There are not many tech organisations in the country that ensure women are hired, promoted and retained in the firms. However, NePS is a Fintech (computer programmes and other technology used to support or enable banking and financial services) organisation that is ensuring that not only are women hired in various departments but are also promoted to the leadership roles in each department. NePS is a licensed Payment System Operator (PSO) regulated by Nepal Rastra Bank, and a key player in the emerging Fintech industry with technology enhancement and innovation in the country.
NePs has 56 staff members in the office. Among them 21 are women. There are nine departments in the company of which six are led by women. It continues to take various initiatives to promote financial inclusion and is collaborating with various partners to contribute to the vision of ‘Digital Nepal’.
WOW met six women of the NePs team to talk about their career choice. Their responses are captured below:
Chief Information Officer
Prajani has been in the corporate sectior for over 15 years. She is the Chief Information officer of NePs. In her free time, she likes to hang out with family and friends, and enjoys a good show on Netflix with her husband every now and then. She also loves her quiet time getting lost in a good book.
Various global researches have shown that there are very few women in the tech industry and even fewer in leadership positions. What do you attribute this to and what can be done to see more women engaged in fintech?
There are many stereotypes and perception both in personal and professional spheres that act as barriers to women’s career advancement. In their personal space, women are expected to balance their work and family responsibilities and are considered “good women” only if they fulfil their duties as a homemaker. Likewise, in their professional space, they are expected to carry themselves in a certain way. Their leadership traits are often questioned while similar traits in men are often celebrated. Either they are tough or if they adopt a democratic leadership style, they are not considered to be good enough. For such perceptions to change, I believe change must start at home. Parents, family members and partners at home need to be supportive. We need workplaces which recognise the benefits of maternity leave and equal paternity leave which encourages men to invest in their families.
There will be numerous barriers but women should also be courageous to defy those barriers and continue to work towards their ambition. As the author Sheryl Sandberg in her book, Lean In, says: “Even though the halls are mostly full of men and you might be the only woman, but make sure to sit at the table.”
Bandana has a Master’s degree in Business Studies from Tribhuwan University. She started her career with NePS at the assistant level and currently heads the operations department. In her role, Bandana leads the core operations, testing as well as customer services. In her free time, she likes to read novels, watch serials, and hang out with close friends.
What are the skills and expertise one needs to have to be the head of operations in a tech organisation? Are these skills same for everyone or do women need to be equipped with extra skills?
I believe a person who is a head of operations, irrespective of their gender, needs to be able to think strategically, have strong communication skills, understand project management, and have leadership and decision making skills. I also think that having additional skills such as certifications, configuration, SQL go a long way in one’s career. As an Operations Head in a tech organisation, one should also be able to coach employees, answer queries and concerns, and help them navigate basic functions of switch. I believe every leader in a tech organisation needs to have all the technical skills, but as women, I believe, we bring important skills like giving attention to detail and transparent communications that enhance our position.
Priyanka Sharma Neupane
Business Development Head
Priyanka Sharma Neupane is the Projects & Business Development Head. She holds an EMBA degree from Purwanchal University, and has completed Computer Science Engineering from Anna University, Chennai. Priyanka is a jovial person who enjoys a good cup of coffee and reading in her free time.
How can women be encouraged to pursue a career in technology?
One of the many reasons that women tend to veer away from tech roles is the expectation on women for work-life balance, particularly if they have a young family. I believe that if businesses encourage flexible working hours and the option to work from home, they will see a more diverse range of candidates apply for technical roles. It is important for any organisation or employer to break down the barriers and start a conversation that evokes positive action.
Another way which businesses can encourage women to pursue a tech role and a leadership position is recognition through award schemes. I feel we need changes in education system as well as organisation culture where we can have women role models who encourage women to go for the tech industry, making a career out of it. Most women won’t apply for a job unless they check all of the job description requirements, whereas men will apply even when they only check 60% of them. To encourage more women to apply in tech roles, we may have to be specific with our requirements for specific roles.
Information Security Head
Deepa works as the Information Security (IS) Head of NePS. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering and Master’s degree in Business Studies. A mother of a seven-year-old who wants to become a good hacker, she enjoys answering his queries on security and loves spending time with her son.
We hear a lot about women being sexually harassed and trolled online. What do you think needs to be done to make online platforms safer, accessible and equal for all genders?
In today’s time and age our lives revolve around the internet, smartphones and social networks. Most of us indulge in virtual worlds and networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc. While there is usefulness and benefits of these sites, the virtual world also has a darker side to it which is being used to spread negativity, commit crimes, trolling and harassments. These days no one is spared. Children and adults are being targeted for trolling, bullying and body shaming. Such activities affect the mental health of those targeted. There have been instances where people have even gone and ended their lives.
My suggestion to keep yourself safe online is to not share your daily activities and routine on social media, not to reply to harassing and annoying messages, blocking such harassers, talking to someone you trust and getting the support needed besides reporting the problem to relevant authorities if needed.
Human Resource Head
Sony Shrestha heads the Human Resources Department at NePS. She has completed her MBA degree in Human Resources from Ace Institute of Management. She considers herself to be an introvert with deep love for nature, and explores her creative side through painting in her free time. Her love for the canvas and colours allows her to discover herself and stay motivated despite the challenges of life.
How do you find the fintech industry for women to explore their career in? Are there any initiatives that NePs has taken to encourage more women to apply and to ensure that the office space is safe and equal for everyone?
I believe Fintech is the next big thing. I believe that tech evolution in Nepal is bound to grow with everything being digitised. I would like to encourage women to explore their potential in Fintech. It’s important to see not only the brilliant career opportunities Fintech offers but also to understand the ability of the technology industry that constantly innovates to meet the needs of society. My own experience with Fintech in the last two years has been a learning curve. I find that every day is different and fascinating. It is challenging and exciting, and has made me understand the world of bits and bytes more closely.
At NePs, there is an ecosystem where women are in leadership roles and I believe it has paid back. I am always on the lookout to provide a platform where women are more empowered and I am open to new ideas.
Senior Assistant – Testing
Afrita Khadgi is pursuing a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Pokhara University and currently works as Senior Assistant in the Testing Department of NePS. She feels that her work has allowed her to become a creative thinker and live independently. She is also a singer and song writer, and loves to engage in artistic activities like singing, dancing and sketching.
Women are now not only achieving newer heights in their professional careers but also pursuing their passion in other areas. What works for you?
With the development of technology, I believe we all can be grateful for the opportunities it provides us. I understand that as a woman it is not easy to have both professional career and also take time out to pursue a passion. It was almost impossible for the earlier generation; however, I don’t think that is the case now. With the rise in gender equality and empowerment and access to internet and technology, I believe we have numerous doors open for us. A lot of women these days are amazingly leading various professional careers and also pursuing their passion. Furthermore, I believe with technology and internet, we have easy access to information in areas of our interest. Being digitally connected allows us to reach out to many people in different corners of the world and learn so many things on our own. We can market and operate businesses online, get jobs online and freelance and even become entrepreneurs. The world has many things to offer only if women are eager to make the proper use of all that is available.