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7 Questions on Leadership with Suman Poudel

Name: Suman Poudel

Title: Principal

Organisation: Ankuram Academy.

Mr. Suman Poudel is an accomplished professional with a postgraduate degree in Management, boasting a rich blend of corporate and academic experience. His journey in the world of business and education has been both diverse and impactful.

After earning his Master's degree in 2007 from Bangalore, Mr. Poudel embarked on his career by joining the renowned multinational company, "Target," which is the second-largest retail store in the United States. For three years, he served as an Executive Sales Auditor, gaining valuable insights into corporate operations and management.

In 2010, Mr. Poudel transitioned into the academic realm, starting his teaching career with Sikkim Manipal University. His passion for education led him to return to Nepal in 2013, where he dedicated himself to management education. He has since shared his knowledge and expertise by delivering lectures to BBA and MBA students at Boston International College and Presidency College, respectively. Notably, he also assumed the role of MBA Program Director at Presidency College.

Mr. Poudel's commitment to personal and professional growth is evident in his pursuit of further education. He has completed programs such as the Faculty Development Program (FDP) from IIM Ahmedabad, a Post Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management (PGCHRM) from IIMS, and an Entrepreneurship course from Ivey University in Canada.

His academic accomplishments have garnered international recognition, leading to opportunities like delivering sessions at Ling Tung University in Taiwan in 2018. Mr. Poudel firmly believes that education is a harmonious blend of study and exposure, shaping students' awareness of what they learn.

In addition to his teaching endeavors, Mr. Poudel has served as a keynote speaker for two international conferences organized by D.Y Patil B School and Jawaharlal Business School. He is passionate about inspiring and motivating students to excel both inside and outside the classroom.

As Mr. Poudel looks forward to another promising year at Ankuram, his dedication to nurturing young minds and fostering excellence remains unwavering. He continues to be a beacon of inspiration for students, encouraging them to strive for greatness in all aspects of their lives.

Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!

I hope Suman's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!


Jonno White

1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?

One of the most challenging aspects of being a school principal is ensuring that every student receives a high-quality education tailored to their needs. Meeting the diverse academic, social, and emotional needs of students while also managing administrative responsibilities and staying aligned with educational standards, can be quite demanding. Additionally, ongoing challenges include fostering a positive school culture and maintaining effective communication with students and parents.

2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?

"I embarked on my journey as a leader in the field of education and international affairs through a combination of passion, dedication, and education. After completing my postgraduate degree in Management, I gained valuable corporate experience at a multinational company, 'Target,' where I served as an Executive Sales Auditor.

My transition into the academic realm began in 2010 when I joined Sikkim Manipal University. This marked the beginning of my career in education. Returning to Nepal in 2013, I dove deeper into management education, sharing my knowledge and insights with BBA and MBA students at Boston International College and Presidency College. During this time, I also took on the role of MBA Program Director at Presidency College.

To further enrich my leadership capabilities, I pursued various educational programs, including the Faculty Development Program (FDP) from IIM Ahmedabad, a Post Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management (PGCHRM) from IIMS, and an Entrepreneurship course from Ivey University in Canada.

My dedication to academia and international exposure resulted in a remarkable opportunity in 2018 when I had the privilege to deliver sessions at Ling Tung University in Taiwan, broadening my global perspective.

Throughout my journey, I have encountered and surmounted the challenges of leadership in academia. Balancing administrative responsibilities, fostering a positive learning environment, and promoting discipline while inspiring students and faculty to excel has been both demanding and rewarding.

In my current roles as the Principal of a school and Director of International Affairs for a college, I continue to grow as a leader, embracing the challenges and opportunities that come my way. My mission is to provide students with a high-quality education, promote cultural diversity, and facilitate international collaborations to shape a brighter future for the next generation."

3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?

As a leader with a busy schedule that involves teaching MBA classes and overseeing the growth and enhancement of a school, it's important to structure your workday effectively to maximize productivity and balance your various responsibilities. Here's a typical daily schedule that aligns with your routine:

5:30 AM - 6:00 AM: Morning Routine

Wake up at 5:30 AM to start your day with some personal time.

Engage in activities that help you feel refreshed and focused, such as meditation, exercise, or a healthy breakfast.

6:00 AM - 8:00 AM: Preparation and MBA Classes

Use this time to prepare for your MBA classes. Review lecture materials, update presentations, and gather any necessary resources.

Teach your MBA classes with enthusiasm and dedication, leveraging your knowledge and experience to inspire your students.

8:00 AM - 9:00 AM: Transition to School

After your MBA classes, take a short break to recharge, perhaps with a light snack or a brief walk.

9:00 AM - 12:00 PM: School Responsibilities

Focus on school-related tasks during this block of time. These tasks might include meetings with staff, reviewing school operations, addressing administrative matters, and planning for school growth and enhancements.

Prioritize tasks based on urgency and importance, ensuring you allocate time to strategic planning and decision-making.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM: Lunch Break

Take a well-deserved lunch break to refuel and clear your mind.

Consider using this time for networking or informal discussions with colleagues.

1:00 PM - 4:00 PM: Continued School Responsibilities

Resume your work on school-related responsibilities. This may involve working on strategic initiatives, addressing any issues that have arisen during the day, and collaborating with faculty and staff.

Be sure to allocate time for personal development and staying updated on education trends and best practices.

4:00 PM - 6:00 PM: Wrap-Up and Planning

As the day comes to a close, wrap up any remaining tasks and review your to-do list for the next day.

Take a few moments to reflect on your achievements and challenges, making note of any areas that require further attention.

Consider scheduling meetings with key stakeholders or educators if necessary.

6:00 PM - Onward: Personal Time

After a productive day of work, allocate your evenings for personal time and relaxation.

Enjoy dinner with family or engage in activities that help you unwind and recharge for the next day.

Remember to adapt this schedule to your specific needs and priorities, and be flexible to accommodate unexpected demands or opportunities that may arise in your roles as an educator and school leader. Balancing work, personal time, and self-care is essential to maintain a healthy and sustainable routine

4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?

"One of the recent leadership lessons that I've been reminded of is the importance of effective crisis management. In our ever-changing and unpredictable world, the ability to lead through crises has become a critical skill.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented unforeseen challenges that required rapid decision-making, clear communication, and a focus on the well-being of my team and community. It emphasized the need to stay adaptable and flexible in our strategies, as well as the importance of empathetic leadership.

During this time, I learned that transparency in communication is key. Keeping my team and stakeholders informed about the evolving situation, our response plans, and the potential impacts on our organization fostered trust and unity.

Furthermore, I was reminded of the significance of taking care of the mental and emotional well-being of my team members. Providing support, resources, and encouragement helped them navigate the uncertainties and pressures of the crisis.

Ultimately, this experience reinforced the idea that leadership is about guiding a team through adversity with resilience, empathy, and a commitment to finding innovative solutions. It's a lesson I will carry forward in my leadership journey, knowing that adaptability and compassionate leadership are crucial in times of uncertainty."

5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?

One book that has had a profound impact on my leadership journey is "The Bhagavad Gita." This ancient Indian text has provided valuable insights into leadership, decision-making, and the art of living a purposeful life.

The Bhagavad Gita's impact on my leadership can be summarized in the following way:

Reading "The Bhagavad Gita" was a transformative experience for me as a leader. This sacred text, which is part of the Indian epic Mahabharata, is a conversation between Prince Arjuna and Lord Krishna on the battlefield. It explores profound philosophical and ethical concepts, including duty (dharma), selflessness, and the pursuit of excellence.

One key lesson I drew from the Bhagavad Gita is the importance of fulfilling one's responsibilities and duties without attachment to the outcomes. This teaching resonated with me as a leader, reminding me to focus on the process and the journey, rather than fixating on results. It emphasized the significance of making ethical and principled decisions, even in the face of adversity.

The Bhagavad Gita's message of self-awareness and self-realization also impacted my leadership style. It encouraged me to continuously reflect on my motivations and values as a leader, ensuring that I lead with authenticity and integrity.

Furthermore, the Bhagavad Gita's emphasis on resilience and determination in the pursuit of one's goals has inspired me to persevere in the face of challenges and setbacks. It reinforced the idea that effective leadership requires a steadfast commitment to personal and collective growth.

In summary, "The Bhagavad Gita" has profoundly impacted my leadership by instilling in me a sense of purpose, ethical decision-making, self-awareness, and resilience. Its timeless wisdom continues to guide and inspire my leadership journey, reminding me of the profound connection between leadership and a well-lived life.

6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?

"Embrace the journey of continuous learning and personal growth. Leadership is not a destination but a lifelong process of development. Be open to new experiences, seek out opportunities for self-improvement, and never stop expanding your knowledge and skills.

As a young leader, it's natural to encounter challenges and uncertainties. However, these moments of adversity are valuable opportunities for growth. Embrace them with resilience and a willingness to learn from both successes and failures.

Remember that leadership is not about having all the answers; it's about inspiring and empowering others to collectively find solutions and achieve goals. Cultivate strong relationships, listen actively, and value the perspectives of those you lead. Collaborative leadership often yields the most innovative and effective results.

Lastly, stay true to your values and ethics. Authenticity and integrity are the cornerstones of trust and respect in leadership. Uphold your principles, even when faced with difficult decisions or temptations to compromise.

In summary, embrace lifelong learning, cultivate resilience, value collaboration, and lead with authenticity. These principles will serve as your guiding compass on your journey as a young leader, helping you navigate the complexities of leadership with purpose and integrity."

7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?

"One of the most meaningful experiences from my time as a leader involved guiding a team through a challenging project that initially seemed insurmountable. It was a pivotal moment that highlighted the power of teamwork, determination, and effective leadership.

This project was particularly significant because it allowed me to bring together my academic and professional background to inspire and lead a group of MBA students towards a common goal. The challenge was to bridge the gap between theory and practice, to demonstrate that what they were learning in the classroom could be applied in the real world.

The project involved a complex merger of two departments within the organization, each with its own culture, processes, and goals. The initial resistance to change was palpable, and tensions were running high. As the leader, I recognized the need to address these challenges head-on and create a cohesive team that could work collaboratively.

To foster unity, I initiated team-building exercises and open discussions to facilitate communication and understanding between the two groups. I encouraged everyone to voice their concerns and ideas, emphasizing that their input was valued and crucial for the project's success.

As the project progressed, I also had to make some tough decisions and manage conflicting interests, drawing on the lessons from my academic and professional journey. This required balancing the needs of the organization with the well-being of my team members. It was a delicate task that tested my leadership skills.

Over time, our efforts began to yield results. Team members started working together more harmoniously, and we achieved key project milestones. The sense of accomplishment and camaraderie that emerged from overcoming those initial challenges was incredibly rewarding.

This experience taught me that effective leadership is not just about making decisions but also about fostering teamwork, resolving conflicts, and empowering individuals to rise above adversity. It reinforced my belief in the transformative power of leadership in uniting diverse groups toward a common goal.

It also served as a powerful example to my students, showing them that the lessons they were learning in the classroom had real-world applications. It was a testament to the value of education and the importance of inspiring students to believe in their abilities and pursue excellence in their own leadership journeys."

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