KATHMANDU: Chhaya Sharma, founding principal of Nepal College of Travel and Tourism Management (NCTTM) always wanted to contribute substantially to the field of academics and in turn to society at large. Her entrepreneurial instinct sparked the idea of starting a college of tourism, so she founded NCTTM in 1955, the first institution of its kind in the country, she claims. “As tourism has tremendous potential in a country like ours, the idea behind opening the college was to produce qualified professionals in the field,” says Sharma, who proudly informs that none of her students have remained unemployed upon graduation.
However, founding a college proved to be a daunting task for Sharma. Since it was a totally new discipline, she had to start from scratch, even designing the curriculum herself. Moreover, back then, a degree in tourism management was not cons-idered worthwhile. Initially she
started with only five students under the single faculty of travel and tourism management. However, her deter-mination has resulted in the Tribhuvan University (TU) affiliated college situated at Ratopul boasting of 480 students and over 50 staffs. The college currently runs programmes on hotel management as well.
Sharma, who is also the president of the Federation of Woman Entrepreneurs Association of Nepal (FWEAN) is herself a diploma degree holder in hotel management. She also has a Masters degree in Sociology from TU and Masters in Peace Building and Conflict Transformation from the School of International Training, Vermont, USA.
“Entrepreneurship is in my blood,” says Sharma, further claiming that easy work involving no challenge does not intrigue her. Even though she encountered several hindrances — including finance — while running the college, she persevered through it all with strong determination and a supportive husband. “I can survive against all odds. Perhaps I am gifted with this virtue,” she says.
Talking about her work ethics, she says that if one thinks of immediate returns, chances of success are very slim. She opines that an entrepreneur needs to have a high level of deter-mination, patience and be resourceful. “Just because you are in a leadership position does not mean you know everything. You should be willing to learn from anyone at anytime,” suggests Sharma.
Opining that women entrepreneurs still have to struggle a lot in Nepal’s patriarchal society, she laments at the unhealthy practices at academic institutions in the country. Sharma says that besides imparting quality education, an academic institution should instil good values and ethics in students. A dynamic Sharma is also an active member of numerous other organisations including: Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Hotel Association of Nepal, Trekking Agents Association of Nepal, and Nepal Association of Tours and Travel Agents.