HR Meet 2022

A Vision for Change in HR

In what is the only conference of its kind in Nepal, Growth Sellers Pvt Ltd, the country’s leading HR consulting firm, in the last week of April, organized the 14th edition of the HR Meet at the Hotel Yak and Yeti in Kathmandu.

The two-day event held on April 28-29, organized with the theme “Embracing the Change”, was inaugurated by Dr. Bhagawan Koirala, Chief Cardiac Surgeon at Manmohan Cardiothoracic, Vascular and Transplant Center.

The event saw delegates participating in a panel discussion on a range of HR management and corporate topics. The HR Meet was attended by 300 participants representing different sectors including I/NGOs, banks, and government agencies, among other sectors.

The two popular names in the Indian HR realm – Raj Raghavan and Sai Kumar Chandran – were the keynote speakers of the HR Meet. Raghavan is the Senior Vice President & Head of Human Resources at Interglobe Aviation Ltd (IndiGo) and Chandran is the founder of OrbitShift, a business consulting and services firm.
During the two-day event, dialogue sessions and panel discussions on Making DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) Core to Business Strategy, and group discussions were held on various issues related to human resources.

Dr. Bhagawan Koirala inaugurating the HR Meet.

According to the organizer, it has been organizing HR Meet annually to nurture, strengthen and empower the human capital since 2008. “The HR Meet has been able to set a landmark in the HR realm and present itself as one of the much-awaited events in the field of HR. Over the years, Growth Sellers has observed increasing participation, overwhelming response, and enthusiasm,” said Mohan Ojha, Managing Director at Growth Sellers. According to him, Nepal has seen a gradual development in the field of HR management. “We have felt there is a need for the development of the sector. The main objective of the HR Meet is to empower, strengthen and contribute to the HR fraternity with national and international exposure,” said Ojha, adding the responses to the event have been overwhelming.

“Each year we have been receiving overwhelming participation. The young generation coming into the market with their innovation and creativity should identify the change and accept it. In this process the role of HR is significant in such change,” said Ojha.

Every year, Growth Sellers has been bringing renowned national and international dignitaries to the HR Meet, to discuss a variety of topics related to the emerging trends in HR nationally, regionally, and globally.

Addressing the audience, Dr. Bhagawan Koirala said he was happy to see an important event like the HR Meet being organized. “I am happy to see that an important event like the HR Meet is being organized at a professional level for the last 13 years. It is encouraging to see organizations in Nepal realizing the value of management as an independent specialty and starting to adopt best practices that other countries have already adopted a long time ago. It is a matter of satisfaction and I am happy about it,” expressed Koirala.

In a country like Nepal where politics is unstable, and there are a lot of attempted influences from vested interests, it is extremely important to have powerful institutions. We must build institutions as powerful engines of our economy and for the development of science and technology,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Raj Raghavan highlighted the need for HR professionals to have a strong commitment and avoid running away from the problems in order to do something successfully. “Some results can be achieved in a few days. But if you don’t get results in a few days, you can’t say the experiments have failed. Experiments never fail. It gives you some kind of results,” he said.

Mohan Ojha, managing director of Growth Sellers delivers welcome speech

Speaking in the Dialogue Session, Birendra Bahadur Basnet, Managing Director at Buddha Air, said that HR management is something that should be operated from the heart, rather than the brain. “Having said that, there are always a few bad apples in the company, and we should not tolerate that. Also, there should be no nepotism in the organizations,” he opined.

Discussion on inclusiveness in workspace
As workplace diversity has gained more attention in recent years, the benefits of inclusion and equality are numerous, and companies have started to realize the fact, said stakeholders during a panel discussion session at the 14th HR Meet.

“Having a diverse team is a crucial first step, but inclusivity is equally important. It is the key to shaping an engaged and productive workforce,” they said.
During the panel discussion on “Making Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Core to Business Strategy”, stakeholders also discussed about the current status of DEI in their organizations, community.

The panel included Bhumika Shrestha, Transgender woman working as an activist, Suyog Shrestha, CEO at Shangrila Development Bank, and Sudhir Parajuli, President at Subisu Cablenet.

During the session, Suyog Shrestha shared that the discussion has made him think about looking into inclusion and diversity with different perspectives and broaden his knowledge about it to incorporate in his organization. Parajuli also shared that Subisu has a diversified workplace as it has been hiring persons with disabilities.
Likewise, Bhumika Shrestha shed light on the importance of inclusiveness, and urged all to give opportunities to third genders in organizations.

“Maximizing results in any institution come through team building”

Dr Bhagawan Koirala, Chief Cardiac Surgeon, Manmohan Cardiothoracic, Vascular & Transplant Center

When I started my professional life, I had not many ideas about how issues related to human resources are dealt with, how staffs are trained and groomed, and teams are built.

I started in a managerial position when I began my professional career some three decades ago. I had to learn by bits and pieces of training and re-educating myself as I moved ahead. Over these years what I have learned is that it is important to build certain values and principles, gain experience in team building, set up institutions, and help them grow.

A lot of things depend on common sense, intelligence, and commitment to bringing change in what you do. You also need to improve and continuously strive on achieving certain results and remain true to your values and principles.

I am happy to see that an important event like the HR Meet is being organized at a professional level for the last 13 years. It is encouraging to see organizations in Nepal realizing the value of management as an independent specialty and starting to adopt best practices that other countries have already adopted a long time ago.

In a country like Nepal where politics is unstable, it is extremely important to have powerful institutions. We must build institutions as powerful engines of our economy and for the development of science and technology.

I always try to find the right balance between adopting new concepts and ideas versus sticking to the principles and protocols and refining what I have studied.
A lot of times when our mid-level managers try new ideas, concepts and methods in management, and when they don’t get results immediately, they get frustrated and want to change the policy or protocols.

It’s too often that we see policies and protocols getting changed even before the policies are given ample time to be tested. So, I think that’s a question of what’s the right balance between trying to bring changes in policies and institutions versus what the importance of in being consistent, diligent, and giving full energy.

Anything that brings positive change in our society is a science of management. But must use the right ethical, scientific, and transparent tools to bring the changes.
Maximizing the results of any institution has to come through team building. If you work in a sector of your choice, work becomes a game that is joyful, and you can achieve good results, and continue to perform well. Your professional career will progress through a positive cycle. Whereas, if you are forced to do something that you don’t enjoy, you don’t get good results. And yet if you’re forced to work, it’s torture on an everyday basis and you would end up leaving the job.

In an organization, every single individual matter for change and improvement. Everything matters if you’re really talking about quality, refinements and improvement. I think we need to value the efforts and the ability to influence the course of events of everybody in the team.

Finally, there is a ‘health aspect’ to the working environment in any organization. If your working team is great, people enjoy being together, working together for a common cause and reaching certain goals together, you enjoy achieving those goals. I suggest you exercise for 30 to 45 minutes a day. It helps in controlling blood pressure and reducing weight. It is also a part of improving your own managerial ability. If you feel fresh in the morning, your work performance goes way up.

This article is based on Dr. Koirala’s speech at the 14th HR Meet.

“Human resource management should be operated from heart, rather than brain”

Birendra Bahadur Basnet, Managing Director, Buddha Air

Birendra Bahadur Basnet is the Managing Director of Buddha Air, one of the leading aviation companies in Nepal. During the 14th edition of HR Meet, Basnet shared his experience in the aviation industry, Buddha Air’s journey, and human resource management, among other topics. Excerpts:

It has been almost 25 years since Buddha Air started its operation. How has been the journey for the company?
The journey has been really interesting. When Buddha Air started its operation, the company only had one aircraft. Now, the company has 16 aircraft. And we are still planning to add more aircraft to our fleet. Our company’s growth has been dynamic.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has subsided, how is Buddha Air recovering from the impacts of the crisis?
With the easing of the situation, the aviation business has seen a boom. Compared to the pre-pandemic phase, our business has almost doubled. Before the pandemic, as many as 5,000 passengers used to fly with Buddha Air daily. Now, almost 8,000-8,500 passengers fly with us. The growth has been phenomenal, and it’s not just our company, but every other airliner is recording growth.

During the height of the pandemic, you had said that the company’s staff won’t have to face financial problems even when the revenue plunged to zero. How did Buddha Air survive the pandemic scare?
In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic shut the aviation sector in Nepal for eight months. We had a tough time managing it. During the pandemic, we have 1,100 employees. But there were no layoffs, nor forced our staff to stay on unpaid leave. I believe the place where Buddha Air stands today is because of the hard work of its staff. During the pandemic, we survived with whatever reserve the company had.

The aviation sector is such that you need to have skilled manpower in every department. How difficult is people management as Buddha Air has a huge number of employees?
In Buddha Air, there is no place for nepotism. Similarly, every employee has ownership of the company. Every staff member performs their role and responsibilities duly, so there has been no problem for the company. Buddha Air has been motivating and encouraging its employees. Likewise, our transactions are also transparent. With the constant effort of our staff, Buddha Air went to profit five years after starting its operation. Likewise, in its history, the company has only been in loss for two years, that too in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic.

As the aviation industry is a hectic job, given its sensitivity, how is Buddha Air working to manage the stress level of the workforce?
When it comes to extra hours, aviation companies can’t make technical human resources – pilots, ground operation, cabin crew members – work more than the hours set by the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal. The civil aviation authority restricts aviation companies to employ technical teams for more than the allocated hours, and the ground operation team is employed as per the Labor Act. Those in the ground operation team who work extra hours are paid overtime salary.

How Buddha Air managed the human resource over the years?
Buddha Air started its operation some 25 years ago with 30 staff. Of them, 20 are still working with the company. I think human resource management is something that should be operated from the heart, rather than the brain. During the time of a decade-long Maoist insurgency, a sitting minister wanted to establish a union in Buddha Air. And 99.9 percent of employees voted to establish an independent trade union. But after a year, the union went defunct as Buddha Air was providing more salaries and benefits than the trade union was fighting for.

Likewise, after the insurgency, Buddha Air took a loan of USD 100 million from the International Finance Corporation (IFC). At that time, I knew that the IFC used to reject loans to companies that don’t have an employee union. But after IFC evaluated employee service at Buddha, it provided a loan to the company. Again, we are in discussion with the IFC to take a loan of USD 45 million to purchase three aircraft.

After the Covid-19 pandemic, we restructured the HR department, created seven divisions and have been focusing on communications, meetings, and training.

Honoring corporate and HR excellence  

During the HR Conference, Growth Sellers awarded six companies and an individual in different categories for their excellent contribution to the human resource management sector.

This year, Growth Sellers, under the coordination of Prof Dr Subas KC, formed a jury comprising Punya Prasad Neupane, former secretary, government of Nepal, and Bina Rana. The team, after rigorous and tireless efforts, finalized the names of six organizations and an individual.

According to the organizer, Unilever Nepal Ltd bagged the award under the category ‘Excellence in HR Innovation and Technology’. Under the category, Standard Chartered Bank, and Nabil Bank were also nominated for the award.

Similarly, Dabur Nepal Pvt Ltd was awarded with ‘Excellence in Employee Experience Award’ during the ceremony. Nabil Bank and Ncell Pvt Ltd were also nominated under the award category.

Under the ‘Excellence in Learning and Development’ category, Nepal Pharmaceuticals Laboratory Pvt Ltd, Standard Chartered Bank and Surya Nepal were nominated for the award. Nepal Pharmaceuticals Laboratory Pvt Ltd received the award.

Likewise, the award under the category ‘Excellence in Employer Brand’, Dabur Nepal, Ncell Pvt Ltd, and Nabil Bank Ltd were nominated. The award was bagged by Ncell Axiata Pvt Ltd.

Similarly, under the ‘Excellence in Industrial Relations’ categories, Dabur Nepal, Reliance Spinning Mills, and Shivam Cements were nominated. The jury decided to bestow upon the award to Reliance Spinning Mills.

Similarly, the ‘National HR Excellence’ award was bagged by Nabil Bank Ltd. Two companies–Dabur Nepal and Standard Chartered–were also nominated for the award.

Likewise, Sashin Joshi, former banker and group executive director of Jawalakhel Group, was awarded with the “Excellence in HR Leadership” award for his consistent contribution in leadership.

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