“I learned to develop myself as a leader from the first job”

For Bodhraj Devkota, CEO of Mahalaxmi Bikas Bank Limited, the last 25 years have been about professional excellence. Starting his career in banking at Nepal Bank Limited, he went on to become CEO of Mahalaxmi Bikas Bank which is one of the largest development banks in the country. In between, he worked at Citizens Bank International for 14 years.

In an interview with the HRM, Devkota talked about his entry into the banking sector, the lessons he learned, and his advice to fresh graduates and young bank staff for successful career growth. Excerpts:

Tell us about your first job. 
Immediately after completing my MBA from Tribhuvan University, Kirtipur, I got an opportunity to work as a Deputy Manager (8th level managerial position) at Nepal Bank Ltd. I was placed at the Regional Office Nepalgunj. I joined the bank in 2053 B.S. at the age of 26. I was appointed as the Head of the Internal Audit Department and I got the job through an open competition.

How difficult or easy was it for you to get the job at that time?
It was my first attempt to get a job in the banking sector which resulted in success. Candidates were required to have the first division in MBA or master’s degree in Economics. There were four vacancies available for that job and the competition was very tough. I passed the written examination and was selected for an interview. A total of eight candidates were selected for the interview. I still remember that one of the interviewers was the late Mr. Mohan Gopal Khetan, a renowned businessman and Director of the bank at that time. I was also successful in the interview securing the first position for the job. Getting a managerial position job at a first attempt in the banking sector without having any prior work experience was really amazing and challenging at that time.

What challenges did you face after joining the job? 
It was the first day of my job as the Head of the Internal Audit Department of the Regional office and I was a fresher with no work experience. But all of my subordinates were experienced staffs who were in banking for over 10 years. Initially, it was a challenge for me to lead such a team as a fresher. There were two employee unions and almost all the staff members were associated with them. I decided not to be involved in any unions which was really a challenge for me to work without the association at that time.

Was banking your area of interest? What lessons did you learn from the first job?
Yes, of course. Based on my academic area, the banking sector was my area of interest. I learned to develop myself as a leader from the first job.

What major achievements were there for you professionally and personally?
I got the opportunity to work in different departments within a short span of time. After six months of working in the Internal Audit Department, I went on to lead the Credit and Human Resource Department. There were two regional office-level employee union committees. As a Head of the Human Resource Department, I had to deal with the employee unions that were very active at the time. As a beginner working in different fields and garnering experience was one of my major achievements professionally and personally.

How was the banking sector job when you join Nepal Bank?
There was a limited number of banks at that time; besides government-run banks, there were a few joint venture banks. So, there were limited jobs available and getting a job in the banking sector was a scarce opportunity.

How did you manage to climb the corporate ladder to reach the top?
I have always adhered to honesty wherever I have worked over these years. Similarly, learning new things about the job and connecting with people have been the other important aspects of my career as a banker. So, it would be safe to say that by focusing on these career aspects for the last 25 years, I have been able to climb the corporate ladder to reach the top. For me, it is about being honest with yourself and striving to become a better banker every day without losing enthusiasm and motivation.

As a professional with 25 years of experience in banking, what factors do you think can have a positive impact on the career growth of young bank staff?
Based on my experience, result-oriented working behavior, learning attitude, adaptation skills in a team and calculative risk-taking behavior are some of the important factors that can have a positive impact on the career growth of a young bank employee.

What advice on do’s and don’ts would you like to give to young graduates and bank staff in order to achieve success in their careers?
Fresh graduates and young bank staffs should gain thorough job-related knowledge and develop personal relations focusing on the scope of the job. They also need to be honest on the job, develop flexible behavior while working in a team, and develop a problem-solving attitude. I further suggest they should avoid responsibility transfer behavior and try to avoid workplace conflicts as much as possible.

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