Dr Ram Chandra Bhujel
Dr Ram Chandra Bhujel was invited as a key resource person during an International Workshop on “Emerging Global Managerial & Leadership Skills” organized by International Standard Icon-ISI, Nepal in association with Corporate Training in Bangkok (CTB). The event was organized in Radisson Hotel, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, and nearly 50 executive managers and high-ranking officials from the Government Employees’ Saving Fund, Renewable Energy Testing Service (RETS), UNDP including other I/NGOs, and several private banks of Nepal attended the workshop. He presented how small ideas, innovations, and some crises create environments for some people to emerge as leaders. He serves as Director of Aqua-Centre at AIT, Thailand train hundreds of people from various continents. He is well-known globally in his area of expertise and has traveled around the world giving lectures in seminars on a wide range of topics. The followings are the excepts of the talk between him and www.educationrays.com
www.educationrays.com: How was your childhood and education?
Dr Bhujel: I was born in Lamjung where I received my primary education. Later, I got a chance to study at Gandaki Boarding School (GBS), Lamachaur, Pokhara. In my childhood, people said that I was quite introvert person. Possibly that was the reason I was good in study. I was always top in my class. That’s why I was selected to study in GBS, from where I passed SLC exam in 1981 with first division. That year, only 600 students passed with first division unlike these days.
www.educationrays.com: How was your educational journey?
Dr Bhujel: Oh, there is a long story! As my family was not capable of supporting my higher education, it was hard for me to think about studying Science or other subjects in Kathmandu or Pokhara. Even though, I was selected for Science in Prithvi Narayan Campus, Pokhara, I didn’t study there. Instead, I taught in the village nearly a year to earn some money, then I enrolled for Intermediate in Science (I. Sc.) in Agriculture at Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (IAAS), Lamjung Campus, then later in Rampur, Chitwan. In agriculture, there were higher chances of getting scholarships to study at Rampur and also to go abroad afterwards. That was the attraction indeed. After I completed I. Sc., I taught in a high school in Kathmandu near Sundarijal. I earned some money from teaching and private tuition. Then I had some courage to continue bachelors’ degree. Then, I went to IAAS, Rampur for entrance exam. There were two exams; one was for agriculture and another for 4-year newly developed program. Some how, my name appeared on top of the list in both the groups, whereas some people were crying because they did not pass any entrance exam. That struck my mind and made me to realize the value of higher degree in technical science. Then I decided to enroll in 4-year Animal Science program as it was new and everyone used to say it was better. I was still teaching in the high school in Kathmandu and attending the classes during the first year of the bachelor’s course to earn additional money to support my study. Fortunately, I received scholarships from IAAS, and later from UMN (United Mission to Nepal), and completed 4-yr B. Sc. in Animal Science and completed in 1992. I applied for MSc program at Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand before completing the BSc degree. I was lucky to get a scholarship for MSc at AIT. After completing the MSc degree, I was also selected to serve as Research Associate (RA) to work for a joint venture project between AIT and a company. Four months later, I enrolled for PhD as an employee student and completed in 1999. In 2000 and 2001, I also had chances to do Post-doc at the University of Stirling, Scotland, UK and Montpellier, France. I have been serving the prestigious academic institution i.e. AIT for over 15 years leading a self-sustaining Centre as a Founding Director.
www.educationrays.com: How do you remember your struggling days?
Dr Bhujel: As I mentioned you earlier, I was introvert. Even now, I think we often need to be introvert in order not to let outside bad elements or the environment to infect our mind. It is really hard to fence yourself from disturbing surrounding environment. Life was always struggle. From Grade 4 until 8, I used to walk for 1.5 hours to go to school. That means 3 hours walk daily. But now I think that was a good exercise due to which I did not face any health problems, even until now. Probably, its good to have such walking distance or at least 30 min walking distance for children. If you look at the children in the cities, they just sit in the van/vehicle and watch cartoons on mobile phones or iPads. Obesity is becoming a problem as in developed countries. Financial problem was the main for higher studies, but somehow I managed to earn my self and also receive scholarships from the Nepal Government for I. Sc. and later from UMN for B. Sc. study. More important is that I had very good people who have helped me in critical junctions making my journey to this height possible.
www.educationrays.com: What are the remarkable incidents behind your journey to Thailand and beyond?
Dr Bhujel: I was fortunate to have one of my friends studying at AIT who sent me the form to apply for M.Sc. during my final year of B. Sc. Selection committee, might have been impressed with my good academic records. After completion of M. Sc. I was selected to serve at AIT. After few months of work, another opportunity knocked the door for my doctoral degree. Opportunities came one after another and I took advantage as much as I could. That’s why I was able to continue my study those who have good academic records, sincere, hard working, and enthusiastic students. Some people can recognize and take advantage of, while others can’t. Being based in Thailand, I have been able to compete globally in terms of designing project and competing for funds including from EU and other donors. I have coordinated several international projects covering several countries e.g. Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, Vietnam, and few African countries. I have also served as international consultant to FAO/UN, WorldFish, US Department of Agriculture (USDA), American Soybean Association (ASA), and many private companies. I have been selected to give Keynote speeches in several international conferences in various countries including in Germany, India etc. Two of my books written as a sole author have also been the remarkable achievements; 1) Manual for Tilapia Business Management published by CAB International based in Oxford UK, and 2) Statistics for Aquaculture published by Wiley-Blackwell Science which are quite expensive (US$145 and US$121) and are available online such as eBay.com, Amazon.com and also in many bookstores all over the world.
www.educationrays.com: What is the significance of professional training?
Dr Bhujel: Professional trainings are customized based on the need. They help update knowledge and provide specific skills. Most important is that these trainings help enhance entrepreneurial skills which is badly needed in Nepal to create more jobs for the young people so that they do not need to fly abroad. People need to understand that they need to produce or develop products and export so that dollars will follow them. If jobs are not created and products are not produced for export, people have to be exported, which is happening in the country at the moment. Hope policy makers and youths will understand soon and start more people to become entrepreneurial. I have designed many international courses, and trained thousands of people from Asia and Africa including from developed countries such as Australia, Europe and USA. Many of them are doing very successful businesses, or working as role models. I feel very satisfied when I see or hear about their success stories. Many of the trainings have served as turning points for many individuals as well as for organizations. Just for an example, I was so happy when a CEO of a large company in Bangladesh invited me in his office and shook hand saying, “Thank you for saving our company”. I had trained 6 managers of that company and also had solved their problem visiting their project site.
www.educationrays.com: What are the needs of Nepalese professionals?
Dr Bhujel: After seeing the world and having experience with the people from the least developed countries to the highly developed ones, I feel that Nepalese professionals are quite capable if they get comfortable environment. Especially, they go abroad, many of them have been successful. They need to learn how to create such environment which means actually they need to be truly entrepreneurial. It is not easy to say this unless they are willing to develop higher level of integrity, learning attitude, discipline, enthusiasm, commitment, patience, cohesiveness, and to broaden their horizon. They need to be more practical and positive thinkers so that they could explore opportunities in the pile of problems. More importantly, they need higher level of management skills, in-depth knowledge of what they are doing or need to do, to learn manage time, and build confidence among the people.
www.educationrays.com: What should be done to enhance the capability of Nepalese professionals?
Dr Bhujel: More training similar to what we just did in-country, and also similar training courses abroad would be more useful in broadening their vision especially if they are organized in combination with exposure trips to practical fields. More importantly, they need to share their knowledge and experience, which requires change in attitude, especially those who have problems of ego, jealousy, laziness etc. They have to be open-minded, eager to learn and ready to accept new ideas and behavior.
www.educationrays.com: How do you plan to contribute for your homeland?
Dr Bhujel: Although, I am away, I always think how I can help the homeland. I plan to continue to help by transferring new knowledge, ideas, and technologies, and also by enhancing the skills of Nepalese professionals. That is the reason we have been working in collaboration with many government and private sector partners in Nepal.
www.educationrays.com: What are your future plans?
Dr Bhujel: My future plans are to have more collaborations with various organizations in Nepal to organize more training programs, seminars, workshops, interactions and field activities in Nepal. You may not know that I have been launching several highly successful academic and community development projects in Banke, Surkhet, Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Gorkha, Lamjung, etc. since 2000. The one, which we have successfully completed, are having multiplier effects. We will try our best to utilize our experience earned in other countries to help Nepalese professionals to be successful. I hope that our efforts can play a considerable role in enhancing economic progress and overall development of Nepal.
www.educationrays.com: What is life?
Dr Bhujel:Life is series of successes and failures or ups and downs. Only difference is that some people have more successes while others have more failures. But the best life is a good combination of hard works when needed, and full-fledge enjoyment at the moments of successes.