Roshan Koirala is the Chief HR Officer of Nabil Bank with a multitude of experiences in general banking and Human resource management. Maintaining almost three decades of an impressive career in banking, he credits his hunger for knowledge and inquisitive nature helped him get the job in the first place. He trusts people who can bring something other than meeting the minimum requirements to the table.
Brief Overview of Roshan Koirala
He is a firm believer in hard work and thinks there is no replacement for it.
When being asked how would he introduce himself to a common man his first response was that he is a common man. Perhaps that true because Roshan Koirala is a known common name in the banking sector in Nepal.
With fifteen years of experience in general banking and 11 in the human resource department, Mr. Koirala currently works as the Chief Human Resource Officer of Nabil Bank Limited.
He has a total of 27 years of experience in banking where he has handled responsibilities over several sections of banks such as cash, remittance, customer service department, HR, central credit, and more.
He has been with Nabil bank since April 1993 and now has managed to circle back to HR after overseeing various departments. He is also actively involved in training and developing the workforce.
Mr. Koirala who started his banking career with Nabil and now 27 years later, is still with Nabil.
He says that Nabil is a wonderful organization where one can get opportunities to move onto other organizations as well. He then adds that his love for Nabil is the major reason for being in Nabil.
Mr. Koirala who did his Master's in Australia told us that he loves to listen to music and cricket is his favorite sport. His hobbies are traveling, reading books. He loves basking in the sun and eating peanuts during winter days and teaching as well.
Interview session with Mr. Roshan Koirala
We happened to know that you come from a Science background, can you share with us how you landed up in a banking job?
People are much more career-focused now. Even 8th 9th graders know what they want to become. When we passed SLC we didn't know what we could become. We had very little information. We had no access to the internet. Even photocopier places were not easily available. Coursebooks were not available. And then students with good marks at that time had no other option other than science. I was one of those students which is why I joined Science. The horizon about career paths wasn't wide as it is now back in my time. So more or less we didn't know what we could become. I wish we had the much-needed flexibility to choose what one wanted to pursue back then.
The reason I had chosen Science is that, if you have studied Science then you can teach anywhere in your free time since you know Maths, Science, Optional maths. I was also partly involved in teaching. When I was studying my friends informed me about a vacancy in Nabil Bank. I had an account in Nepal Bank when I was studying in college where my father would deposit money monthly. Cashing cheques would take hours by then. I was never attracted to the banking profession. Banking was never considered a glamorous job. Even with the vacancy at Nabil, my friends filled up the form since I didn't know anything. I wasn't prepared for the exams. My exam center was at St Mary's. And one of my colleagues who had studied in St. Xaviers told me to go for the exams because that way I'd have at least been for exams in St Mary's. I used to live in Baneshwor and the exam center was in Jawalakhel. So I got on the bus coming from Bhaktapur. And while I was giving my exam I tried not to get demotivated over some lady’s words about how they might have already selected the candidates and this whole exam is just a formality. I thought I wasn't going to pass the exam. I am thinking I'm just here to sit for exams in St. Mary's at that time. When I saw the question pattern, there was GK, Mathematics, Grammar, English, and essay.
The advantage that we had as Science students at that time was that Science was the only subject where English was mandatory. So I think Science students had a comparative advantage. In the Nepalese context, mugging up essays was the norm. The focus was not on creativity at that time. That's how it was. Hearing that now might be surprising. I didn't go to check the result. One of my relatives who used to work in Nabil Bank told me that I had gotten selected. I had a hard time believing him. But he wasn't lying. Afterward, I went to the bank and found I had indeed gotten selected. He asked me what my thoughts were about banking to which I replied I don't know anything and my process of applying. And even with the provided opportunity to work for a bank what if I don't learn anything.
He then said I could terminate in six months but I just need to tell the hiring manager that I'm a student of Science. They asked me questions about general aptitude and so on. I answered. I don't know how it went but I got selected. So that was the journey. By some luck, I came to the bank. But my friends who had studied Management didn't get selected. In retrospect, I don't think my selection was because of some luck only. I believe the credit for my selection success goes to a Wisdom magazine filled with so much knowledge and information that I would read every week. That was some continuous learning I did myself other than the coursebooks. The magazine had sections on logical reasoning, Mathematics. I now realize that I was learning gradually at that time. So I think my continuous learning paid off for getting selected in Nabil Bank.
Do you think HR is an underrated department of an organization and deserves more recognition?
HR can't be said that it's underrated. In the context of the Nepalese economy, how many big corporations do we have? If one person has started a business then they are likely to be looking over several departments by themself. They will be the CEO, marketing manager, HR manager, accounting manager, admin manager, and everything else. They become a multi-tasker. And as the business grows then they are going to struggle to oversee every aspect of the business and so might think of hiring someone to do some particular job. Say they might feel like hiring an accountant to do the finances or an HR officer for the HR work. So this phenomenon also has to do with how we do not have big corporations in Nepal.
Our economy isn't big. We do have some corporations but not in the number that the HR fraternity isn't underrated. We don't have an overseas presence. Our Nepali market is very small. We haven't been able to expand internationally. So this is why not a lot of firms or companies even have HR. They don't have an HR department but they still do have the recruitment process, training process, and so on. The same person is multitasking various departmental roles. Even though the HR department doesn't exist, HR functions are still being carried out. Thus, because of these things, maybe HR doesn't get the importance it deserves. Moreover, something needs to drive HR such as business. And, HR needs to align with the goals and objectives of a business.
HR strategy is always linked with business strategy. The business strategy is the driver. Business is the bread earner. HR is for the benefit of the employees and that would make it a cost factor of the business. So if the investment in your business cannot make a good profit then that would leave HR behind. So there needs to be sync of HR and business strategy then HR can work tremendously well. So HR by itself cannot make bread and butter. But HR is the area that can enable, energize, and motivate people for generating more bread and butter.
How do you measure success, apart from your title and almost three-decades-long experiences? Do you believe Nabil Bank specifically has a major role to play in your success?
There could be something that could make you proud. There should be several Wow moments. I had some of them. We can find success in simpler things in life. I was completely raw before starting my banking career. I was someone who didn't know the ABCD of banking and now 27 years later I know so many things that Nabil bank taught me. I specialized in Finance in my Masters but now I oversee HR and Nabil bank has a huge role to play for me to teach about HR. All the contributions to mold and shape to bring me where I am today was made by Nabil Bank. The thing here is you will be causing effects on the bank and vice versa. I made the effort. I pushed myself and the bank pushed me further, and that's how you move ahead. If you have a positive attitude and learning ability, I assure you that every raw person in Nabil bank can become a great leader in the future. That is the environment that the bank has. So recently we have only got some lateral hires in the senior position but historically the people to reach the higher positions in Nabil Bank were from the inside who joined for entry-level jobs and grew to the top over time. That was the culture Nabil Bank has so far.
So I measure success by my contentment at the end of the day over the work I have done throughout the day. If I feel like I have done justice to my work then I count that as my success. I don't go for the longer timeframe. I had many wonderful moments. There is the time pressure too. The thing is everybody loves success. The process for success to come to you is difficult. If we look at the mythological stories, whenever someone wants the blessing to achieve something big they would go into years of voluntary self-mortification. And then gods would be pleased by their dedication and would grant them the wish to have unique powers etc. so in the same way, success comes only with a lot of hard work. For example, if you want to have a six-pack, you need to immerse yourself in the gym sweating and training every day for 2-3 hours. If you want abs then you should work hard for it. So hard work and pain give you success. Banking jobs are not easy either. I have experienced working late hours. There are days when I have skipped lunch. Your past performance determines your career progression and the probability to take future responsibility. Your performance and potentiality get you a promotion. I still feel like I have yet to achieve a lot but looking back now I am content as a professional.
What is your advice to students who aspire for a banking career? Also, can you share some tips that can help them to get their dream banking job?
Whenever I have asked freshers and recent graduates who have applied for a banking job why they want to work in a bank, they reply that they pursued BBA and MBA to work in a bank. But think of all those who come out with their degree in Management, do they all become bankers? How many vacancies will be there in 27 banks? So like I mentioned before, success doesn't come in isolation, or by luck. You have to have hard work and lots of painful moments. If you want to be a banker you should be prepared. In the present context, people barely have time to read newspapers. Even when they do make time for it, they tend to be occupied with issues/news that doesn't align with career goals. For an instance, if you want to be a banker it's not going to help you if you are obsessed with politics and invest all of your time in it. It's better if you go over the economy section and read about remittance and finances and so on.
When you read the news that is relevant to your subject choice, as an inquisitive person you start thinking, posing questions, and further digging which can make you learn a lot of new things. And one needs to take some time off for the digging and perhaps note down in their diary too. Going over your written notes helps in memorizing once you revisit the past. So to work in a bank the first requirement would be to meet the minimum criteria. While your educational background, it's not always the toppers who are best performers on their job. Candidates should be able to practice what they preach. The internalization of education is the key. Say, you scored 10 out of 10 in an essay you wrote about anti-smoking and then go on to keep smoking then what's the point? It's important to be practical. You need to have a positive mindset. A Person's character and positivity can take them to great heights. People who always complain don't do any work. You should be prepared for some sleepless nights as well. Ridiculous determination is also necessary often.
Is there room for one’s creative freedom in banking?
Our banks are highly regulated. We are managing the funds of regular people so we have to be highly regulated. We are a service industry. There are creative opportunities. Banks are in operational risk and market risks. There has to be some sort of discipline. There certainly is space for creativity for maybe in some form or order so as not to create risks.
Are you happy with the current banking structures in our country? What changes would you make based on your observation?
Banks are merging for a while now. Banks aren't market-driven. Unwanted stocks need to be observed. Do we need all these banks in Nepal? Banks' reach needs to increase and not their numbers. Transformations seem to be a requirement in banks. The digital transition is a must.
What are your approaches towards maintaining diversity and further achieving inclusivity within your organization?
We hire based on the capacity of a person. We don't particularly focus on inclusivity based on religion, age, etc. this is because we make money first, and only we can pay our employees. Along with that, people of different backgrounds whom we have hired have been provided with challenging job opportunities. Especially in times like we are in now, we have been able to carry out different programs for employees' well-being. Working every day can be monotonous so we don't discourage our employees from taking leaves because we believe they can come back with more energy and increase productivity. We have medical facility provision for our employees and their family members.
Nabil bank has 34% female representation. There are a lot of women in the senior management team. But due to the societal pressure which is more on women workers, most of them don't get to reach top positions. Women are told to prioritize family. The gender ratio shrinks as the workers move up the professional ladder. If we look at the last few hirings, the candidates are almost 50/50 male-female but the ratio breaks once they move up the ladder. The societal pressure on women is the problem. The responsibility of working while also managing households is more on women. Say a member in the family is ill and both husband and wife work somewhere and it is expected of the wife to leave her office sooner to look after the sick person. Which is why women with high potential and acumen are likely to get discouraged as they move forward in their career. The gender ratio shrinks when it comes to the management team.
How have you incorporated technology to deliver better HRM functions in Nabil Bank?
We are 37 years old. We have people from different generations such as radio generation, tv generation, and internet generation people. Radio generation people are retiring. They are not much more IT-oriented. Senior people used to have their security to write their email. That situation has changed now. In terms of incorporating technology in HRMs then, the database system came to excel and afterward to HRMs. Even in HRMs there used to be only basic payroll management, attendance management, leave management. Whereas now entire employee activities can be covered through performance appraisal 365, appraisal performance management system, computer-based intranet system, HR activities in the mobile phone via different applications. Now we are on the path of having devices compatible with apps that have features such as showing pending jobs and other HR-related functions. If an employee needs any information about them then they have to go to HR and ask for it. So the future I have envisioned is each employee having access to the information by the said information being available to them via their devices. In the future I want employees to be able to access their daily performance to see what is required of them for improvement.
Where do you see HR 10 years down the line in Nepal?
So gradually ten years down the line, the performance management might become obsolete if technology will be able to replace it by capturing all the activities of all the employees by integrating human resource management with other software such as banking software, customer relationship management software further integrating with training and management software. All information will be with the employees. This way they will know to what extent they have received training, how much sales and marketing they made, their performance. On the other hand, the current technology might go obsolete in a few years and something new might come. This is the thing about technology. Everything might become automatic which is already the case in many different parts of the world such as automatic attendance, automatic salary distribution. Automation will likely be the future. Traditional training might take a shift towards microlearning and online training. Manual jobs will be few. I see a lot of AI in the future and chances of paradigm shifts.
Mr. Koirala is positive that HR has a lot to offer to candidates with potential.
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