--By Sujan Tiwari
Sashi Raj Pandey, CEO of Shree Investment and Finanace Company Ltd and President of Nepal-India Chamber of Commerce and Industry is busy these days preparing for approaching merger of Shree Finance with Bank of Kathmandu. Pandey started Shree Finance in the year 1994 and after 20 years of operation, the company is going to be merged with Bank of Kathmandu along with two other financial institutions.
“I want to successfully handover Shree Finannce to Bank of Kathmandu. I think this is my child, and I am where I am because of my depositors’ faith in me. I have to carry out the safe transfer of the deposits,” says Pandey. According to him, Shree Finance is going to be merged with Bank of Kathmandu along with Nepal Express Finance Limited and International Leasing and Finance Company (ILFC) within the end of 2014. Pandey hopes to be in the Board of the newly formed bank, and wants to share his expertise. Shree Finance has already received the Letter of Intent from Nepal Rastra Bank and signed the MoU with Bank of Kathmandu for the process. “After this, Bank of Kathmandu will probably become one of biggest banks with the capital of 4.3 billion rupees,” says Pandey.
Before starting Shree Finance, Pandey worked for the government for about 20 years. He started his career as Section Officer (Technical) in Ministry of Transportation in 1972. He got promoted to Under Secretary, and was later appointed as General Manager of Nepal Transit and Warehousing Company. He worked there for about three years and resigned from government job in 1994.
“I left the government job because the standard of bureaucracy was deteriorating, and I didn’t feel like working for government. I had a lot of offers to go abroad but I didn’t take them,” says Pandey. He was inclined to do something in the country itself. That was the same time when economic liberalization and market economy were popular terms and finance companies were just starting in Nepal. When Pandey started Shree Finance, it was the 21st finance company to operate in Nepal. It was started with the capital of ten million rupees. Today, Shree Finanace has a paid up capital of around 200 million rupees.
Pandey was born to Late Govinda Raj Pandey and Lalita Pandey in Dillibazar in 1946. He went to St Xaviers School, and appeared in SLC exams from Padmodaya School. Pandey says he was a very sporty child and liked to participate in various sports. “I concentrated more on sports rather than studies, still I never failed in any subjects,” recalls he. He was also on the national cricket team. He did I Sc from Amrit Science College.
Pandey’s forefathers were all in civil service and service in palace. His father served Ministry of Foreign Affairs for about 25 years, and was Acting Secretary of General Administration Ministry when he retired. So as a young man, he thought that he would be also in the same line of work. When his father was transferred to Russia, and he went along with him. He did M Sc in Mechanical Engineering from Friendship University Moscow in 1971. He returned to Nepal in 1972 and joined Ministry of Transportation. In 1981, he received another Masters degree from MIT, USA.
A deeply spiritual man, Pandey is associated with Art of Living Foundation and is in the Board of Art of Living Nepal. He is also the Immediate Past President of Art of Living Nepal. “In my early days, I hated godmen and holy people. I used to think they were all phonies, but my wife was very spiritual and wanted me to change my thoughts,” says he. He wasn’t even deeply religious back then.
One day, when he and his wife went for a morning walk, he saw an advertisement of course of Art of Living. His wife insisted him to join the take the course. The couple went for the course, and Pandey was impressed by the discourse there. “The course consisted of pranayam, yoga and there were preaching that made sense to me. The essence of the teachings there was to live in the present, and I liked the teachings,” recalls Pandey. On the last day of the course, Founder of Art of Living Foundation Ravi Shankar was also present. Pandey was impressed by his simplicity and personality.
The same evening, there was a programme of Art of Living in Soaltee Hotel. After the programme, Ravi Shanker was meeting all those who were present and Pandey was also in the queue. When his turn came, to his surprise, Ravi Shankar hugged him. “When he hugged me, I felt like current passed through my body, and there were tears in his eyes. I told him at that very moment that I was all his. From that moment, I am his ardent disciple,” says Pandey. It was in April of 1999. After that, he was an avid follower of Art of Living Foundation and Ravi Shankar.
In 2003, formal Chapter of Art of Living was established in Nepal, and Pandey was personally nominated as the President by Ravi Shankar. He had the responsibility of managing the organization and spreading the message of Ravi Shankar. “We used to bring in teachers from India back then. Now we have more than hundred Nepali teachers in Art of living. There are district offices in six places in Nepal, and more than forty thousand people have completed the course,” says Pandey.
“If you want to have a smile on your face, I urge everyone to be spiritual. Spirituality teaches you contentedness. You let go of greed and lost and all other vices. Spirituality helps you in this,” says he. According to him, spirituality starts from where logic ends.
Pandey married Urmila Pandey in February of 1972. Pandey believes that there is a woman behind every successful man, and he believes his wife is that woman for him. “She is my inspiration and motivation in everything I do,” says he. The couple has a son and daughter Adarsha and Kanchan.
Pandey loves to watch sports on TV, especially football and cricket. He gives time to his family on holidays, and goes for shopping with his wife and goes for outings. He is also interested in gardening. Travelling is another hobby of his, and has travelled extensively. He has been to almost all the countries except those in South America and Australia. He has plans of travelling there as well. “I don’t believing working overtime. Nobody stays overtime in my office unless it is very necessary,” says he. He doesn’t go to parties very often, and attends essential ones only.
He says he was very short tempered man before, but it has come down by more than 95 per cent, thanks to Art of Living. “Though I am in a very stressful job, I have learnt to keep my calm, and Art of Living has taught me that,” says he.
Pandey says that people either repent for the past or worry for the future and they forget to enjoy the moment that they have. “I am strictly against this. I live in the present moment; I accept future as it unfolds. No one can plan for the future as we don’t know what is going to happens even a moment from now. I want to enjoy in the present moment,” says He.
On management, Pandey says he believes in participatory management. “You have to let your employees know what is required of them, and you have to believe in teamwork. One individual has no place in any organization; it’s all about the team work,” says He.
A surprising thing about Pandey is that he has no personal secretary. “Anyone can walk in my office at any time. I believe those who work with the public should not stay inside closed doors, their doors should be open to all,” says he. Pandey dislikes those who have two sets of standards.
According to Pandey, success is what others perceive of you, real success means to be content with what you have. “I am contented with what I have. I am satisfied with my job and family, and I consider myself successful for that,” says he. He says that he doesn’t ever want to get retired. “I am 67 now and I am still active. I don’t want to degenerate myself by living a retired life. I want to live an active life as long as my health permits,” says he.
No matter how powerful you are, Pandey advices never to take the law of land into your hands. “Success is directly related to transparency and working lawfully. If you maintain these two things, you will be successful,” advices Pandey.