Business Head – ICRA Nepal
Barsha Shrestha, the Business Head of ICRA Nepal feels she is a good observer and learns a lot from her observations. One of her biggest drawbacks she thinks is the fact that she didn’t continue her education after completing her studies in Health Science. But she is an achiever and fondly recalls her mother’s reaction, “When I entered my mother’s house and told her that I had become the General Manager of the bank, she exclaimed, ‘Kun saahit ma janmey chau chori!’ she was so proud and happy.”
“I started working from a young age, and my father used to constantly ask me why I was working. I started on my career in 1983; probably you weren’t even born,” she laughs. She was a medical student and worked with Prasuti Griha Maternity Hospital for about a year after which she began her journey with Nabil Bank in July 1984. She started as a teller and was going through numerous training procedures. Only six months after enrollment, she was promoted.
Also known as Mrs. Nabil Shrestha, she giggles, “I worked in the bank till the end of May 2008. Though I left as Privilege Banking Manager after 24 years in banking, I also got involved in other departments. I loved my work; I was passionate about it especially when it came to dealing with customers.” While in Nabil Bank, she was mainly involved in customer service along with handling branches, operations and credit, and then later moved to marketing. “Marketing was more like handling high network customers,” she reveals. “It was interesting yet very tiresome and stressful, as pleasing the customers and holding on to them was not an easy job. So it was a long way, but I enjoyed my work.”
Then in 2008, Barsha moved to Clean Energy Development Bank (CEDB) as the first woman general manager in the private sector banking. She says, “There I had a different role looking after the entire banking system. It was a good platform for me as I had moved from a commercial to a development bank and honestly, there were many issues on my plate. The bank was in its initial days and there were many policies to be developed – interacting with NRB, coming up with policies within the bank, new ideas and because we had a joint venture with FMO (Dutch Development Bank from Holland) we had to follow their policies, taking in their ideas and at the same time, CEDB was focused in financing renewable energy. So it was a vast area for us and financing in hydropower wasn’t that common or any kind of renewable energy in those years, so it gave me good exposure.”
“I believe in destiny and I feel it will eventually take you to where you belong and also drives you through certain changes,” she explains. “Nabil bank was like home, everything was good but then I realized it was enough.” A sense of ownership and responsibility kept her on the job. But since she had groomed her team and they could easily take charge of the work, she knew it was time to move on.
“What drove me to CEDB was that this banking area was new for me and it was like starting over. I had to do everything from scratch as the bank had just established itself and it was a new challenge. That feeling got me more energized,” recalls Barsha. Transitioning from a well established bank to the first page of CEDB, nothing really disturbed her. She says, “When I had recently joined the bank someone asked me, “Barsha, are you okay?” Little did they know that she was excited and energized to work in that bank.
As they say, all the late nights and early mornings will pay off, she was awarded the ‘Women Manager of the Year’ by Management Association of Nepal (MAN) and also by Civil Voice and ASMAN. “I was the person who went to Berlin and got membership of Global Alliance for Banking on Values, the only bank in Nepal. Even though we were a development bank, we managed to get that membership and it is being continued at NMB Bank. I was traveling a lot and was invited by World Bank in Tokyo for their conference and went to Pakistan for ‘Women in Energy’,” she remembers. Then in 2015 when CEDB merged with NMB Bank, she left the banking industry.
Even after leaving the banking industry, Shrestha was engaged in different activities and also traveled a lot. The corporate world was her cup of tea and she was really tuned to it. In 2018, she joined ICRA Nepal as a Business Head. As mentioned before, she enjoyed her work, meeting customers and being in the service industry. “It’s difficult, as more success means more responsibilities but when you take the job, it’s a part of your responsibility. I am happy with what I do,” she says.
Down to earth and humble, Barsha Shrestha is definitely one in a million. “I like to share my knowledge and my experiences. I like to be a good human being, being nice to everybody and empathetic. I respect everybody because I feel no one should be disregarded and everyone should be respected for who they are.”
Besides her interest in banking and dealing with people, she says, “I like to be in the garden. I like to be with my family and friends and cook for them if possible. I think I’ve had enough of going out; I just like to be with myself and be in the garden or home.”
Looking at what she’s achieved and what she’s doing, she adds, “I had good bosses who were very strict, but I enjoyed it because they taught me how to work. I am also thankful to my parents who taught me to be nice and value everyone irrespective of their job. They were my mentors and those are the things I really appreciated that helped me to be the woman I am today.”