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Anil Shah

Get involved:Anil Shah,CEO,Mega Bank

Stepping out of the comfort zone and trying to work within the system is the formula for success, he says. Unless you work within the system, you will not succeed and once you learn to work within the system the success is yours,says Shah.


A household name in Nepal, Anil Shah, in his own words remarks: “Loves change, thrives in change.”


In fact, change has been the mantra of his living. As a kid, he went to seven different schools in Nepal and India, then he left for Washington for his college; when he came back to Nepal to do something, he found himself working for a Walt-Disney production movie.


But this was just the beginning of changing environment and places for this budding young star, who attributes the experience and outlook gathered in all those years to molding him into a superb entrepreneur and one of the best suited people to live in a country like Nepal which is currently going through a revolutionary change.


When he first set foot in the banking sector, Anil Shah joined Nepal Grindlays Bank which would later become Standard Chartered Bank in an assisting position with a starting salary of Rs 3,500. Later, he became the head of Consumer Bank and Chief Operating Officer there. Yet again, change was his calling and he moved from Standard Chartered Bank to Nabil Bank and became the CEO in one year. In his five years as a CEO in Nabil Bank, the institution saw unprecedented success and it became the number one bank in Nepal.


Right now, he is the CEO of Mega Bank which according to Shah has brought inclusiveness from the root itself in a ‘practical’ and ‘ideal sense.’ He says that the bank has now twelve hundred promoters spread over sixty three districts and investment worth Rs 1 million to Rs 10 million mostly from people of middle-level families.


Being a successful entrepreneur or a businessman in Nepal is not everyone’s cup of tea, according to Shah, “When you are doing business in Nepal, complaining and blaming the conditions won’t do you any good.”


Stepping out of the comfort zone and trying to work within the system is the formula for success, he says. ‘Unless you work within the system, you will not succeed and once you learn to work within the system the success is yours,” says Shah.


Citing an example from his own experience to support his argument, he adds, “I have not invented any wheels by myself, I have taken out different wheels from different places and put them in proper places and I have succeeded. If you want to be one step ahead of your competitors, you must be able to learn from others’ mistakes and successes.”


His experience spans several years and his philosophy of leadership is that if the institution or the team he headed were a band or an orchestra, he considers himself a conductor. He explains he has succeeded because he has believed in his orchestra and everybody who played the instruments in an orchestra knew how to play their respective instruments better than him. His job was to bring all of them together and deliver the result by coordinating them. According to him, as a leader, there are only three things one should focus on, “First, understand the person you are working with. Second, understand the work, the task and the time you want to deliver. Lastly, determine what leadership style you want to follow to complete your goals”


To the entrepreneurs who are starting off and are in Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s), Shah says, “From banking side, this is an opportune time because we are completely over-banked in a classical market. Top businesses have 28 banks running after them so you have to find a new market and that market is SME’s. In Nepal, every house has at least one shutter and each shutter has a SME. If you are an SME then the time is ripe for you, because it’s time for banks to search for new markets.”


 “We have to get involved and talk, because if we continue to stay in the sideline, we don’t have the right to say others have not done well. We should be involved not against anyone but for our voice to be heard,” he says.


Shah says he loves Nepal because he sees everyone happy. “Everyone is smiling all the time even when they have to walk six hours on foot to fetch water or when there is a lack of medicine even for diarrhoea. This is because our satisfaction is too low, we have the highest mountain in the world but we summit too early.”


According to him, unconsciously or consciously, we always have an inferiority complex with our two big neighbors. “We go for our study in India. We go there as a tourist. We even go to die in Banaras. But as soon as we return from India, we start calling them bad names. But I am very happy to see the young generation who are thinking differently and positively.” To Shah, the best minds of Nepal can still serve Nepal now by going overseas. Not only is money flowing back as remittances but also the skills and expertise. British Gurkha can be cited as classic example of this, he contends. “Nepal will pull those skilled Nepalis back only if we can put the act together and make a sound political environment here in the country.”

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