Throughout his professional career, Dr. Khagendra Ojha has seen big changes taking place in management and economics education in Nepal and abroad. The veteran educator, who is a gold medalist in MBA from Tribhuvan University and holds a Ph.D. in Development Economics from the University of Warsaw, Poland, is leading a number of renowned educational institutions in Nepal. Dr. Ojha is currently the CEO of Global College of Management, Chairman of Valley View English School, Global College International, Uniglobe Secondary School, and Kathmandu World School. Started his career in education as an Instructor at the Kailali Multiple Campus he has worked at Tribhuvan University as an Associate Professor for over two decades. Dr. Ojha has also worked at Western Michigan University, the USA as a visiting faculty. In a conversation with the HRM, he recalls starting years of his career and talks about the current state of management and economics education in Nepal. Excerpts:
Tell us about your first job. How did you get into the job?
My first job was at Kailali Multiple Campus (KMC), Dhangadhi, as an Instructor with the responsibility to teach accounting and finance to undergraduate students. At that time, Prof. Dr. Hem Raj Pant was the Campus Chief who decided to offer me the job after considering my excellent academic credentials. Back then, I was studying MBA at Tribhuvan University Kirtipur.
Was it difficult or easy for you to get the job at that time?
I did not face any difficulty to get the job. I was looking for a teaching job and suddenly, Prof. Dr. Pant offered me a job at Kailali Multiple Campus. I was just a BBA graduate. However, I got the job of instructor at KMC which was and is a very reputed campus in the region.
What challenges did you face after you started the job?
Even though I was a good student in my academic batch, I scored the highest marks in I.Com. and BBA levels, and a Gold Medal in MBA later. But I realized that I was poor in English communication, particularly in speaking, which was the only challenge for me that could also come up as a shortcoming while teaching undergraduate and graduate level students.
Did the sector/field match your academic area?
Yes, it did. Teaching university students was my dream and I got that job. It felt to me like I was born to teach and manage academic institutions which I am doing in the later phase of my career.
What major lessons did you learn during the first job?
I learned that we can overcome our weaknesses and be competent through regular practice and hard work. Also, staying true to commitments, punctuality in work, respecting seniors, helping juniors, looking into issues with a positive attitude, teamwork, accepting of own mistakes, and self-commitment to do the best in the future were other important lessons the first job taught me. These are vital factors to progress career and achieve professional excellence and are also important in our personal lives.
What were the major achievements for you professionally and personally?
Working with a large group of seniors and learned people, I got an opportunity to go to great places to practice my knowledge and skills, a chance to realize and correct my weaknesses, and opportunities to learn and act to adjust to a large group of people. All of these have helped to enrich my self-confidence in the academic sector to a higher level and have led me to be gradually recognized in the academic profession, among the academic circles and communities at large.
Having spent a long time in the education sector, particularly in the field of economics and management, what changes have you observed in this sector over the years?
Over time and because of the impact of globalization, many educational institutions, both public and private, have been established in Nepal. Also, going abroad for study and career development has become far easier these days than before. As such, students, graduates and youngsters have plentiful opportunities and far more choices now than before. Nevertheless, at the same time, there are many basic improvements yet to be done in the education sector in Nepal. Therefore, I see a huge scope for stakeholders including the government and entrepreneurs to pay more attention, make attempts to explore, and play their part to reform the education sector for prodigious improvements to take form for the betterment of Nepal.
As an educator who has a long experience working at home and abroad, how do you observe the current state of the management and economics education in Nepal?
The current state of management and economics education in Nepal is not as competitive as at par with the global standards. Our teaching and learning environment, curriculum, and teaching pedagogy are not practice-oriented, rather management and economics education in Nepal is still repetitive with traditional approaches and theory-oriented ‘parrot learning’. That is one of the main causatives that eventually trigger unemployment, less productivity and less economic growth in Nepal. Therefore, there is a huge quality gap in the required and availed education in Nepal. Positively looking into this fact, I see great scope for political or private entrepreneurs to make new ventures on restricting the education sector for quality outcomes in Nepal.
What do you think will it take to raise the standard of our education to par with international education?
The standard of our education can be taken at par with international education provided that politicization in educational institutions is avoided as well as the intervention of a number of vested interest groups in the education sector is stopped. Also, whether it is from the government or the private sector, the scale of investment in education for infrastructure, human resource development and training, research and innovations, need to be increased significantly. This is because education is an under-invested sector in Nepal.
What would be your advice to young students and graduates who aspire to build their careers in different realms of management?
There is an ever-increasing demand for management graduates in and outside Nepal everywhere. They have many options like, whether they prefer jobs in the sectors of their interest or they prefer entrepreneurship, whether they prefer to stay in Nepal or go abroad, etc. What stops them from getting these opportunities is a lack of basic attributes like lack of chosen subject knowledge, lack of proficiency in communication and computing skills, lack of vision or in contrast, a negative attitude, lack of group dynamics, etc. Therefore, I advise the management graduates to work hard and practice regularly for minimizing their weaknesses and improving their competencies as the major and most important tool or solutions among others. Practice, practice and practice is the only way to be perfect in this competitive world. Beyond being a perfect worker, there is not any other shortcut formula for progress and success.