Suman Pokharel: Remittance company model might be simple, but it holds emotional significanceChief executive officer of International Money Express on challenges he tackles as the top leader of a growing remit company
In his 16 years of career, which started in 2003, Suman Pokharel has worked in institutions such as Global IME Bank and Dish Home Network. Currently, he is the chief executive officer for International Money Express (IME), a title he has held for the past seven years. Along with his role at IME, he is also among the board of directors of Global IME Bank, Dish Home Media, IME Motors and Smart Choice Technologies. In this interview with the Post’s Alisha Sijapati, Pokharel talks about the challenges he has to negotiate with as the CEO of the company, about being a good boss, and juggling multiple roles. Excerpts:
You’re involved with various organisations apart from IME. How do you multitask and stay abreast with all your business interests?
My expertise lies in remittance. As the CEO of IME Group, I oversee all large-scale projects and entities. At IME Group we have hard-working members in every entity, which makes work a lot easier for me. If you have put in the effort, have a strong system in place, then work will never be a burden.
People involved in the remittance industry often complain that retention is a big problem, yet your business is sustained by remittance. How do you reconcile between these two facets of out-migration?
For the last 20 years, due to political instability, our economy wasn’t doing well and the only major contributing factor to it was remittance. At the present stage, if we take a look at the country’s political status, many political and economic issues have been stabilised. Many start-ups have been mushrooming and the corporate sector is ready to offer jobs with open arms. Yes, migration is a global phenomenon and people will migrate. We cannot do anything about that. We cannot expect people to live in the same country for a long period; how can we expect them to survive in the same organisation for years? It’s the age of globalisation now. We cannot stop migration. India is currently the number one recipient of remittance in the world. Remittance mostly has more positives than negatives. It increases the quality and standard of life of those living in a third world country. Remittance has multiple impacts that are mostly positive. What we as a remittance company can do is be a convenient facilitator for our customers.
What does your organisation do in order to retain and motivate its employees?
Our company is growing and our focus is on branching out to diverse markets. And while climbing the ladder of growth and diversification, human resources will obviously play a vital role. We need good and qualified people. We hire, provide training and invest a lot in our employees. If we invest in them, they will invest in us. It works both ways. We are transparent and we aspire to be transparent. Retention is a problem but I believe our employees have been happy with us so far.
As someone heading such a large organisation, what are some of the challenges that you have to often negotiate with?
Our market, in general, is not very mature. Our business practices are not that efficient, which leads to unhealthy competition and practices. These are a couple of challenges that we face at a broader level. Like I said earlier, people are constantly moving from one place to another—whether it’s within organisations or countries. And because of that finding the right human resources is difficult. It’s difficult to find good people and retain them. So, we have to develop good ethics and morale within the company to keep our employees for a long period.
As the remittance industry is service-based, what does IME do to develop better customer service values?
When I started working for the remittance sector at Everest Remit early in my career, we were technologically challenged. Communication was indeed a daunting task—the only means of communication was either through fax or telegraphic transfer, an electronic method of transferring funds utilised primarily for overseas wire transactions. Sometimes, it took over a month for international transactions to complete. Looking back, in the last decade alone, technology has drastically changed our lives—personally and professionally.
Because of technological advancement, remittance transactions can now happen within minutes all over the world. It has made work much easier, faster and convenient. The sector has really evolved over the years. From manual to digital, things have changed for the good. If earlier people had to stand in a queue to receive or send money, now they can do it in a few minutes because everything can be done via the internet. IME has its presence all over the world. We have a bilateral relationship with international companies. And because we have gotten past technological challenges, the remittance sector has evolved particularly in helping migrants.
Remittance, in general, are for migrant workers who travel to an unknown destination in a bid to give better lives to their families. This whole concept of sending money from abroad to the family brings in a lot of emotional values. It’s because of their emotional values that our customer values have enhanced. All we have to do in our end is to make everything simple and convenient for both the sender and the receiver. As a remittance company, our model might be simple but it holds a lot of emotional significance.
What advice do you have for fresh graduates who want to join the service sector?
You need to constantly put in an effort to climb up the success ladder. Young, sharp and fast learners have opportunities everywhere but you need to learn. You need to learn and unlearn things every now and then. All the sectors are growing and there is a huge demand for human resources. Keep yourself updated and stay grounded. Nothing comes in a golden platter; you need to work hard for it.
What do you think?
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