“The first job taught me to execute work in a team, handle stressful situations and deal with customers in effective ways”

Careerwise, the past two decades have been very rewarding for Rupesh Sharma Bhatta, Vice President of VG Impex Pvt. Ltd, the authorized distributor of Great Wall Motors in Nepal. Starting as a Service Engineer in Beesants Trading Company in 2001, he went on to become a top professional in the Nepali automobile sector working at United Traders Syndicate (Toyota Nepal), Laxmi Intercontinental (Hyundai Nepal) and VG Impex. In a conversation with the HRM, Bhatta recalls his early years of professional growth, his entry into the automobile sector and advises young people looking to build their careers in the field of sales and marketing. Excerpts:

Q: Tell us about your first job.
A: As a fresh graduate in Mechanical Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology (BIT), India, I joined as a Service Engineer in Beesants Trading Company Pvt. Ltd, the authorized distributor of Heidelberg in Nepal. It is a Germany-based global company that offers a wide product portfolio in sheet-fed offset presses, digital printing presses, and label printing as well as service offerings, consumables, and software solutions.

Q:  How did you get into the job? 
A: I applied after a job vacancy was published in Kantipur Daily for the post. I got selected after interview assessments.

Q: How difficult or easy was it for you to get the job at that time?
A: It was a simple assessment procedure where the applicants had to go through two rounds of interviews for the selection. Beesants Trading was the first company that I applied for a job in, so a bit of nervousness was natural. I consider myself lucky to get selected among five other candidates.

Q: What challenges did you face after joining the job? 
A: Applying my theoretical knowledge to real operations was both exciting and challenging. Similarly, the role involved dealing with various kinds of customers and giving services in various locations. The same techniques and mechanisms may not be applicable to all locations, hence tactful thinking and decision-making ability were required. Moving further, I was assigned to selling products along with service which was entirely new and challenging for me.

Q: Did the sector/field match your academic area? 
The field exactly matched my academic area as Service Engineer at first and my responsibility was to carry out the installation and maintenance of the offset printing machines. After a year I was promoted to Assistant Manager-Sales and Service and that is when my journey into the sales sector got started.

Q: What lessons did you learn from the first job?
A: To anyone, the first job always opens the door to a lot of learning opportunities. I got to use my theoretical knowledge to resolve technical problems. Moreover, I learned how to execute work in a team, handle stressful situations and deal with customers in effective ways.

Q: Tell us about your entry into the automobile sector. 
A: After working for three years in Beesants Trading, I decided to join the Kathmandu University School of Management (KUSOM) for MBA with a specialization in Marketing. After graduating in 2006, I got a chance to work at Toyota Nepal (United Traders Syndicate Pvt. Ltd.) as a Marketing Manager. Being a Mechanical Engineer and having a passion for Automobiles since childhood, this industry is a perfect match for my profession.

Q:  It’s been 15 years since you started to work in the automobile business. What major achievements were there for you professionally and personally?
A: Experiencing these remarkable 15 years in the field which I am passionate about itself is a major achievement in my life. Joining Toyota Nepal was an important breakthrough for me in the automobile industry of Nepal. Working in Hyundai Nepal for more than a decade gave me a broader perspective of the industry and let me utilize both my engineering and management know-how.

Getting introduced to international standards, and having worked with encouraging leaders and cohesive teams, I believe I had substantial progress in the automobile industry. However, there are many areas I can explore and learn in this industry which I am looking forward to while working with GWM Nepal (VG Impex Pvt. Ltd.).

Q:  What changes you’ve observed in the automobile sector in terms of market competition and career development?
A: I have witnessed a significant development in the automobile sector over the last decade. Competition has become fierce with the entry of almost all popular global brands in the market with a wide range of quality products. Customers have plenty of choices nowadays. Dealership infrastructure, whether it is in sales or service, has become more customer-oriented with top-class facilities and well-trained staff.

Automobile companies were not the preference of people with good/high qualifications back then. It was not considered a dynamic sector to have a career, particularly in sales and marketing. But the scenario is different now, we find talented people at all levels and major roles in automobile companies. Those people who started their careers in the automobile sector 15-20 years ago are now holding good strategic positions in reputed automobile companies. The main reason for this is the extensive growth of the automobile sector and the modern-day management style practiced by them.

Q: As a professional with almost two decades of experience in marketing and sales among other areas, what factors do you think can have a positive impact on the growth of young people looking to build their careers in the field of marketing and sales?
A: Marketing and sales is an area in business that has a lot of variations, challenges, and uncertainties. At the same time, it is the main driving function of any business. As it involves a lot of dealing with people, one needs to develop good interpersonal and communication skills with a vibrant personality. With the constant change in socio-economic values, consumer preferences and digital disruptions, one has to be creative and innovative to sustain. Moreover, in the current global scenario of competition and agility, one has to have resilience and a learning mindset to move forward.

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