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“Confidence is the key to success” is the motivational quote that Rashmi Pant, the Chief Operating Officer of Prabhu Bank Ltd, often shares. The young banker believes women need to have immense self-confidence to disrupt the gender boundaries that have been hindering their progress. “We should be able to decide what to do. We should have trust in ourselves,” Rashmi says.

Born in the town of Mahendranagar in the Farwest, Nepal, Rashmi had to change schools frequently as her father was in the government service. “Since my father was a government officer, we used to move with him wherever he was transferred,” she says, adding that she had changed schools 13 times by the time she completed her secondary education. She did her high school in her hometown itself, and came to Kathmandu to enrol at VS Niketan College for her BBA. She completed her Master's degree in Business Administration from Kathmandu University School of Management (KUSOM).

As a child, her aim was to work with social organisations like INGOs or UN agencies. To fulfil her dream, she started working with the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). Since 2014, she has been actively involved with National Youth Federation Nepal (NYEF) where she supports activities related to youths.

Until then, she had never thought about making a career in the banking industry. After completing her MBA, Rashmi wanted to pursue a doctoral degree. She started looking for universities but intake was about six months away. So, Rashmi started looking for something to engage in for six months and came across Prabhu Bank’s vacancy notice for management trainees.

“I was free and felt I should utilise the time. So, I decided to apply for the vacant position,” she recalls.

Impressed by her performance in the interview, the management offered her an officer’s post instead. She accepted and joined Prabhu Bank as a business planning officer.

“My perception was that banking jobs are monotonous. So, my plan was to quit the job after some time and pursue my PhD,” she confides. But as fate would have it, she dropped the idea of pursuing PhD for the time being and continued working in the bank.

Rashmi, who joined Prabhu Bank as a business planning officer, climbed the corporate ladder very fast holding leadership positions such as head of corporate affairs, head of human resources and chief of corporate planning officer. At present, she serves as the Chief Operating Officer of the bank.

She worked for strategic framework development, digitisation, building relationships with stakeholders, managing corporate affairs, and involved herself actively in planning, monitoring and supervising various banking mechanisms.

Rashmi, who has completed seven years in the banking industry, feels that the growth opportunity and the trust that the management has shown on her are the major achievements in itself.

"There are many people who have experience of around 20 years or so. But the trust of seniors, juniors and colleagues that I have been able to win is the greatest achievement," she says, adding that this is the time where people value knowledge instead of age or experience.

Rashmi shares that entering the banking sector was much easier for her. The general challenges such as showing competency, extra effort, dedication and growth aspects are always there. However, Rashmi asserts that she didn’t have to face such a particular challenge for being a woman. She says that the team in the bank was really supportive and cooperative which has made it much easier for her to work.
As a self-confident woman, she believes that women entrepreneurship is thriving in the country. But she feels that women need to have support from partners and family members to grow further. “There are people who still judge women on the basis of their gender. But we should be able to ignore such negativity and focus on our work,” she adds.

As a working woman, she feels women have to manage family obligations and responsibilities and move ahead. “I do not mean to say that we should leave all our responsibilities towards our family. We should be able to manage time and work according to our priority,” Rashmi added.

Stating that family support is important, Rashmi says women must push themselves forward too. It feels good to see women of this generation have developed a lot of self-confidence and are pushing themselves to get out of traditional mind-set, she adds. “About 49% of the staffers in our bank are women and I can see this confidence in them too,” Rashmi shares.

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the entire world -- not only economically but psychologically too. According to Rashmi, her bank staffers were also affected psychologically. Being in the leadership position, she had to take care of her staff members. “The effect on the financial and business side was there. But on the other side, people were also feeling low and depressed. We had to take care of our staff members as well,” she informs. During the pandemic, Rashmi often counselled her staff members over the phone and Internet.

Rashmi commends the government’s policy of providing collateral-free loans to women entrepreneurs. “Banks are doing their part. They are providing collateral-free loans and encouraging women entrepreneurs,” she adds.

When asked about the hassles that entrepreneurs face while applying for such loans, Rashmi said that her institution was trying to make the process as easy and smooth as possible. “The administrative process was a bit troublesome initially as it was new for the banks as well,” Rashmi says, adding: “Our teams are reaching the doorsteps of such people and approving their loan applications.”

Rashmi also clears misconceptions that banks are not interested to provide collateral-free loans up to Rs 1.5 million. “Rs 1.5 million is the maximum amount that banks can lend. We provide the loan as per the requirement so that the fund is not misused,” she says. “This way, the bank as well as the client will not have to face unnecessary risk and burden.”

Despite her busy schedule, she is also involved with different non-profit organisations like Mirmire Foundation and different youth clubs of the Far-West where she has been helping people to provide scholarships, build libraries and donate clothes and books.

Pant considers her father as an ideal person in her life and adds that she has always followed his footsteps. A straightforward person by nature, she says that she got this trait from her father. “His struggle and the success he achieved has always motivated me. His decision-making ability has encouraged me to take straightforward decisions in my life,” she adds.

She says that the ability to take straightforward decisions and handle people by understanding their psychology are her major strengths.

Rashmi loves travelling, and watching movies or documentaries to relieve stress after work.

The young banker always brimming with confidence aspires to become a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) someday.

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