Strategic Management and the Making Of A Manager

22 August 2018, Kathmandu

Nischaya Subedi is a Consultant Strategic Manager. He is a mechanical engineer with an MBA. Subedi specializes in service marketing and branding.

He is a result-oriented professional with more than 15 years of extensive experience of working in Nepalese Corporate Sector especially in the service sector in the areas of general management, strategic service management, operations management and technical management for several top big business houses of the country.

He has had extensive exposure in a range of management areas, which include leading and managing entire organizations in areas such as strategic planning and execution; training staff on managerial, technical and engineering aspects; international corporate relations management, international procurement, service design, operations design, HR management, Installation of MIS based computer systems to manage operations of organizations; handling national and international communication/emails for an organization.; project management; construction management, top management reporting and presentations.

Nischaya Subedi (NS) subedi spoke to Managing Editor AK Vanprasthi (AKV) about himself and strategic management, and various other management issues in the Nepalese corporate sector. Excerpts:

AKV : How come a person like you with an engineering background got involved into management in the Nepalese corporate sector ?

NS : It is quite an amazing story to describe. I had always dreamt of being in the Nepalese corporate sector since I was a child. I even recall that I used to play games related to being in office when I was a child when I would make my musical keyboard a typing pad and my cassette player as a computer screen and pretend I was typing something and doing some great work.

I opted for science stream based on my good marks in SLC. But my destiny was calling and shaping things. While I  was doing my BE in mechanical engineering,  some of my great idols as professors such as Mr. Amrit Man Nakarmi (Former GM of NOC) and Dr. Pramod Bahadur Shrestha encouraged me to tread the managerial path with their excellent courses and their guidance in our TQM based thesis work.

I knew I had to do an MBA after my BE. But it was only after 5 years of working in hardcore engineering field that I could save enough money to do an MBA and with that I never looked back. Since doing my MBA I have always handled middle and top management positions Thus,  my childhood dream has been fulfilled.

AKV : What was your mission at the start of your journey in corporate sector and how has it changed as time has passed?

NS : This is a very good question. I still remember that at the start of my career I was eager to leave a mark in the corporate sector and my vision would always be that I could manage or lead my organization to the number one position. But I found out, and deeply realized, that this was all bull shit. (Laughs….)

An organization is a group of individuals and you have to interact with those individuals effectively. You have to talk, you have to laugh, you have to share, you have to communicate so you can form a great team. It is that team which makes an organization great.

After realizing the importance of team work, my vision and mission has always been to collaborate with all the individuals who have come from different backgrounds, reduce the differences, create a great team and achieve the vision of the organization.

AKV : Describe the generally practised strategic management models in Nepal.

NS : As far as I have seen in Nepal, the type of strategic management models being used in Nepal are those which were invented may be in the 1980s and 1990s , such as Porter’s five forces model to analyze industry attractiveness and use of general BCG matrix models to analyze business portfolios.

Just recently I had the priviledge to study the portfolio analysis of a very big institution and I was surprised that they relied on simple models such as BCG matrix to analyze their business portfolios. This may be due the reason that most businesses in Nepal have yet to fully mature and diversefy in products and services and have a great number of portfolios like global companies such as GE, P & G, Unilever etc. Therefore, they do not feel need to use complex Strategic Management models such as Blue ocean strategy or GE Mckinsey Matrix Models etc.

AKV : What do you think is the impact of Nepalese culture on Strategic Management?

NS : There is a very funny incident that happened to me which taught me much about  the impact of Nepalese culture on Strategic Management.

I found out that most managers a decade ago considered using the strategy of “sam” (verbal appraisal), “daam” (monetary incentive), “danda” (punishments) and “bhed” (a kind of blackmail with learning Secrets) to manage the organization which is heavily influenced by Nepalease culture which largely follows Hinduism and Chanakya (author of famous book on diplomacy and management : “Chankya niti”). Many of my managers openly introduced the secrets of strategic management this way to me.

Even today the impact of these principles of strategic management are time tested and used by those managers who have yet to learn global principles of strategic management or have just favoured Chankya rather than Micheal Porter or Peter Drucker or Tom Peters (Laughs…..)

AKV : What do you think is the current scenario of leadership and management in the Nepalese corporate Sector?

NS : This is probably the most fertile period in Nepalese corporate sector when most of the top corporate players have got extremely competent CEOs and subordinates. Most of the CEOs in Nepalese corporate sector have at least got an MBA from the top Nepalese or foreign institution.

In most of the prestigious organizations that I have worked, I have found that they place emphasis on training and development of their employees either by bringing international consultants and experts or by sending their employees for short training to countries like India, China or ASEAN countries.

Due to this practice, the competence of the manpower has increased ten folds from what it was more than a decade ago when I started my career. We all now have a global perspective about leadership and management. This perspective, combined with our formal management education, has provided us with  a global update about the kind of strategic plans and policies we need to devise to work effectively in order to compete in the global arena.

No wonder now even Nepal and Nepalese are looking into global domination which can be exemplified by how a top Nepalese conglomerate is now expanding globally and is also flexing its muscles to reach markets in neighbouring countries. Nepalese professionals are migrating all over the world to work as professionals and are becoming global citizens.

We have a lot to do in terms of management and leadership in the times ahead. But the most positive sign is that the stage is now set for working together based on timeless management and leadership principles due to massive development of management and leadership based educational institutions in Nepal.

AKV : Identify prominent changes in strategic management during the last decade.

NS : I am optimistic for the coming days. However,  I also see that strategic management is yet to completely realize its potential in Nepal so that we can aspire to compete effectively with domestic as well as international organizations.

Two problems can be observed immediately : lack of properly devised vision and mission by top management, and lethargy in allocating adequate time and resources to realize that vision and mission.

Most organizations I have seen don’t even have it even on paper what their vision and mission are and how they intend to implement the vision and mission in achieving organizational goals. Due to this, most of the strategic management vision, which is a long term vision, doesn’t get implemented and the organization would just like to go with the flow and go on with “situational management” rather than proactive management.

Strategic management is about proactive management and it is only after much suffering that you start to think properly about the future. Thus after much problems faced by organizations in Nepal due to situational management, strategic management is finally getting some importance and people like me are finally getting recognition and consulting work for it.

AKV : What services or products have you handled in the corporate sector?

NS : I have had opportunity to handle a really very broad range of products or services. I started career as a lecturer for engineering colleges.  I am also an engineering expert in a number of products like air-conditioning system, automobiles, motorbikes, trucks, buses, heavy equipment, etc. I possess thorough understanding of after sales service management.  I have worked for INGOs and also did consultancy job for a Nepal Government department. Besides, I am also familiar with the management of shopping malls, housing complexes,  high rise buildings and their operations, international procurement and import business in technical sector.  I have a lot of hands-on experience in varied fields, which has really enriched me as a manager.

AKV : How did you get to work in so many fields in just one and a half decade time?

NS : I realized that there are either engineers or managers but it is a rare phenomenon here in Nepal that you have expertise in both engineering and management. It is due to this reason that I get to work effectively in various fields and easily adjust and adapt in various areas in the corporate sector.

AKV : How do you see yourself in the Nepalese Corporate sector?

NS : It is about being honest with what you have and what you really are.  I have always felt it inside and promoted myself as a versatile, multi-field expert who can adjust and adapt in all areas of management and can perform effectively to integrate all functions of management.

This is also the demand of our time in Nepal, where employers are looking for employees with multiple talents in the top positions. When you start your journey in the management sector you start in a specific field such as marketing, HR, administration etc. But as you go up the management ladder, you have to handle issues of all fields and thus a multifaceted exposure is demanded by the employers and this can only be happen by being versatile and working in various sectors.

AKV : To what do you attribute your success?

NS : I am humbled by what I have been given and how I have stood on the shoulders of the giants to reach where I have reached today. I am always grateful to my parents, my childhood friends, my school teachers, my visionary professors, the leaders and management experts who have mentored me and who have given me the confidence and guidance to reach where I have reached today in Nepalese corporate sector.

AKV : If you have a piece of advice for someone who is just starting out in Nepalese corporate sector,  what would it be?

NS : Make your own future on the base of your own dreams. Some people like to start and make their own companies and some would like to lead others’ companies to success. Both are OK, in their own right.

Create and become part of things that are bigger than yourself. Nobody is going to give it to you; you will have to earn your place in this world. There are no guarantees of success and certainly there will be a lot of setbacks. In order to be big, you have to take calculated risks and you have to trust your instincts and prepare to jump ships if your job doesn’t feel alright. You will find out that nothing great just happens by itself and you have to take the initiative. Keep on looking for what you have always wanted. “Stay hungry, stay foolish”, as Steve Jobs said.

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