Leadership and Coaching in Nepal – Deborah Koehler (part 1)

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Sunday Morning, August 17th and I am preparing to travel to Nepal tomorrow. It is 30 years since I made my first trip there in January 1984. I was 34 years old, and Nepal seemed an exotic kingdom a long long way from my Nebraska, USA roots. I had already spent 8 years living in Hawaii, so local village life was not strange to me. Nor were agrarian norms of time management and extended family life. Yes, Nepal might be exotic, but there was much about my background that made it logical that I would take to Nepal village life like duck to water.

In that early visit, as well those that followed and my living there permanently from 2006 to 2011, I felt I had come home. I am a very practical person, but something in Nepal touched my spirit, rooted me. It just felt right. I became involved in the culture and have watched, with almost native spirit, as Nepal has faced its transition to the contemporary world.

As an international consultant, educator, and facilitator, I began training activities in Nepal in 1998. At that time only the 3 Banks in Kathmandu requested such support. But by 2009 a newly established College for Training Hospitality Professionals and various emerging businesses were eager to discuss the possibilities and even to undertake small training programs. Because of my long connection with the country, I brought views and values that seemed to connect well with local realities. They were not canned versions of western business practice or ethics or the alternatives flowing out of the Indian subcontinent. What I knew and cared about was the unique, ground level reality in which modern Nepalis work. This was where they had to be effective. This was a world that had to be respected.

For my most recent visit, I have been booked to lead 3 business training programs and 5 business school training programs. The content is varried from “ Improving Diversity” “Leadership of the New Generation” “Delivering Soft Skills training” “Work Ethic” and “Working in Teams”. Historically, education in Nepal have been intimately grounded in a tradition of discipline and obedience. Training of professional staff and personality development have not been part of the culture. However this has led to a stagnant business environment and an outflow of young, ambitious Nepalis to the Gulf and Malaysia. My task is to help foster a business environment that energizes the business community, brings economic improvement to rural villages, develops products and services that wean the Nepalese economy from dependence on tourism, and that gives the best young people a compelling reason to stay and build their careers and adult lives in Nepal.

I share these thoughts because the Symbiont Group has asked me to record my observations of the business challenges facing Nepal’s emerging economy. I am most open to questions and suggestions and welcome hearing about others’

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