My first job helped me grow as a professional

In his professional career as a non-life insurance executive, Yugesh Bhakta Bade Shrestha has seen the Nepali insurance business going through big changes. According to him, the current times are very different from when he started his career some 28 years ago.

Shrestha is the CEO of IGI Prudential Insurance Ltd which recently started transactions following the merger between IME General Insurance and Prudential Insurance. Shrestha was the CEO of IME General Insurance. In a conversation with the HRM, he shared how his first job helped him to achieve career growth as an insurance professional and changes in the insurance industry over the years alongside his suggestions for young graduates to become successful professionals. Excerpts: 

How do you recall joining your first job?
As a young man going for his first job, I was very excited and thrilled. The whole experience was very new for me and I had to face many challenges to adapt to the new environment.

Q: How difficult or easy it was for you to get the job at that time? 
It was a little difficult for me as I joined the job at a young age and jobs were not easily available at that time.

Q: How did you prepare yourself for the role?
As it was my first job, I was not very aware of my roles and responsibilities. So, I prepared myself to be a good learner and listened very carefully to what my seniors had to say to me. I was very punctual and disciplined and tried to groom myself according to the organizational environment.

Q: What challenges did you face initially?
There were many challenges I encountered during my first job and a majority of them were adjusting to the work environment, communication skills, learning the job, time management, dealing with work pressure and handling feedback.

What major achievements were there for you professionally and personally? 
As overwhelming as the first job can be, both professionally and personally, it has had a great impact on my life.

Professionally, acquiring new skills and knowledge, generating measurable results and contributing to the organization’s goals, receiving recognition for my dedication and hard work, and learning to be a team player were my major achievements.

On a personal front, adaptability and learning, development of soft skills, learning to maintain a work-life balance, overcoming challenges, and building a professional network were some of my major achievements.

What major lessons did the first job teach? How important the experiences have been in shaping and building your career?
My first job taught me many things that remained throughout my life as big lessons. I learned interpersonal and communication skills, time and stress management, hard work and dedication, teamwork, adaptation, and problem-solving skills. These skills helped me grow as a professional and achieve greater things in life.

You are in the non-life insurance sector for the last 28 years. What changes in the sector have you observed in business over these years?
The industry has changed a lot over the years. Looking back from when I started there have been major changes in the insurance industry in terms of business, government policies, regulation, technology, job attraction, service network, public perception towards the insurance, and many other things.

There were only a few insurance companies providing limited products and services at that time but now there are 14 non-life insurance companies (after mergers) providing top-class insurance services from all over the country.

The contribution of the non-life insurance sector is around 1 percent and the insurance industry as a whole is around 4 percent to the country’s GDP. The sector provides direct employment to more than 15,000 people and indirect employment to around 300,000.

What changes has the sector gone through from a career development point of view? 
From a career development point of view also, the industry has gone through many changes. Previously, the insurance industry was not among the best choice for professional career development with very limited job opportunities and not-so-attractive employment benefits but now people seeking careers in the financial and marketing sector look forward to the insurance industry.

The companies pay huge attention to maintaining a good work environment, professional culture, work safety and health benefits for staffs and their families. The remuneration and benefits offered are lucrative and the long-term benefits help the insurance industry to be the choice for long-term employment opportunities.

How are the growth prospects for young graduates now looking to start careers in non-life insurance?
Today, the non-life insurance industry is one of the major choices for a professional career. As the industry is growing rapidly, it has a huge scope for individuals looking for fast and aggressive growth in their careers in comparison to some other financial sectors. The young graduates can look for multiple job options in the industry as underwriters, marketing professionals, claim assessors, and even surveyors and agents. The employment benefits are good covering all the aspects and one can even think of long-term employment options.

What advice do you have for them to become successful insurers?
As an insurance professional, my advice to young people looking to make their career in the insurance sector would be to gain the proper knowledge of the insurance principles like risk assessment, underwriting process, reinsurance, and claims management.

Another major aspect is to win the trust of the customers and focus on developing long-term relationships. Excellence in service, time management, good soft skills, being a team player and the ability to adapt and evolve with time are some of the major requirements to be successful in this sector.

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