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Anupama Khunjeli: A trailblazer banker

Anupama Khunjeli: A trailblazer banker
Quick facts Born on 14 Nov 1970 in Kathmandu  Went to St Mary’s High School, Lalitpur 

Graduated from Shanker Dev Campus; post-grad from Ace Institute of Management 

Joined banking sector in 1991 as a teller  Wife of Dr Rabindra Khunjeli  Mother to Swastika Khunjeli  I have always had a competitive streak in me. I was into sports from a young age and I wanted to be an athlete. During my school and college days, I used to compete against boys in sports like squash, badminton and tennis. I studied accounting at my high school in India. The only reason I chose accounting was to avoid studying other subjects like history. And that’s how I ended up in the banking sector. I started as a teller at ANZ Grindlays Bank, now Standard Chartered, in 1991.  I was still a college student at Shankar Dev Campus then. I worked there for 13 years, as a teller for most parts of that duration until I earned a double promotion. After gaining considerable experience of working in a bank, I went on to join Nabil Bank, where I spent six years. I joined Mega Bank in 2010 as the deputy general manager and chief operating officer. There, I quickly rose through the corporate ranks, becoming the general manager and deputy CEO. In 2018, I was appointed the bank’s CEO. I was the first female bank CEO in Nepal.  Female CEOs are still uncommon. I was fortunate that the bank’s board recognized my ability and decided to trust me with the job. I am strongly in favor of having more women in leadership roles, be it in the banking sector or any other institutions. Our society still does not fully approve of women working long hours. When it comes to a job, there are still societal barriers for women. Many families bar their daughters and daughters-in-law from pursuing independent professional careers. They would rather see their daughters and daughters-in-law taking care of household affairs. I strongly believe that women should be given the liberty to choose and follow their careers.       I know I got lucky on this matter because both my parents and in-laws were supportive of me. My mother-in-law herself was a working woman and she was happy to see another self-employed woman in the house. I am where I am today because of that woman-friendly environment at home. And I wish for the same loving and nurturing environment for other girls and women. It is the only way to really empower women. Women are expected to be good housewives as well as great professionals. Such dual expectations are never made for men. Women are able to work and advance till mid-management, but since they are expected to look after their family as well, they are overworked and unable to advance further to the leadership position. If a woman wishes to work on her career, I say she must be allowed to do so. Let her decide for herself what she wants out of her life. I believe in hard work, something I learned from my family members and my career. If you want something, work for it, and when you have enough to show, you demand it. To accomplish something meaningful in your career, you must be committed and passionate about your work. If I didn't have a strong passion, I never would have accomplished what I have now. Choose the right career path, where you can develop your creativity and originality. If you are not passionate about what you do, your hard work will not reward you. Lastly, I want to say that it’s never too late to join college. When I started working for ANZ Grindlays Bank in 1991, my job interfered with my studies. Despite years of banking experience, I felt that my ability to advance professionally was hampered by my lack of a master's degree. So, I decided to apply for an evening MBA program. I used to work in the bank during the day, attend my evening classes and stay up until midnight working on my college assignments. That’s how I received my MBA and qualified for promotion. Hard work can get you to the top, but you must be willing to fight for it. No one is going to hand you what you want on a platter.  About her  Abhinav Narsingh Rana (Brother) My sister has a pleasant personality. She deeply respects other people. She believes she can get inspiration and learn from them. Professionally, I think, our father influenced her and me. A former agriculture secretary, our father took his job seriously. She is bold and competitive, who never hesitates to take on challenges. Anil Keshary Shah (Colleague)  Anupama is one of the best bankers that I’ve had the pleasure of working with. We started our banking career around the same time, so, in a sense, we grew up as bankers together. She was my supporter as well as a competitor. I have always admired her ability to grasp even the most complex technical skills and excel in them. Along with being a banker of the highest standards, Anupama is also an exceptional friend, an amazing mother, spouse, sister, daughter, and daughter-in-law.  Kishori Shah (Friend) We have been friends since our school days. Even if we communicate after a gap of a couple of years, it doesn’t feel like we are strangers. I have never seen her in an angry mood. She has a bold, vocal and extroverted personality. She is also a perfect entertainer. It never feels boring to talk for hours with her.