“I wanted my kids to grow up in a culture I grew up in,” says Karvika Thapa on her decision to return to Nepal after working in the US for 14 years. Kavika is the CEO of Kimbu Tech, one of the few women-led companies in Nepal.
Karvika left behind her American life to raise her daughters in Nepal and the Nepali culture. Soon after coming back, she noticed that only a few Nepali women were in leadership positions across all the career fields. “As a mother of two young girls, I could not help but think what my daughters would grow up to be if they barely see women in any leadership positions,” says Karvika. With her daughters in mind, she decided to return to the workforce and be that role model for her and other young girls of Nepal.
Karvika earned her Bachelors in Business Information System from Kathmandu University. Then, she went to the US to pursue an MBA from Saginaw Valley State University. While in the US, she worked with fortune 500 companies and big clients like Nike and Urban Outfitters. She also worked in diverse roles, including finance, database marketing, project management, and quality assurance. Her roles, especially with Merkle and Boston Scientific, allowed her to work across international teams remotely. Having worked in diverse roles and with multiple companies while in the US, Karvika knew her strengths and what she can bring to the Nepali community. She knew she wanted to work internationally and get businesses to Nepal. She says, “I firmly believe that bringing businesses to Nepal can solve many economic challenges we are facing as a country today.”
Karvika’s passion for tech and her vision to bring businesses to Nepal led her to establish Kimbu Tech, an international software company based in Nepal. Kimbu Tech provides IT solutions and outsourcing services and primarily works with clients in Israel and the US. As Karvika puts it, Kimbu Tech is not just a company that brings businesses into Nepal; it is also a company that focuses on establishing Nepal as a tech hub with skilled engineers. Kimbu Tech also collaborates with the KMC Educational Network to identify and narrow the gaps in the talents and recruitment pipeline.
In her efforts to understand the recruitment pipeline problems, Karvika found that the existing curriculum in the Nepali colleges never focused on hands-on learning that resulted in the skill gaps among the new graduate hires. She worked with educators and company owners to address staff shortages and skill gaps in recent graduate hire. She drafted a new four-year curriculum that aligns with the existing curriculum and is also focused on preparing college students with the companies’ skill set. The curriculum is a four-year plan that allows college students to learn new skills from the industry experts starting from their first year at college and was being implemented as a prototype in Himalayan Engineering College before the COVID19, which halted the plan. However, Karvika is still focused on addressing skill gaps and staff shortages in the Nepali tech industry. She took on a new role as IT consultant at Gandaki University. She is working together with the university to establish an IT program that prepares students for the tech industry. With the new curriculum and program, Karvika promises a significant and positive shift in the future recruitment pipeline. She is bringing her experiences to create a space and program that is enriching and focuses on the students’ holistic development.
“I am excited to work together with the university and educators to bring a curriculum that prepares the students for the tech industry. We are pushing it when it comes to how comprehensive the curriculum is and how the program prepares students to thrive and succeed in the industry.”
Karvika shares that COVID19 has affected the operations within Kimbu Tech as well. She says, “While we did not lose any clients during the pandemic, we did not grow as big as we thought we would, either. As a company, we were ready to grow but locking in new clients became difficult once COVID hit.” “However, on a brighter side,” she adds, “one thing that Kimbu Tech achieved during the pandemic was we were able to start an all-women support team who support an app 24/7, and I believe that it is a milestone worth celebrating.”
Karvika struggles with being a work-from-home CEO and a mom to two young girls during this pandemic on a more personal front.
“Motherhood is exhausting sometimes. As women, we have so many expectations to meet, including our own and everyone else’s. Things get difficult to manage when you are a working mom. Sometimes you have to attend a conference when your child is sick, and honestly, I am still figuring out everyday the new ways to show my daughters that their mother can do both; be a CEO and make them dinner. Also, having an equal partner to share your responsibilities at home is very important, and I am lucky in that space of life.”
Karvika is incredibly grateful to her family, who motivate and support her. She believes that an individual is more powerful when they are surrounded with people who support them. She asks the youths to leverage any help they get along the way. Besides, she also requests other parents to support their children and give them opportunities to identify and follow their passion. She thinks that it is crucial for children to identify their passion early on and master skills to pursue their passion.
“Find your passion early on. It may be a problem in society that you would want to solve or a skill you would want to master. Take classes, do things that will help you master your passion. The skills you have learned in your way to mastering your passion will always be useful. It may not always be your main job, but it can always be your side hustle, some extra cash, and skill that you can depend on.”
This article is written by Shreeya Singh Dhakal, the Founder and Co-Advisor of Nepali Women in Computing.