It has been 18 months since Narayan Prasad Sharma Duwadee was appointed as the Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies. He currently heads the Industrial and Investment Promotion Division. Duwadee is also responsible for policies that deal with investment and intellectual property. In his official capacity, he also plays the role of facilitating industrialists, corporate houses and entrepreneurs from the government’s side to help them scale their enterprises.
In this edition of Business 360, we spoke to Duwadee to learn about his views on leadership.
How do you define a leader?
Being a leader is not an easy task. It is contextual. Leadership is based on an individual’s personal understanding and experiences. For me, a leader is someone who leads, guides and shows the path for their followers. I believe that a leader is someone who thinks outside the box and is willing to travel that extra mile to achieve the set goals. I have three convictions regarding a leader: a leader is someone who puts effort honestly, thinks outside the box and is ready to travel the off-road journey.
Is leadership in-born or can it be acquired?
Leadership qualities can be both inborn and acquired. Genetics and social environment do play a role in a child being born with leadership qualities. However, it can also be acquired later in life. I believe that a leader is a person born with the potential to become one. What can be acquired is the skill to unleash, share and expose one’s leadership qualities.
Who comes to your mind as ‘an ideal leader’?
I have actually never given any thought to this. There is no specific person whom I would consider an ideal leader as there are a lot of people who have inspired me along the way. Right now, the images of many people are coming to my mind but I cannot pinpoint anyone specific.
Could you share with us any incident that tested your leadership ability?
As we start our career and move up the rungs, we definitely will encounter many situations that will test our leadership qualities. Right now, being in the position of a Joint Secretary, there are increased leadership roles. I feel my leadership ability being tested in every division I am appointed to. For instance, in the Public Service Commission, I felt myself being tested regarding how I could maintain the notion of meritocracy but now I am satisfied because I get feedback that I did a good job there. Another instance that comes to mind is during the mass movement when I was appointed Chief District Officer of Makawanpur. I was able to grasp and analyse the situation fairly quickly and keeping that in mind, the initiatives I took prevented property and human loss.
How important is it to have a good team to work with?
I have always maintained that leadership is not just about an individual, especially for people working in the public sector. Ultimately, it all boils down to teamwork. What we all need to keep in mind is that if we do not complete the tasks that are assigned to us then eventually the entire system will not be able to function. It is a prerequisite to have a good team around you for successful leadership.
When should leaders hand over the leadership position?
If it is a public sector like ours, then by laws and the regulations, we must transfer all the leadership responsibilities to the next individual. If a leader cannot produce the vision and take initiatives towards reaching that vision, I think that is the time one should hand over their position and responsibilities to a better-suited individual. Whether in a political or a private circle, if a leader cannot carry the mindset of youths and if one starts fearing losing their credibility, that is the time to put your hands up and let go.
Your thoughts on the import ban of some high-end commodities.
I believe the main motive for this is to energise and revitalise our domestic capacity. The rapidly increasing culture of consumerism also can be controlled with the help of this step. I think this will impact that aspect positively. There have been some informal reports from some businesses regarding how it has been tough for them to do business. Besides that, consumers also have raised their voices, because if you are able and want to consume anything, then how can anyone stop them. This kind of mentality has also been surfacing as of lately.
What do you consider as your most significant accomplishment as a leader?
I believe that in whichever position I have taken over, I have tried working professionally and I am completely satisfied with my work. Right now, I am the Head of the Industrial and Investment Promotion Division which entails developing partnerships with the private sector and coordination with line agencies. The manner in which I have been able to conduct all these responsibilities and many more, I feel is my most significant accomplishment as a leader.
How can a leader prepare for the unknown?
In technical terms we can refer to it as crisis management. The unknown can bring about crises as well as opportunities. A leader should be well-versed with past experiences and be able to speculate and forecast the near future results. And if that is not possible, we can fully equip ourselves as well as our team academically as well as technically. Thirdly, we can take notes from success stories of those who have previously been in the same predicament and learn from them.
As the head of an important division of the ministry how do you view the challenges brought about by the Covid 19 pandemic?
The most hard-hit sector by Covid was indeed industry and commerce with regards to operations, productivity and profitability. Despite this, the pandemic also brought along a few opportunities such as the implementation of information technology in our system. It was a learning curve and a test of our ability to adapt. And post-Covid, it gave us a new understanding that we should focus on domestic production and consumption. Self-sustainability and self-reliance are also important to survive during adverse situations such as Covid. The perception of the private sector by the government also changed; financial as well as non-financial incentives, waivers, etc were introduced to support the private sector to some extent.