Sudeep Thakuri, PhD
Dean, Graduate School of Science and Technology and Graduate School of Engineering at Mid-West University, Surkhet
“I am a climate scientist focused on research in different emerging climatic and environmental issues. I do research on understanding of our nature, in particular how changing climate influences our environmental systems,” says Sudeep Thakuri, PhD, Dean of Graduate School of Science and Technology, and Graduate School of Engineering at Mid-West University, Surkhet.
Thakuri is devoted to improving the teaching and learning quality in his faculty at the university. Having a passion for scientific research and academics, Thakuri was appointed as Associate Professor of Tribhuvan University from the academic research excellence-based open competition in 2018. After some years, in May 2021, he was appointed as Dean. He says, “I got the opportunity to lead a department as Dean through open competition which was probably the first time in the history of Nepal for such a position.”
Thakuri started his career at an Italian Research Institute in Nepal – EvK2CNR, and has passed through different research positions in different organisations. He received his BSc and MSc degrees in Environmental Science from Tribhuvan University, Nepal and his PhD degree in Natural and Environmental Sciences from the University of Milan, Italy. He is also the first recipient of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change award for climate studies from Nepal.
In this issue of Business 360, Thakuri speaks about five things that have impacted his personal and professional life.
Choosing education as my career path
I chose to become an environmental professional. When I learned about the degrading quality of our environment, pollution, degrading forests, disasters and emerging environmental issues along with ideas for the maintenance of ecological balance, managing resources, freshwater, soil and air, I got interested in the field as it is inevitable for the survival of humans and all creatures on earth.
From studying environmental science for my Bachelor’s degree to doing PhD from Italy to joining my first job in an Italian organisation are some decisions that have changed my life course. When I completed my Master’s degree, the first job that I was engaged in was remarkably important to me. I learned practical skills from my supervisor. He taught me to take care of every minute detail and also taught me how to do things properly.
Just after my PhD degree, I started working in the development sector in a non-governmental organisation. I was offered to continue the job but I decided to move from the development sector to the academic sector. The decision to join a university from the development sector has become a changing point for me. After this decision, I am continuously working at the university and now am permanently devoted to my career in the education sector.
An opportunity missed could mean a better opportunity is awaiting
I have different sources of inspiration in my life. First, my parents, who devoted their time to raising and bringing me to my current position. Second, my teachers who helped and encouraged me to learn and gain experience. Third, my first job supervisor who engaged and drove me on the research path and introduced me to practical research skills. Further, our nature has been the greatest source of inspiration for me. I have found that nature is very systematic, well-organised, and patterned. We have lots to learn, understand and explore from nature.
My job supervisor used to tell me that I should always continue trying and not give up. One missed opportunity means a better one is waiting for you. This advice from my supervisor has in fact become reality. Once I had applied for a PhD grant but unfortunately, I received a message saying that my application had been excluded from the competition as it was delivered late due to delay in the postal system. My job supervisor advised me not to worry; an opportunity missed means a better opportunity is waiting. Within a few months, I received another far better opportunity for my further studies. This advice has been applicable in my life frequently. If I miss one opportunity, I believe that I will get another better opportunity.
Just dreaming is not enough, you must take action
During difficult situations, there is always a high chance of making mistakes. Be calm, take time and act wisely. A clear understanding of the issue is very important for any action.
Collaboration is another way of handling difficult situations. Take appropriate support from colleagues and collaborators. A situation cannot always be in your favour if you have unsupportive people but luckily, I have found support from my team in addressing difficult situations.
If you have determination and honestly work towards your life objective, you will surely achieve it. Just dreaming is not enough, instead, start with small actions.
Don’t expect too much, focus and continue with your responsibilities. We should also learn to enjoy ourselves fully wherever we are. I have noticed that people are often not satisfied with their achievements and keep looking for better and bigger things. Continuity is very important. One should also learn to always think from another’s perspective. How you see and think, may not be the same for others. The level of understanding and interpretation differs from person to person that is affected by society, culture, economy and education.
For me, satisfaction is achievement, it’s success. It’s a relative terminology. High expectations can create a barrier to life success, instead, enjoy what you do and do it well. Think about how you can contribute to this world in your lifetime.
Provide unbiased leadership opportunities for all genders
Women should not be left out of the leadership and decision-making processes in every decision in our communities, societies and country. We should provide unbiased leadership opportunities for all genders. I think that women are powerful agents of change. In many situations, women leaders can outperform male, defeat many workplace barriers and can be transformational role models. In Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, we have very few women working. Despite the inclusive provision of the government, it has still not been inclusive in many decisions. With the socio-economic changes in the country, we have improved and have ensured participation of women in several roles, but not yet in the decisive roles. Only education can change this situation.
Reform in the education sector is a need
The number of students, schools, colleges and universities has increased in the last couple of decades, but the quality of education in the country has deteriorated. The education system in Nepal should be rethought and reformed. Market-driven education and life-skills development education should be a priority. It is highly uncertain where our education system is heading towards.
Evolving technological changes have dramatically changed communication and provided easy access to the required information, but such changes have reduced the significance of knowledge and thinking capability of a person, weakening the community, social and even family bonding. Political interference should be avoided in any education decision. Teaching and academic sector are not for making income.
The government and private sector should invest in science and innovation where there are lots of research opportunities. We need honesty in the roles of faculties, students, guardians and staff for quality education. Motivation factor for the teaching faculties is very low. Government should initiate competitive benefits to persons working in the academic sector.