‘To reach the top, start from the basics’

Jun 12, 2017-Having started out his career as a junior assistant at the Nepal Bangladesh Bank in 1995, Ashok Sherchan has worked for various other financial institutions, including the Nepal Bank of Shillong (NCC Bank), KIST Bank and Prabhu Finance. Now the CEO at Prabhu Bank, Sherchan oversees the bank’s extensive network across the country and its 1,400 employees. In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Sherchan talks about managing a large workforce, motivating employees and his management mantras. Excerpts:

Having merged with various financial institutions in the past, how has Prabhu Bank managed to retain its staff and motivate them? 

It was challenging for us to reach the position we stand in today. There is a hardworking team behind us that has made Prabhu one of the most successful commercial banks today.  Over the years, our bank has merged with nine different financial institutions. Currently, we have over 1,400 employees at Prabhu Bank. When employees from nine different organisations work together for one single company, they are bound to feel confused at the outset. Everything becomes different for them including their work station, environment, colleagues and managers. It is a difficult task to make adjustments. Initially, it was difficult for us to deal with so many new employees at the same time because not many people were familiar with our rules and guidelines. Motivation was a major factor because, if a few employees were highly encouraged to work, others weren’t very engaged. Many lacked speed and enthusiasm. To avoid conflict at work, we have tried to tailor-fit work and departments according to our employees’ interest. We try our level best to give them their space at work. We give them responsibilities according to their capabilities—internally and externally. When everyone is engaged at work, it helps people develop better traits personally and it is of professional benefit for the company as well. 

A job in the banking sector is viewed very positively by fresh graduates. Any call for vacancies usually gets thousands of applications. What does Prabhu Bank look for in incoming employees? 

Our priority while hiring a candidate for any position is their academic excellence. Of over thousands of applicants, we filter them down to a small number depending on the requirement and the job position. Prabhu has branches all over Nepal and we try to see if the person is willing to work outside their comfort zone or not. The other attribute we look for is how strict they are with time. Prabhu Bank appreciates those who can learn the art of time management. Working in the corporate sector, time management is essential. If you don’t value time, you’ll end up losing your productivity. The other crucial part is that the candidate needs to be flexible and they should be open to working in a team. During the interview we also look at other qualities such as their personality, presentation, presence of mind and attitude. Candidates are chosen and scanned according to these factors. 

As a CEO of Prabhu Bank, what kind of challenges do you have to negotiate with?

Challenges are never ending. However, the challenges that I am facing right now is a shared one. Almost all the CEO’s in the banking industry can relate to me. There is a crisis of skilled manpower. The expectations of the customers are increasing by the day and it is difficult for us to fulfil their expectations. Customers now need everything automised and fast. They need proper services in just a click, which is a major hurdle for us. Nonetheless, we try to cater to their demands because without customers, we are nothing. There needs to be better training institutions, which will help candidates gain experiential learning.  

Your company commands a large workforce. What are the keys to managing a large number of employees? What does the bank do to motivate its staff and ensure retention?

Prabhu Bank has over 140 branches all across the country. We have them in both remote and urban areas. Over the years, what we have been trying to do for our employees is to organise various kinds of programmes—monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and yearly. Today’s youth are very insecure about their future and as an employer, it is our responsibility to show them the right path and counsel them when it is needed. Our bank believes in equal participation and distribution of work. At a time when there is low retention in all commercial banks, it is important for us to always come up with something special in order to retain our best employees. As an employer, it is my duty to give them the assurance that their careers are in  safe hands. 

What kind of leadership skills should a leader possess and what are your management mantras?

Leaders should always follow participative management style. They should be a team person and should be a good organiser. I believe that everything depends on the team—bottom to top or top to bottom. A leader must give equal value and have an unbiased judgment about their employees. A leader should always be fearless when they have to tackle challenges. They need to protect their employees like their own family. 

What advice do you have for fresh graduates, who aspire to join the banking industry?

Today’s generation lacks patience. They need to have a learning attitude. In a competitive world, you cannot pretend to know everything when you don’t know anything at all. You need to be outspoken, confident, witty and creative. Even if you fall down, you need to get up without noticing who is laughing at you. If you can maintain that, you’ll never stop evolving. These days, everyone wants to lead a shortcut life but this kind of life amounts to nothing. Start from basics to reach the top. 

Published: 12-06-2017 09:45

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