“The first job taught me the dedication needed to become a better leader”

For Anoj Rimal, the last two and half decades have been a time in his life of professional excellence and achievements as well as braving the challenges that have come along the way working in Yeti World which is one of the largest aviation, travel and hospitality groups in Nepal. Rimal started his career in aviation as an Internal Audit Officer at Nepal Airways. He joined Yeti World in 1998 and worked as Group Director-Finance and has been working as the CEO of Yeti Airlines and Tara Air since July 2020. In a conversation with the HRM, Rimal talked about his professional journey, the lessons he learned from his first job and opportunities in the travel and tourism business. Excerpts: 

Tell us about your first job.
After completing my MBA at the age of 24 from Tribhuvan University, I started my job at Nepal Airways Pvt. Ltd. as an Internal Audit Officer and later in the Finance Department.

How did you get into the job? 
I was good at numbers in my college days which made me get fascinated with finance/accounts. It was my first attempt at the job after the completion of my post-graduate studies. Despite tough competition, I along with three other candidates was selected for the job.

How difficult or easy was it for you to get the job at that time?
The market was not competitive as today. However, access to information related to job vacancies and the pool of candidates was not easy at that time as nowadays. The job market used to be traditional due to the limited access to information about jobs. However, the market was expanding as IT infrastructure was developing at that time.

What challenges did you face after joining the job? 
Due to my qualification, I was placed at the supervisory level and all of my subordinates were experienced employees and some were even double my age too. Initially, it was a challenge to lead such a team at a very young age, to gel and be accepted by the team. It was my first job and I was in a supervisory position overloaded with information and there existed a challenge in terms of getting fit into the company’s culture.

Did the sector/field match your academic area? 
I was always good with numbers and I choose to take finance as my specialization during my studies. Initially, I had never thought to get into the aviation sector. However, during the course of time when I returned to Nepal, I got an opportunity to explore my career in finance. So, I would say my interest, job and academic areas matched during the initial phase of my career.

What lessons did you learn from the first job? 
I learned that I needed to be willing to do anything that the job responsibility asks for. I learned to see every door/challenge as an opportunity. The first job taught me the dedication needed to become a better leader.

You’ve been with Yeti World for 24 years now. What changes the group has gone through over these years?
We have had a great journey of 24 years and the company has grown during these years. Yeti World has been focusing on the hospitality and tourism sector operating hotels, resorts, travel companies and airlines since its inception. The Covid-19 pandemic badly affected global tourism and the Yeti group was also affected; every vertical of the group was affected. The sudden collapse of international and domestic tourism severely impacted the Nepali aviation, tourism & hospitality sectors and we are still struggling to recover from the huge losses and adjust to the ‘new normal’.

What major professional and personal achievements would you like to highlight over this period?
Over the years, I got the opportunity to work in various departments of the organization. At the beginning of my professional journey, I learned how an organization functions. Adhering to that knowledge, I was able to be associated with different business verticals of the Group and different other associations beyond the organization. So, the ability to lead a team with a problem-solving attitude to overcome challenges and realization of my personal as well as professional goals is the major achievement of my career.

The two years of the Covid-19 pandemic were very difficult times for aviation and tourism businesses. What challenges did you face to lead the companies?
The impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry was tremendous. With the emergence and the outbreak of new variants of the coronavirus, the pandemic has affected every aspect of the global travel, tourism and hospitality business. Covid-19 has made organizations think about sustainability. We faced our highest-ever financial loss during the pandemic. Managing people’s emotions, deploying a limited number of people and ensuring proper health and safety for the employees along with institutional survival were the major challenges we faced. The crisis has made our teams think on different levels. A participative approach to decision-making and two-way communication from the leadership was the key focus of the organization to ensure proper management during the crisis situation.

As a professional with nearly 25 years of experience in the aviation and tourism sectors, what factors do you think can have a positive impact on the career growth of young people who want to make their career in these sectors? 
Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world and also in Nepal. People who are looking to build careers in the aviation and tourism sectors can get endless opportunities in a country like Nepal. Tourism has a huge scope in Nepal in terms of geographical and socio-cultural diversities. People looking to pursue their careers in travel and tourism can choose to work in a wide range of verticals including travel agencies, tourism departments of the government, immigration and customs services, tour operators, airlines, hotels, and many more.Having a degree in tourism and hospitality studies from a recognized university will be an added advantage required for the job to be in a specialist position. Tourism in Nepal will continue to grow thanks to increased initiatives of both government and the private sector.

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