Anupama Khunjeli, CEO of Mega Bank Limited, is an inspiration for professionals. Khunjeli, who started her banking career as a teller in 1991 at ANZ Grindlays Bank (now Standard Chartered Bank Nepal), eventually rose to become the first female CEO of an ‘A’ class commercial bank in Nepal. There is a lot to learn from her career and her journey. Ashim Neupane of New Business Age sat down with Khunjeli at Mega Bank’s head office in Kathmandu to talk about her banking journey over the last 27 years. Here are the five career lessons that every professional can learn from Khunjeli’s inspiring story.
Be Passionate and Dedicated and Choose the Right Career
Being passionate and dedicated towards your job is necessary to achieve something of significance in your career. Khunjeli advises young career starters to make sure they have chosen the right career path. As they have to start at a prime age, Khunjeli suggests young people to search for a job they are passionate about so they have no regrets later. “I wouldn’t have achieved the success I have achieved today if I was not passionate about banking,” she shares, observing that the innovation and creativity that young people have dies if they are in the wrong profession. According to her, picking the right job is the only way to enhance the creativity and innovation inside you. “You spend your prime age at the office, so if you are not passionate, you will not be able to get the life you desire even if you work hard for it,” she expresses.
It is Never Too Late to Join College
Khunjeli completed her schooling from St. Mary’s School, Lalitpur and moved to India for further studies. She came back to Nepal after her higher secondary education in India to complete her bachelor’s level education from Shankar Dev Campus. Khunjeli then pursued a master’s in business studies from the same institution. However, after joining ANZ Grindlays Bank in 1991, her professional life got in the way of her education. Although having years of experience as a banker, she felt that the lack of a master’s degree hindered her in her professional growth. Khunjeli then enrolled into the Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme at the Ace Institute of Management. After attending evening classes, she used to work till 12 at night to complete her assignments. She earned her MBA degree in 2010. Khunjeli suggests it is never too late to return to education, and it is significant in order to develop your professional life.
Dream Big and Never Give Up!
After working for 13 long years at Standard Chartered Bank, she moved to Nabil Bank in 2004 as the Head of Global Markets. In 2010, she joined Mega Bank as the Chief Operating Officer (COO). As a determined member of staff, Khunjeli was regularly promoted at Mega Bank, and the hard work finally paid off in April 2018 after her appointment as the bank’s CEO. Khunjeli says she gained a vast amount of knowledge from her time at the different banks. From the position of teller to CEO, Khunjeli’s successful journey is a testament to her hard work, passion, determination and sense of belief.
Achieving stability and constant progression in your career requires a steady work-life balance. For a banker, it is very difficult to balance work and personal life as one has to spend long hours in the office. According to Khunjeli, it is important to take a break from the hectic schedule to spend quality time with family and friends. As professionals have limited time to spend with family members and friends, Khunjeli suggests spending any free time with loved ones as it refreshes you and helps you to focus on your work. She takes a break once in a year for a trip, which rejuvenates her and helps her concentrate on her work. “Giving time to the family is a must because without family support it is very difficult to progress in professional life,” she mentions.
Be Confident and Work as a Team
Khunjeli has been a part of Mega Bank since its inception. There were other major banks already in the country, but Khunjeli was confident with the team at the bank. She says she was confident that the bank would scale new heights, owing to the determination of the team. “The coordination and understanding between the colleagues at the bank is amazing. Had there been no coordination between the team, the bank would not have been at this level,” she shares.
Khunjeli suggests professionals work in a team and should always show support to the juniors. On a personal level, she says she also got to learn a lot from the former Mega Bank CEO, Anil Keshary Shah. She further adds the culture of discussion between the management and the staff was developed in the bank from its inception. “Of course colleagues are your competitors, but you need to work in a team to be a successful professional,” she says, adding that it is important to believe in your own ability to succeed.
The Management Mantra of HEART
Khunjeli has long been following the management mantra of “work from your HEART” which she attributes to her professional success.
H – Happiness
Happiness in whatever we are doing is the most important factor of our life. People must assure that they are happy in their professions because they spend a major period of their lives. Happiness in any work is important to remain positive and create a better working environment for all.
E – Engagement Level
Engagement levels in the workplace commands our energy and thought process. Higher engagement levels add to the efficiency and effectiveness in work.
A – Action-oriented
People must make sure that they achieve the set goals professionally and personally. Actions speak louder than words. We must be able to lead the way through our actions and become an example.
R - Relationships
Building relationship in the workplace should be given a high priority because it is among the key factors for success. People should assure they build long lasting, fruitful and trustworthy relationships so that all can cherish the success and be together at times of need.
T – Time
Time is of the essence. So make most of the time available. It is definitely not available in abundance, so utilise every moment. Family provides the most important support, so make sure to create enough time to balance the life.