welcoming everyone is. People will always go out of their way to help. I have lived here now for more than half of my life and that hasn’t changed."

After completing his master’s in 2006, he worked for a Research Institute in Aberdeen as HR Administrator. In 2008, he briefly returned to India to support his family business. His return to the UK two years later saw him venture into the oil and gas industry, including a stint with Baker Hughes, which Dhanamani called a challenging but enlightening experience. 

In 2012, Dhanamani was presented with an opportunity to join Bristow. A friend of his was leaving the Company and was asked if she knew someone who would be suitable for her job. “I submitted my resume, interviewed, and got the position,” he said.

What was initially a short-term engagement gradually extended and became permanent. 

“It was supposed to be just three months,” said Dhanamani, “and then it went from three to seven months after that I was made permanent. I think they like me so, I’m still here.” 

When asked about what he values most about Bristow, he pauses for a moment, as if overwhelmed by the sheer number of things he wants to mention before quickly crediting his fellow teammates. 

“Where do I begin? My team, for one. We have a great team which is our strength. Second, would be work-life balance. I don’t know a lot of people who get to experience that. And lastly, company culture, we live by our core values, and we mean what we say when it comes to teamwork.”

As for the future, Dhanamani is committed to fostering an inclusive, accepting, and sustainable work environment, adding that his organization is already well on its way. 

“As a team within HR we are already working towards that. The diversity in this organization is what really drew me in. As someone who has been on both ends, being interviewed and the interviewee, I know how Bristow treats people,” he shares with conviction.

Completing a transformative journey from India to Bristow, Dhanamani has not only fulfilled his passion but also left a profound imprint on the lives of those he's encountered. Simultaneously, he's gleaned valuable wisdom from the diverse individuals he's met along the way. He looks forward to continuing to make a difference.

“You can write about diversity in your company handbook or on your website, but we’re really doing it. That makes a difference, and we will continue to build on that.”