"Daring to dream and converting it into reality is what really matters”

Sanjib Subba, CEO of National Banking Institute (NBI) Ltd, started his professional journey with then Grindlays Bank (now Standard Chartered) in the early 1990s. Later in the decade, he moved to Thailand to be part of a team to start a brand new American University named Webster University where he worked for more than 10 years as Executive Director overseeing the entire graduate program, professional development courses and international admissions division.

Since 2010, he is associated with NBI, the banking academy of Nepal established with the joint efforts of Nepal Rastra Bank, Nepal Bankers‘ Association and Asian Development Bank.  Subba‘s area of interest includes strategy, management, leadership and corporate governance. He is also the current Chairman of Asian Pacific Association of Banking Institute (APABI) which has more than 20 countries as its members.

Pema Tenzing from Business 360 ° talked with Subba on issues related to the leadership. Excerpts:


What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership is all about giving a vision. It‘s about having your vision accepted and making a positive influence in people‘s life through your actions and thoughts. It is also about having a vision that you can execute and take forward. The vision, action and execution that you have taken should make a difference in people‘s lives.

Similarly, leadership also means influencing people in a positive way. Leaders should always lead by example. They should demonstrate and engage. Engagement is a very big thing in leadership. You first start by engaging with yourself and then you engage with people, understand their problems and provide solutions. I think these are the critical areas in leadership.

Do title and position reflect leadership?

From my perspective, everybody is a leader irrespective of what title s/he carries. We need to separate title and leadership. Leadership and title are two different issues. People may have or inherited titles but they might not possess leadership qualities and abilities. Leadership is an inborn quality; they can refine it, learn and enhance it. Leadership is all about having vision, executing it, having goals, getting result and again talking about results, results need to be sustainable.

What are the basic traits that a leader should possess?

There are many traits that a leader should possess. To name few, empathy is a very critical that we see less and less. Second is your ability to have a vision. Daring to dream and converting it into reality is what really matters. I think these are the key attributes of a leader.

How do you assess yourself as a leader?

I think you should ask my people, instead of me. I believe people who work with me or who know me in the industry would be the right peeople to answer this. If you ask me, we are all learning. Learning never stops. You never mature. I‘m a student of leadership. I explore, I try to learn every day from different people. Sometimes, I learn from a taxi driver, sometimes from a honey hunter, sometimes from roadies. I learn every day. I find different leadership qualities in everyone. There is no one formula.

How does career success relates to leadership?

We need a myth breaker here. First we need to define what success is. Is success having materialistic gain, having a big title, having a great home, a Mercedes and Jaguar sitting in your parking lot or is it having satisfaction, being content with your life and being happy with your family? What is success? Success in career is whatever you choose to do. Whatever profession you are in, be an artist, painter, musician or a corporate person, success is deriving satisfaction in each and everything you do. Every morning you wake up and say it is good new day. I think for me that is success

Who has been your leadership Guru?

To be very honest, nobody can help shape leadership. There are mentors and they are different people and it starts actually from the home environment. Home environment and what kind of parenting one has received is very critical. Proper parenting marks the beginning of learning of leadership basics and that remains with people for a long time. With those basics, people try to explore their leadership.

Any three persons who have inspired you?

It would be very unfair to name just three people. But if I have to answer only one, it would be my mother.

Does happiness have anything to do with leadership?

Happiness is the first stepping stone to leadership. If you are not happy, you cannot be a good leader. You need to learn to be happy and satisfied to be a good leader. Success, as I said in the beginning, is a different thing. But, if you are happy I think, you can be a good leader.

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