Confident and bold yet calm, Pratima Manandhar, the Executive Director of Image Channel has established herself in a male dominated corporate sector inspiring young women who are trying to break the glass ceiling. After completing her schooling from Brihaspati Vidya Sadan, she graduated from Assumption University in Thailand with a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology followed later by a Master’s Degree. Manandhar reveals to LIVING what motivates her as she delves into her personal life story.
- How did you get to where you are today?
After graduation, I did not want to immediately work for my father, so I ventured off on my own. I sought to build myself and gain experience, so I joined Nepal Investment Bank. I slowly started gaining the respect and confidence I needed before working with my father. Having achieved that after working at NIBL for two and half years, I joined Image Channel which is a family owned business with my father as Chairman.
2.Were you always interested in the media or was there something else you wanted to do?
I grew up seeing my family in the media business and although I was not interested in this field, I understood the need to support them. After joining Image Channel, we launched our website and made progress slowly and steadily. After a year overseeing the IT department, my peers and colleagues pushed me to pursue production of shows. Without experience, I took up a role as an assistant and later I was given the task of producing a show single handedly. To be honest, it was more than I could chew but I learned from it and that made me stronger. I still have loads to learn but it has been a good journey so far. There are many things that I want to do but at this moment of time, I am content with what I have and I am still learning. So I have a few projects lined up for the near future.
3.Was it easier for you to adapt at Image Channel because you were the Chairman’s daughter?
Absolutely not! I was treated the same way as any other employee. My siblings who I work with jumped right into the business after graduation, but I did not. I had this desire to first do something on my own and gain respect and confidence. That way, people will respect you for who you are rather than who you are related to. I was not afraid to take on challenges and make mistakes and that is what people saw in me. I am not just the Chairman’s daughter but a well-respected individual who is working hard for the company. My peers were very supportive and we always tried to do our best.
4.So what were the challenges you faced working in the media?
One of the biggest challenges I faced was when I landed my first big project that I had to conduct on my own. It was a dauting experience. People think making shows are very easy. You have the set ready, camera ready to roll and all things in place, and you just go and do it. How hard can that be right? Let me tell you, when you actually have to do it, it’s a whole different ball game. But I learned from it and gained valuable experience.
5.What is an Executive Director’s day like and how hard is it?
Although it’s a 9 to 5 job, I don’t really follow that strictly, because I am in and out of the office throughout the day. I am sometimes working till 7 or 8 in the evening as well. As an Executive Director, the most stressful thing is the decisions that I have to make. Before, it was someone else who made the decisions and I just followed, but now I am in the position to make them, and I have to take everything into consideration before making one which I feel is the hardest part.
6.Who has been your biggest inspiration?
The biggest inspiration has been my father and my sister. When I was small I always looked up to him because of the confidence and the responsibilities he shouldered and the way he carried himself always fascinated me. He did what he had to do for the family. Similarly, the way my sister was breaking boundaries and moving up in society, I wanted to follow in her footsteps and be someone to rub shoulders with her.
7.How was your childhood? How did you understand what you needed to do in life?
I grew up shy and aloof and I was pampered by my family. I think it was the teenage years. But as I said, I studied in Thailand and that is where I really matured. When I was doing my Masters, I was a Teacher as well. So, I realized how hard reality is. At one time, I used to send 50 CV’s a day. I had to pay my own bills and I did not ask for help from my dad. I wanted to learn and be better. I had to get out of my comfort zone and be somebody on my own.
8.How do you feel as a woman at the top of your field? How has that changed from when you started out?
In the past a woman’s job was limited to housework and looking after the family. But times have changed and women are now capable of doing anything they want. They are not bound by anything anymore. They can do the same things men are doing or even more. This is the time for women to shine, and I am glad Nepal is embracing it. It also comes from how you are raised. My parents always pushed me to be independent and strong. So it starts from your own home before anything.
9.What message do you have for young girls who are trying to break the glass ceiling?
Don’t stop dreaming and make it a reality. It’s all up to you. Do your work and try to achieve whatever you are vying for. Just be you. Don’t try to be anyone else but you.