Kathmandu: Perseverance makes ordinary people great. No matter how minor the task is, persistence leads to the pinnacle of success. 22 years ago today, when hired, Rita Sharma was appointed as a receptionist for NLIC, today she has written a success story as a re-insurance head of the same company.
Rita Sharma, the daughter of a government employee, was not interested in the government job. Her father Shiv Prasad Sharma was an employee of state-owned Rashtriya Beema Sansthan, who influenced her to opt for the insurance industry’s job.
Influenced by her father, Sharma got a chance to get familiar with the insurance closely. Later this helped her a lot in life. Not only did it help, but it also helped her to make a career in the insurance industry. Her career in the insurance industry kicked off at Nepal Life, where she was appointed as an assistant level and assigned the job of receptionist. She had joined NLIC on Baisakh 11, 2058, 10 days prior to the formal operation of NLIC.
Sharma shares, “There is a lot of pressure on both men and women in the insurance industry. My experience says that women employees can handle the work pressures tactfully than the male coworkers in the insurance industry.”
At the beginning of her career, she was mentored by GS Panti, the first CEO of NLIC. She got a chance to learn a lot about insurance from Panti. She got opportunities to work in the underwriting department. Along with underwriting, she got the opportunity to work for other vital departments, policy servicing, and underwriting.
She recalls, there was no internet era like it is now. There were not so many journal articles written on reinsurance. I used to ask foreign reinsurers through email about matters I did not know. No one is born knowing that, for that, you have to show interest to learn and gain knowledge. She practiced for a long time to identify different types of risks which are acceptable or unacceptable for insurance underwriting in consultation with foreign reinsurers. The company also used to bring in expert foreigners to enhance the skills of its employees.
She used to try to understand as much as possible through the Internet, books, journals, and articles about things she did not know and did not understand. He got a chance to learn and understand things through self-study. But he found it very difficult in the matter of reinsurance. There was not much reference or study material available for reading on this subject. Underwriting was also the focus of some reinsurance training.
She used to self-study and take consultations on how much retention to take, and how much risk to ceed. The risk retention is decided based on the net worth. Regulatory compliance detects the risk retention ratio for an insurer. Risk above the retention ratio is shared with the reinsurers. She continued to consult foreign reinsurer experts through email or any other means of communication to share and learn a-b-c of risk underwriting and reinsurance. Due to her passion for reinsurance, she had the opportunity to take part in many national and international seminars and training on behalf of the company.
”The insurance business does not mean sitting on the chair like tellers in banks. A large network of agents should be built for selling insurance policies. Business should be brought into the company by using the agency network. For which the employees must have marketing skills. ”
Her dedication and passion for reinsurance and underwriting pave the way for her to lead as head of the department.
Sharma, who passed SLG in 2046 B.S. from Lanchaur Girls’ Secondary School, completed her intermediate level studies from Sankardev Campus. Sharma has Masters’s Degree in Public Administration.
Back at the age of 20, she got married. She was a mother of a 2-year-old son while joining NLIC. Since the husband is an employee of Nepal Bank, he encouraged her to become a professional. After marriage, it was not easy for her to hand job, continue academic learning, and take care of her kid. Along with the job, she had to support her family, take care of her kid, and manage her studies. But as her family supported her in everything it made it comfortable for her. Being a member of a joint family, she did not feel much difficulty in upbringing her son.
An insurance company’s job is not as easy as other jobs. She says, ‘A lot of work has to be done during the quarter end and the financial year closure. Sometimes we had to work till midnight at the office.’
During her tenure of 22 years, she got an opportunity to work under 7 CEOs. In the industry, it has been witnessed that some employees feel comfortable and get favors till a particular CEO leads the organization. Later from the very next day of his exit, the same employee feel ignored and insecure at his job. Rita shares, ‘With the art of making professional relations with everyone in the organization, I had never faced such a situation. Personally, I was neither close nor away from any CEO.
Sharma, who has worked on many new product designs for NLIC Nepal, got a chance to understand the insurance policy better. Sharma argues that when the Nepal Insurance Authority always says that they want a new insurance policy, it is not practical. She said, ‘The market response should also be taken into consideration. Not every product is widely accepted by the market. Still, the domestic life insurance market is dominated by traditional endowment plans.
Sharing her mantras for success, Sharma says to succeed in the insurance industry, one has to gain knowledge in diverse fields of insurance like underwriting, reinsurance, product, policy serving, and marketing. The skill to communicate and convince others is a must. If you are working in the insurance industry, then you must know handling and motivating the insurance agents.
Experiencing her career growth from assistant level staff to assistant manager level, from the receptionist to re-insurance head, Sharma finally concluded her 21 years and 10 months tenure in NLIC. She commented on her decision to exit, Due to personal reasons I opted for the voluntary retirement scheme.
Now, she plans to do some start-up business that aids the insurance industry.