Patience and Perseverance
Jul 3, 2017-For someone who initially started out in the banking industry and served there for a long time, Ashok Khadka has been able to transition into the insurance sector seamlessly. Having worked for banks such as Nepal Investment Bank, where he led branches in Birgunj and Janakpur, and at the corporate department at Prime Bank, Khadka is today the Deputy CEO at Nico Insurance—a company where he believes he has finally been able to carve a niche for himself. But regardless of where someone works, Khadka believes that if you enjoy your work and spread positivity, you will feel right at home. In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, he talks about switching careers, the key to good leadership and his management mantras. Excerpts:
You started your career with banks before transitioning into the insurance sector. Tell us about that transition.
Banks and insurance companies both fall under the financial sector, although, both of them have different end goals. The insurance sector is much more technical than the
banking industry. I started working in the banking sector from an
assistant level and I always aspired to work at places where I am given the room for growth and ample of opportunities to learn from my experiences. I have enjoyed my time both at banks and at insurance companies. I believe that one should always enjoy themselves, regardless of where they work. It is important to enjoy yourself and spread positivity. The environment of the workplace depends on the vibes you spread.
In your long career you’ve worked and led various teams at different organisations. What are some qualities that all leaders should have?
There has been a marked shift in the kind of leadership qualities we studied in school and the style that the employees expect from leaders today. When I was an employee, things were different. For instance, back then, if an employee was going through a difficult phase at work, people kept it to themselves, worried about the repercussions of opening up. Now, things are a lot different—employees are more transparent. They are confident about themselves and keep things as open as possible at work. It’s not just considered good to speak out, but it is almost expected. Tapping into this openness and transparency, I have learned, is crucial for a leader, regardless of the sector they are working in.
In my perspective, the key to being a good leader is in understanding that one cannot dominate their employees but learn to keep them happy. That’s what I try to implement here. You cannot bully or disrespect your employees. I always try to persuade my employees that the organisation is their second home. The way you are comfortable on voicing your opinion at home, the same should happen at work as well. If you get your co-workers to buy into that idea, it becomes a win-win situation for the both the employees and the organisation.
As a Deputy CEO of an insurance company, what are some of the challenges that you have to negotiate with?
Insurance sector is a connector for the government, the market and the investors. For the past few years, it has been a challenge finding quality employees. A lot of bright talent is migrating, leaving the unexplored opportunities here in Nepal untapped. As an employer it is unfortunate for us that we have to select candidates for jobs even when we know that the selected candidate is undeserving for the position. We have to choose from the best among the worst. It has become obvious that there is scarcity of educated workforce in the country. However, we try to hire the best MBA candidates, train and invest resources on them. If you invest in your employees, the investment will one day bear fruit for the organisation itself.
What are the keys to maintaining a large workforce in an organisation like yours?
Currently, our insurance company has more than 30 branches all over Nepal and has more than 230 employees. The credit to our success goes to the employees who have put a lot of effort in creating this thriving venture.
In order to manage a large workforce, it is very important to push your staff and motivate them in every possible way. The competition is getting tougher everyday and because there is a scarcity in manpower, we need to try our level best to retain our employees. Our organisation rigorously trains our employees and introduces various campaigns to polish their skills and leadership qualities. I believe that everyone has the capability to become a leader but it takes a lot of patience and perseverance to become one.
What are your management mantras?
The only management mantra I know is that when you win the heart of your employees, you can win over the world. There is a lot of effort and hard work that goes into winning their hearts and it is an ever evolving task. But if you triumph that, you will gain a kind of self-confidence to go and conquer any problem. This comes from the assurance that your team is a hundred percent behind you in whatever challenge you take on.
What advice do you have for fresh graduates wanting to join the insurance sector?
Like I said earlier, there is an acute shortage of qualified employees in Nepal, even though there are so many opportunities. Insurance is one such sector where there are so many resources and opportunities that are yet to be explored. It is undoubtedly a wonderful sector for students to dip into. It is professional, fruitful and empowering, yet at the same time not as structured and monotonous as other financial sectors.
Published: 03-07-2017 08:20