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What being a graduate means: An Interview with Rajesh Paneru – TU University Topper, BBA

As-in Interview with Rajesh Paneru – University Topper Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA), Tribhuwan University 2012 batch as conducted by Elisha Kharel, Chief Marketing Officer at tyrocity.com after his Felicitation at 44th TU convocation ceremony IOE, Pulchowk.

Rajesh Paneru scored 3.96 CGPA in his Bachelors and is currently doing his MBA at KUSOM (Kathmandu University School of Management). Below is the extract of the interview with him.

How do you feel as a felicitated medal holder at TU’s 44th convocation?

Firstly, it’s a very belated medal that I got. I have nearly completed my MBA already and maybe we are going to have convocation for MBA soon, so the excitement was not there. But, being felicitated for all the hard work that you have done in your 4 years of BBA, feels great. I was sitting all alone, only one from my batch. When my name was announced, there were people who knew me and the pride they felt when they knew I was receiving the gold medal that felt like an achievement. Obviously, when your hard work is recognized and admired and you are a known face among unknown people, that is the best reward and the best kind of motivation for a meritorious student

Formally whom do you dedicate your success to ?

My hardwork wouldn’t have contributed to my success had my family not supported me in my endeavors. My sisters and brother-in-laws have supported me so far in Kathmandu. I never had to struggle much because of their presence. My parents never questioned me when I demanded money for anything. For a student from outside of valley, livelihood is always a struggle. Luckily I have my strongest support system. Apart from my family, I dedicate all my success to my facilitators who have guided me throughout my journey.

I remember Bharat sir taking the other side of the road every time by trying to pretend to be scolding me. But there was love support and trust in his demeanor and I always sensed that.

The dedication game will not end because my best friend has been the major reason I worked so hard. I would wake up till late night and teach him every semester and I strongly feel I grew more while doing that. I cant explain how thankful I am to all these people. My family, my gurus and my best friend.

Bharat Pant is an alumnus from Kathmandu University. He’s done his MBA from KUSOM. He is currently Deputy Director of BBA (finance) at Shanker Dev Campus (SDC) . He also is one of the major heads and a Faculty member and at Kathmandu Model College.

Rajesh speaking during a Hult Prize program at Kathmandu University (KU)

Okay, here comes the question that you must have faced always 3.96 CGPA is not a joke. How did you score? How did you prepare? And where does the consistency come from?

I face this question all the time. Luckily, so far as my academics are concerned, I have done well wherever I’ve been. Right from the school, there was this pressure, where everyone would look up to me as “guru ko chora”. My father is such a prestigious man when it comes to academic achievements and right from my childhood, his success was projected on me. But this was never a pressure for me. I always took it as a motivation. I am not a nerdy. I equally enjoy life. People stereotype toppers as nerds who know nothing than books. But if you meet my friends, you will know I am not nerdy. I am a hardworking student. I remember working up to 9 in the evening and then starting the party. Even if its party night, I make sure that I finish my responsibilities before enjoying. I have been successful in taking my responsibilities and my desire to have fun together. I think my hard work, endurance, and my ability to maintain academic-personal life balance have helped me remain consistent right from the first semester to the eighth semester.

Can you share a bit about your dad?

My dad is a byakaranacharya. He is also the university topper from India. He has served Nepal sanskrit university from a long time now. He has also been the campus chief of Sarada Bidhyapit, one of the wing campuses of Nepal Sanskrit University. As a student, he struggled financially but never did he let the financial burden come into our heads when it comes to educating all three of us (2 sisters and me). For him, the biggest asset and investment in life is the investment in education. We carry his lineage now.

So being the university topper of BBA, what changes do you think TU should bring in BBA education?

I strongly feel our teaching-learning pedagogy is primitive. Although TU has been constantly trying to bring changes in it, BBA still feels like a regular course. BBA and MBA are supposed to prepare you for the industry and for that the level of exposure that is needed, not even 5 percent of it has been provided. TU has such strong alumni. If they can be leveraged, the students can do wonders.

And I am not putting big words here. During my MBA when I got a platform to explore myself, the potential that I have realized in myself, it is amazing. And I truly believe that I can explore more. We do need a little bit of push from TU’s side. And believe me the students are very competitive and capable. Their contribution to the economy of the country can be exemplary. Around 7-8 students from a batch junior than me from Shanker Dev Campus, got into Rastriya Banijya Bank. And we couldn’t be much proud.

I strongly feel these students had the zeal and passion to learn and that is what led to their success.

There are so many students who have the caliber, they just need a nudge. If TU can recalibrate its modality, the nudge will hit the right spot and rest will be history.

BBA is meant to a practical course, and so goes the demand for BBA degree. But the college fees and expenses have been levied so much that exemplary students fail to enroll because of the cost. Do you think TU should keep a ceiling on how much a university can charge?

Definitely. We had the privilege to study BBA at a cost of 2,66,000. For me, there was the motivation of scholarship for securing the best score in each semester. But not all the opportunity to get into SDC or NCC, for that matter of fact. Private colleges have been taking a tremendous sum of money. How would students who do not make it to top 96 of SDC and NCC afford such hiked prices? It almost costs around 7 lakhs which is basically annual income of many lower and middle-class families of Nepal. How does such expensive course claim to be comprehensive and inclusive when the fee itself de-motivates a lot of students to give up their dreams of holding a practical degree like BBA and to settle down for a less expensive course where they are neither interested nor is there a good scope for the subject. A ceiling would definitely control unfair prices that private colleges have been charging in the name of rendering quality education but unfortunately, the performance of the students in semester exams differs to agree with what these colleges claim to be providing for a higher fee.

BBS is much cheaper than BBA, and now with the semester system education in BBS, guess a competitive market would arise here between BBS and BBA? What do you think?

I still don’t see BBS in the race but I truly believe the course has all the potential to compete. I have observed the semester program of BBS. Moments before, I was complaining about BBA not being practical enough to live up to the expectations that students keep from a semester course. BBS is still following the usual pedagogy. I don’t see much difference in the way the course is taken ahead. It’s even more problematic than BBA. There are institutions like KUSOM and Ace Institute of Management that do not compromise in resources and teaching-learning experimentations.

For BBS to compete with such established institution solely on the ground that it has become semester wise course. I see a bleak possibility. However, if the market stops differentiating BBS from BBA the scenario can change. Currently, if a BBA and a BBS apply for the same job, the psychological bias does play a role. And the employers too favor a BBA. And it’s a bitter truth. Having said that, not all employers do that, because, there are many prestigious institutions out there who value talents than a degree. But BBS as a degree in itself has a lot of flaws. It needs to be redesigned to get to the competition.

So facing it back to Shanker Dev Campus, the college from which you graduated, what Pros and cons did you find during your time here?

Pros: such strong faculties, a caring SDC family, education with enjoyment, great market value.

Cons: less exposure to practical setting, resources underutilized to groom students, sarkari ta ho comments at times, political programs of BBS and MBS somehow affect the environment for BBA

You have switched from TU to KU for MBA. There must be a huge difference that you felt. Can you share some?
The practical exposure that I was talking about initially, KU gave me all of it. The course itself is designed in such a way that each student has to get involved in the activities that conform to personal growth. My MBA journey introduced myself as the winner of the prestigious Hult prize. I became the mentor and the lab master for the ambitious BUCSBIN initiative of the Oulu University of Applied Science, KU, Kings College, Young Innovations and Idea Studio Nepal. I also got the opportunity to organize and host an international conference. I experienced the job fair and there are many more incidents that have helped me shape me professionally. I really wish TU had all these up its sleeves. TU is the oldest and the most widely recognized university of Nepal. If it starts exploring the practical side of its education system, the university can do wonders globally

There’s still a lot to go for TU, right? “Sarkari” vibes people say.

Yes, I met a friend a couple of days ago. His brother studies at KUSOM and he is currently doing MBS from SDC. He said that SDC is bad for BBA. And when I told him that SDC is regarded as the best BBA college in Nepal, he simply didn’t believe. He was dubious and he reacted with a “yea” but his expressions were telling otherwise. SDC is indeed the best BBA college of Nepal. Each year around 3000-3200 students come for admission from which 96 students get selected. When competition is such intense, selection has to be strong. The student base of SDC is very strong for the same reason.

Had there been equally strong amenities and resources, the students would have created something else.

The sarkari vibe is there. I was facing an interview at one of the most renowned companies. When the interviewer saw my resume and said, “You did you plus two from Global College of Management which is such a prestigious institution but why did you go for a government college like SDC?”

And then the interviewer intervened and I explained it to her that SDC is the best BBA college in Nepal. She was not convinced though. We face this ‘sarkari ta ho k ramro hunthyo‘ comment most of the times.

We saw convocation with more than 9,000 students yesterday at IOE, Pulchowk. Can you tell us all the hassles and chaos you felt yesterday at Pulchowk and what management crisis has TU faced?
First, when you know there is going to be so much of crowd, you should prepare for the parking elsewhere than in the same area. The traffic jam was so frustrating that a medalist sitting by my side was complaining about being late throughout the program. Second, when you are welcoming such big dignitaries and so many students at least you should manage the toilets properly.

The worst thing that I saw was the toilet. It was placed in such a place that people could actually see tits and bits from the road which was in a height. Other than that, I understand that 9,000 is a huge number and controlling them is not an easy task. Things went pretty well considering the number of students present. I really don’t get one thing though. When students have paid so much to bring their parents or guardian in the ceremony, splitting the students from their visitors does not seem like a rational approach to me. Those students have come there to cherish the moment with their parents and friends. When you split them apart, they get up and they get to the field for photo clicking and stuffs like that. And the ceremony becomes people-less.

So what suggestion do you give your juniors regarding BBA on how to excel on your bachelors?

I think the students need to be more proactive now. The marketplace is very competitive. And i strongly feel there are 4 major characteristics that each one of us should incorporate in ourselves. They are: agility, resilience, team spirit and confidence.

I believe these 4 characteristics can help us prepare ourselves as the future of professionalism. BBA is an internationally recognized course. And we have to be proactive to bring ourselves in that level.

My suggestion would be for the students to take learning and earning together. We have this tendency to stop reading and updating ourselves to what is happening around us when we start to earn. But i believe learning never ends and if you keep your learning intact, i strongly feel that your earnings will double. So thrive to learn while you are busy earning.

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