Anu Joshi Shrestha
Rural Enterprise and Value Chain Specialist
Growing up as the only girl child among cousins, Anu Joshi Shrestha, who is a Rural Enterprise and Value Chain Specialist with the Livelihood programme of ICIMOD, was a very protected youngster. “Not only my father but my entire family, cousins included, were very protective of me,” she shares, adding, “However, my father always wanted the best for me so I went to India for my higher secondary studies.” Staying in a protective environment has its pros and cons, says Shrestha, “But one should never try to live a placid life where everything is decided and done for you.”
Shrestha wanted to try her hand at different things growing up. “I wanted to start my own venture; the entrepreneurial journey always intrigued me. At the same time, I also wanted to work in a team so that I could learn from others,” she recalls. However, her inclination for wildlife and nature, made her decide to join the King Mahendra Trust for Nature Conversation, and that is show her journey in the development sector began.
Shrestha, meanwhile, is also the Co-founder of The Beauty Bar which is a salon and day spa.
In a conversation with Business 360, Shrestha shares the five things that have impacted her work and life.
Life is all about decisions
Life is a course that you have to go through and within that journey, you face many challenges and hurdles, and must make many decisions. There are some decisions that I consider to be the better decisions for my life and career. I had completed my higher studies in India and my father encouraged me to study for a Bachelor’s degree in Nepal. I was also a faculty member at Kathmandu College of Management, Kathmandu University from where I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (BBA). It gave me the network and connections which proved to be useful for my professional life. There I was also introduced to the Management Association of Nepal which opened a door for me to explore my potential and calibre in due course.
The second, I married my husband. He is one of the best decisions that I made. He resonates with me. And I think I am who I am because of him. He has been my pillar and support system. Later, having my children became life changing decisions. I came to realise that life after children is so very different but they are the ones who teach you the most valuable lessons.
Similarly, Suren sir is my colleague and mentor. He has been a pushing factor for my career. He recognised me for who I am and pushed me to do better. He suggested that I work with ICIMOD because it resonates with my core values and the work I want to do. This has helped me to understand what empowerment is as it has made me financially independent and confident to reach heights that I had never imagined I could achieve.
My father, my inspiration; my mother, my inner voice
My father is the one who always believed in me and always made me feel that I am the best. So, that really gave me the confidence to face the world. Being the only daughter, he wanted me to have the best education and never stopped me from taking the leap because he had the same confidence in me that I had in myself. He used to say, “If you’re not happy, I am always there for you.” He inspired me to do what my heart wanted and what I truly believed in. He became my inspiration for the values and confidence that are set within me.
My mother is my inner voice. My mother always made sure that I was in check with reality. She was always there to pull me down and help me understand life values. She was there to teach me, help me learn and unlearn. She was the one who made me understand the ethics of life. It helped me to understand what it means to work hard and that the outcome of hard work is always worth all the hiccups.
Look before you leap
Whenever I am in a situation that is not in my favour or is a bit difficult, I don’t flare up. I listen and try to look at the situation from a bird’s-eye perspective. I tell myself ‘not right now’ and try to keep an open mind as much as possible. I take some time to understand and then come back to it after I have a clear view of the situation; I try to handle it with ease of mind.
I would say that one needs to have patience when we face such situations. One should have the heart and courage to go back to solve the problem. For me, balancing the situation is what I believe in the most and this is something I follow religiously.
One step at a time
Satisfaction in terms of happiness is very important over anything else. I don’t want materialistic things and pride or ego to be counted over happiness. Happiness of the ones around me is really important. Family values and their happiness are very crucial for me. Similarly, success for me is taking single steps day by day. One step at a time is what I believe in. It’s a process, it’s me against me.
Women can uplift others
Women as leaders are very few but gradually increasing. It’s an uphill journey. The perception we have about women by women itself holds us back. When we are going somewhere, we want to take everyone with us – that is the true nature of a leader, and we women possess it naturally. The need is to showcase our skills on different platforms. One needs confidence and as a leader, one has to strike first then pull everyone along. That is a quality I have seen in every woman.