“The work environment and culture has changed a lot from the time I got my first banking job”

Kiran Kumar Shrestha, CEO of Rastriya Banijya Bank Limited (RBBL) is one of the senior-most bankers in Nepal. Shrestha has 35 years of experience working in the banking industry. Starting as Assistant Manager at Nepal Bank Limited (NBL), Shrestha climbed up the corporate ladder of the bank to become General Manager of the bank. He was a key member of the reform process of the NBL carried out with assistance from the World Bank. Shrestha is the second-ever CEO appointed through open competition at RBBL. The HRM Magazine caught up with Shrestha to talk about his career graph, his first job, experience learned, and advice to young professionals planning to enter into the jobs. Excerpts:

What was your first job? How did you enter the job?
I started as a teacher. I was offered to join the job as an accounts teacher soon after I completed my intermediate level (now higher secondary). My educational background in accountancy and business education helped me to get the job.

Was it easy or difficult for you to get the first job during that time?
It was not very difficult for me to get the first job. There was a requirement for an accounting teacher in the school from which I completed my intermediate-level studies. Soon after, I was offered to join a job in the school which I accepted.

What were the major challenges you faced during your first job?
I got the job in the same school from which I had completed my high school. Some of my students were my classmates from grade 10 and the age difference between me and other students was very less. Initially, I was a bit hesitant to take the class and teach students, but later on, the hesitation reduced and things became normal.

What was your educational background? Did you enter the same sector/field that matched your study/degree? Or the first job you did was different from your degree?
By the time I joined my first job, I had already completed my intermediate level studies (now higher secondary) with business studies as a major subject. So, it would be no wrong to say that my educational background, which was related to accountancy and business studies, matched with my first job as a teacher of accountancy. Later, I completed my bachelor’s degree in commerce and masters in public administration. I entered the banking sector as an Assistant Manager in Nepal bank limited on 2043/5/1 which again matched my educational background.

What were the major lessons learned during your first job?
The importance of continuous hard work and self-confidence in any endeavor is the biggest lesson I learned during my first job.

What were your major achievements in your first job, if any?
I had to study a lot on the subject matter assigned to me. I learned teaching techniques and interactive skills from my colleagues and seniors. At the same time, interacting with students and teaching them was a nice mutual learning experience.

The young professionals are often impatient. What is your advice to aspiring youths planning to enter the job market?
These days’ young professionals are overambitious and look for quick results. However, in reality, due to constraints like competition at the workplace, complexities in organizational structure, emerging rules and regulations, etc such dreams are rarely achieved in the short term. My advice to young professions is to go for long-term career planning before entering the job. Though being ambitious is not undesirable, the same has to be coupled with realistic goals, consistent hard work, and integrity.

The banking sector is one of the most sought after by young professionals. What are the major preparations one needs to do while entering the banking sector?
Banking is one of the most attractive sectors for young professionals in Nepal as well as globally. A young aspirant needs to focus on sharpening knowledge and skills while entering the banking sector. Knowledge of banking like conceptual clarity on banking business and processes, national and international banking scenario, challenges and opportunities, banking rules and regulations can go a long way in helping aspiring professionals to enter the banking sector. However, skills like communication skills, interpersonal skills, analytical skills, problem-solving, and stress management skills are also equally important to be a successful banker.

How good is the Nepali banking sector in terms of employment, salary and perks? How receptive is the banking sector to young professionals planning to enter banks and financial institutions?
Banking is one of the most attractive sectors in the country in terms of employment, salary, perks and other benefits compared to other sectors of the economy. Nepal is a growing economy and economic growth provides an impetus for the growth of the banking sector. Besides, the need to reach the unbanked 35 percent of the population will lead to a massive expansion of branches and banking facilities in the future which will create job vacancies for aspiring professionals. Furthermore, Industrialization is still in its primitive stage in the country and the agricultural sector is largely traditional. Reforms in the areas of industry and agriculture will provide additional impetus for the growth of the banking sector creating additional jobs for the new aspirants.

How do you think the work environment and culture have changed in Nepal from the time you got your first job? Is it easier for those entering the job market who have mentors and a structured environment to work compared to your time?
The work environment and culture has changed a lot from the time I got my first banking job. Nowadays the banks are more IT-focused, the management approach is more participative and new entrants are likely to get better mentors as compared to our days. Besides, more qualified people are entering the banking industry which has also increased the intensity of competition in the job market. Further, new rules and regulations have made the industry more regulated and structured. Thus, new entrants are likely to face different types of opportunities and challenges compared to the time when people of my generation joined the job market.

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