“There are very few women head chefs in Nepal, and I want to change that”, says Suleena Bajracharya, a 2012/13 LEADer who aspires to be an executive chef in the near future. She is currently studying hotel management at The International School of Tourism and Hotel Management in Nepal. Suleena is the first LEADer amongst all the five batches at Women LEAD to pursue a career in hotel management. Today, she sets an example to all the young LEADers and encourages them to opt for hotel management too.
When asked about what her greatest learning experience from Women Lead is, she instantly replies “Public Speaking”. She recalls her experiences prior to joining Women LEAD and says “I was very shy before I joined Women LEAD. I would always be sitting at the back bench, and happy just to be in the audience and never in the front stage. When I joined Women LEAD, there was a complete reversal. Today I can lead all the sessions in my class and confidently handle presentations as well”. She says that Women LEAD has played a major role in boosting her confidence in speaking in front of a huge group. She vividly recalls the public speaking session that she took when she was in the leadership training and says that it has been a huge help to her. “Today I can go to any presentation and handle any type of question that the audience throws at me. Before joining Women LEAD, public speaking was nerve racking for me. Today, it has become my strength and I enjoy speaking to the crowd.”
Suleena also actively participated in the School Leadership Program under the leadership training. She says she learned a whole new set of skills there: from talking to the school principal to running the whole program, they had to do it all on their own. In this process, she learned event management which, she emphasizes, will be very useful for her career. She adds, “I also learned about team work, how to work as a leader and as a follower and also skills like time management which is very important for someone in the hospitality business”.
Initially, her parents were skeptical about Suleena working out of the house since her work demanded late hours, but eventually, her parents came to understand and respect that. She even worked as a nursery teacher after her leadership training at Women LEAD. She never knew she had that talent within her and Women LEAD has immensely helped her in exploring her talents.
When asked about the issues that Suleena cares about, she says, “I haven’t many seen women chefs in Nepal. Most of them are only limited to jobs like housekeeping and sales in the hospitality industry. But when it comes to the actual job of cooking, the industry is dominated by men. Thus, she wants to break the stereotypes and prove that even women can be in the executive level in the hotel business.