SK Tamot, General Manager of General Insurance Company Nepal Lt., has over 50 years of experience in the insurance sector. Although he was not a commerce graduate and had limited knowledge of finance when he started his career, his enthusiasm and desire to learn helped him succeed. Manisha Balami of New Business Age caught up with Tamot at GIC’s head office in Kathmandu to talk about his career, inspirations, education and memorable times of his life.
Born in Bhojpur on August 3, 1946, Tamot completed his School Leaving Certificate from Bidyodaya High School, Bhojpur. He did his Intermediate of Science (I.Sc) from Tri Chandra College,Kathmandu. Likewise, he completed his Bachelor’s degree from Patan College with Nepali, Mathematics and Economics as majors. As a student of science, he wanted to become an engineer. “With this aim, I came here to Kathmandu, but due to my health problems I could not continue,” he explains.
Tamot started his career at the Calcutta-based insurance company, Ruby General Insurance’s Kathmandu branch in 1967. The company later merged with National Insurance, a government of India undertaking in 1971.
“In 1993 there was a surge in privatisation,” he recalls. “I then joined Himalayan General from which my journey in private companies started”. From there he joined United Insurance as a Deputy General Manager for ten years. He had been acting CEO of the company for two and a half years as well. Afterwards, he joined Siddhartha Insurance Co. Ltd as a CEO. He worked there for eight years.
When Tamot started, there was no culture of insurance and there were limited career opportunities in Nepal at that time. So he did not intend to work in this sector. He says that he got an opportunity in an Indian company and later got a permanent position. “So coming into the field of insurance was more of a coincidence,” he adds.
“From the day I started working in finance, I used to do my work with all my dedication, and I was very satisfied,” he says. As soon as he got involved in the sector, he started reading books on management and bookkeeping.
When Tamot began working in the insurance sector, he recalls that people were not aware of it. “It was also difficult to convince people then,” he says. There was a marketing challenge, but today people have become aware that it increases saving and decreases risk factor. Today, the field of insurance is growing. “At the time when I started, not even onepercent of people did insurance, however, today it has grown to 22 percent,” he states.
There is more competition and challenges today. “But with increasing challenges and competition come better opportunities,” he expresses. He claims that insurance has increased the living standard of people.
He regards joining United Insurance and Siddhartha Insurance as the turning point in his career. While working as a deputy general manager in United Insurance, he was involved in the marketing field. Tamot, who started his career in finance, shifted to marketing and then to a technical field.
A Moment to Remember
Tamot says he has enjoyed every moment of his career. However, he can never forget the struggle that he had to face during the initial stages. During 1978, he recalls that a license exam for insurance was not available in Nepal. So he had to go to Patna to give the exam. “We used to go Birgunj and take the train from there. We had to take a bus to Patna and then give our exam and return the same way,” he explains.
“For any individual, family support is very important”, says Tamot. He admires his wife for helping him to focus on his work and giving him the opportunity to work freely. “My wife is my ideal person,” he says proudly. “If she hadn’t looked after the house and relieved me from household chores, I would not have been able to handle everything with this ease,” he says.
Without family support, he says that it would be difficult to move forward. Besides, he says that support from friends and colleagues is equally important for a person to become successful. He considers Krishna Bahadur Basnet, one of his colleagues, as a source of inspiration. Tamot recalls how his friend used to advise him on what is right and what is wrong.
Tamot is a workaholic by nature. He shares that sometimes this nature of his embarrasses him in front of his family. However, he feels fortunate to have an understanding family.
Being dedicated is a management mantra that he follows. Tamot believes that dedication and diligence are very important and says that if a person is not persistent in their work, then they cannot thrive.
Along with this, he feels that staff, as well as customer satisfaction and their support, is important for any company. “The height of success is also determined by this,” he adds.
Suggestion for Graduates
One has to be dedicated in order to be successful, according to Tamot. He recommends that one should work with dedication and in coordination with their team. “Continuity in the work will make us successful, if not today, then some other day,” Tamot says. “Managing a business or company can be simple if there is teamwork and a collaborative effort from the entire staff”, he adds.
The insurance profession is growing and there are greater opportunities in the sector. “If we can properly utilise this, then it would be advantageous for the country as well. It can also be beneficial for the economic growth of the country,” Tamot concludes.