Brijesh Dholakia of Hari Krishna Exports.

The New Generation is a WDC News Update series that tells the stories of up-and-coming diamond industry leaders, examining the role that they see for themselves, in the business and the diamond itself. Each article in the series is delivered in the person’s own voice.

The sixth article in the series features Brijesh Dholakia of Hari Krishna Exports.

I am Brijesh Dholakia, one of the eight brothers who make up the second generation of the family that established Hari Krishna Exports, a major diamond manufacturing and trading company headquartered in India.

I have two wrist tattoos, with one saying “Be Different” and the other “Passion.” They are reminders of how I wish to live my life. Many people follow norms to fit in, but being different is good. It allows you accept your unique identity, while welcoming innovation and growth. Instead of conforming, your dare to be yourself, and be passionate about it. I believe that those who do will leave a lasting impact.

The first-generation leaders at our company believed in us, and now its we who are driving positive change. We’re committed to turning their vision into reality while staying true to our roots. They believed we should always be the first to adopt new technology.

As my uncle Savjibhai Dholakia, our Founder and Chairman says, “To stay relevant, we must evolve.” These are words that sum up our approach perfectly.


Connecting to our natural environment

Another foundational principle at Hari Krishna is the connection to our natural environment.

In Surat, the Diamond City where our most important manufacturing facilities are located, is a peaceful oasis called Kisna Nature Park. It’s is a beautiful spot that I created, under the guidance of my uncle.

The Kisna park was inspired by personal experience. In 2015, after introducing a fish tank to my home, I witnessed first-hand how it fostered a love for nature in children, teaching them the importance of caring and appreciation for our environment.

Members of the public being introduced to the exotic bird population at the Kisna Nature Park, a sanctuary in the diamond center of Surat created by Brijesh Dholakia, with support of Hari Krishna Exports, to enable the local population reconnect with their natural surroudings.

The park reflects my passion, serving  as a sanctuary where the people of Surat can reconnect with the natural  environment and its many inhabitants. It is home a stunning variety of more than 100 species of birds, fishes and other animals.

The Kisna Nature Park is a microcosm of a far more ambitious project, undertaken by the Dholakia Foundation, which is a philanthropic arm of Hari Krishna Exports. Called Mission 102030, it is dedicated to the reforestation and restoration of degraded lands across our country, recognizing that trees play a critical role in combating climate change, preserving biodiversity and improving the livelihoods of communities. 

To date we have successfully planted more than 2.5 million trees across 25 locations in India, and our goal is to plant 10 million trees by 2030. 


Going undercover in Bangalore

Our family has a unique tradition of training future leaders. After completing high school, each of us goes undercover for a month in a city in India where we have never been before, and need to do four jobs incognito. It is meant to teach us the value of money, and just as important to better understand the lives of others.

None of the people we meet know who we are and where we come from. From their perspective, we are villagers seeking jobs.

In 2008, it was my turn. I went to Bangalore and spent three full days searching for work. Every store I visited seemed to reject me, saying things like “come back later” or “not hiring today.” It was demotivating, but I kept going.

Finally, on the fourth day, a branch of the Subway sandwich chain, which was opening in different parts of the city, offered me a job. I was so happy, even though it was a big change from having everything I needed at my fingertips.

Savjibhai Dholakia, Founder and Chairman of Hari Krishna Exports, preparing trees for planting as part Mission 102030, created by the company’s philanthropic foundation to support the reforestation and restoration of degraded lands across India.

The experience was a real eye-opener. It taught me valuable life lessons about being resourceful, dealing with rejection, and understanding the true value of what I earn.

I remember that I once received a tip of 20 rupees at the branch at which I worked. Tipping was not a usual thing there. Have you ever tipped at a Subway? Think about it!


Building a fulfilled and well-supported workforce

We were sent undercover because our founding generation believed it would help us understand our employees’ lives better. Growing up we were always well-provided for, but we were made to realize that this was not the experience of all with whom we work. By being placed in situations similar to those being experienced those less fortunate than ourselves, we would be better equipped make the correct decisions in the future for the company.

A core belief at Hari Krishna is that employee happiness is paramount. A fulfilled and well-supported workforce translates into a superior product, imbued with our people’s positive energy. This translates to a more meaningful experience for whoever owns and wears our diamonds, creating a legacy that transcends generations

Rows of cars in a stadium during the ceremony at which Hari Krishna hands out loyalty bonuses to members of staff.

In 2014, Savjibhai introduced a new program to improve the lives of our employees, explaining the whole company would benefit if they felt secure and satisfied. That year, 207 houses, 500 Fiat Punto cars and 570 special edition Kisna Diamond Jewellery pieces were presented to 1,277 employees.

In 2016, 1,665 employees qualified for loyalty bonuses, and a “Skill India Incentive Ceremony” was conducted in 2018, at which incentives like cars and fixed deposits were presented to around 1,700 diamond cutters and engineers. 

The event was graced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who personally handed car keys to selected HK Group employees in New Delhi and conveyed his blessings to more 25,000 family members in Surat via live video.

At Hari Krishna Exports, we are proud to have aligned ourselves with the World Diamond Council’s mission of promoting universal ethical business principles within the diamond industry. 


Carrying on a proud legacy

I am proud to been able carry on the legacy of our founders, all while trying new things and taking care of our employees.

None of my generation began our careers in a senior management position. We had to spend 10 years learning the business from the ground up. We all started the same way, me and my seven brothers.

Building our dream wasn’t easy, but we were always there for each other, like a strong wall. We learned from every mistake and celebrated every win, big or small. Teamwork is what makes Hari Krishna Exports special.

Authentic leadership transcends mere financial accomplishment. Success is about about positively impacting the world around us. By leading with innovation, integrity, and a genuine desire to drive change, we can build a legacy that illuminates the path for future generations.

Brijesh Dholakia addressing an event in Surat, India.

From the series