You snooze, you loseBanking is a challenging sector. What is your secret to managing the responsibilities on your shoulders? How do you cope with and overcome everyday obstacles that come your way?
When Pradyuman Pokharel joined Nabil Bank in 1991, it was an entry level job. In the 19 years that followed, Pokharel worked in several departments at the bank ranging from marketing and credit to treasury, among others.
When he exited Nabil to work for Mega Bank in 2010, he was already an assistant manager.
He then served Mega for six years as a relationship manager and later an assistant general manager, looking over the entire business of the bank. Since 2016, Pokharel has been serving as the deputy chief executive officer at Muktinath Bikas Bank.
In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Pokharel shares his insight on how to run a successful business through quality customer service. Excerpts:
Banking is a challenging sector. What is your secret to managing the responsibilities on your shoulders? How do you cope with and overcome everyday obstacles that come your way?
Yes banking is a challenging sector and comes with a lot of responsibilities, especially when you’re serving in the position that I am. Muktinath Bikas Bank has 68 banking branches and 66 microfinance desks across the country. We are targeting for 13 new branches in the Valley by the end of this year. As the deputy CEO of the bank, I firmly believe in the values of the bank. Both our vision and mission are very well defined and just sticking to them helps me overcome the challenges.
At our bank, we have five pillar models that speak for our top priorities. Our foremost priority lies in providing security to our depositors. The depositors place their faith in us to protect their treasure. Banking is synonymous to trust; hence, we highly value our customers.
Secondly, we make sure that our investors and promoters are satisfied. We work hard and smart to fulfil their expectations as their investment goes beyond finance, they have also invested their trust and belief in us. We offer them with highest dividend returns. To do so, our bank has acquired a unique approach—approximately 30 percent of the investment is contributed to micro-finance and 50 percent of our networks are based in rural areas. We believe that our customers outside the Capital need equal attention. Muktinath has been working to serve those residing outside the Valley. We feel responsible to help these people raise their quality of life through necessary financial aid.
Thirdly, we believe that a friend in need is a friend in deed. We try to satisfy our customers by reaching out to them and offering our service whenever they need us.
Fourthly, we strictly comply by the rules and regulations of Nepal Rastra Bank, and that is one strength that has worked in our favour. The most important and the last pillar is job satisfaction of our employees. We believe that the employees need to be happy at their workplace and take pride in what they do. We expect our employees to take ownership towards their work and organisation. Ownership is eventually followed by success.
Customer service is vital in the banking industry. What measures has Muktinath Bikas Bank taken to ensure customer satisfaction? What sort of trainings and advices are given to the employees to make the service effective and efficient?
The bank is what it is because of the customers, without them we are nothing. This is a realisation that should echo amid not just the front-runners in the job, but also those who are working behind the scenes. It is important to understand that without the faith of customers in us, we cannot survive the competitive market of that banking sector is.
Hence, to ensure good customer services, we regularly organise orientation, training and development programmes for our employees. It is crucial that employees representing the organisation at the front desk are polite and well spoken. They represent the whole bank and the impression they give is capable of making or breaking an organisation’s reputation. These people need to be well trained and extremely qualified.
NRB has made it mandatory that we spend at least three percent of our bank’s income on training and development of the employees. We acknowledge this move not as expenditure but as an investment. If we treat our employees like our family, they will also reciprocate the attitude and recognise their ownership towards the organisation. In fact, the motivation and satisfaction level of the employees will only add value to the bank’s portfolio. To motivate our employees further, we also offer incentive schemes.
As a leader of a banking institute, what kind of characteristics do you think a leader must acquire?
A leader must be at peace, always. When a person is in a peaceful state of mind, they can be more productive and it will help them further think creatively and innovatively. Good head space leads to better understanding of a situation, further leading to better vision and knowledge. A person who comes with access baggage cannot lead a team well because s/he is self-consumed. A leader must be well updated with the surrounding and their pertinent areas, this will help them become a better leader. They also need to be good at human resource management. Any organisation is bound to excel when the leader is backed by a loyal team.
Can you share your top tips for getting better at job?
There is a simple five-letter mantra I follow: HEART for honesty, exercise, action, read and thankfulness. When you are honest and true to yourself, you’ll automatically develop the confidence to lead better and tackle all sorts of challenges at workplace. An honest person always wins, even at the lowest point of his life because honesty is the best policy. Then, you need to exercise to become both an efficient employee and employer. You need to be fit—physically, emotionally and mentally. Thirdly, you always need to be on your toes—if you snooze, you lose. Fourth, read. Read as much as you can, expand your knowledge and make it a habit. Lastly, always remember to be thankful. Avoid arrogance, embrace gratitude and always remember to keep your feet on the ground. If one approaches life with HEART, I believe life will be much easier and happier. When you are content, you’ll be good at what you do.
What advice do you have for young graduates who are eager to join the banking industry?
There are ample and good opportunities coming up, especially now, when the country has embraced decentralised federal system. I believe that a number of branches will emerge across the entire nation, creating abundance of employment opportunities. Always believe in three things: talent, resourcefulness and perseverance. If you have these three things, you will excel in life. Always work towards nurturing and expanding these three dimensions. Don’t run after money and fame right now. If you work hard and diligently, things will eventually fall into place. Money and fame are superficial and transient. It’s the efficiency that will lead you to the top.