Balaram Thapa is a BIPOC entrepreneur and the Director & Travel Advisor of Nepal Hiking Team, an adventure travel company specializing in trekking, hiking and cultural tours. He has been involved in the tourism industry for more than two decades. Like his elder brother Ganga Raj Thapa, Balaram Thapa left his ancestral home in Dhading after completing his matriculation. He came to Kathmandu and completed his Bachelor’s in Travel and Tourism from Tribhuvan University in 2000.
While studying for his Bachelor’s degree, Balaram frequently accompanied trekking groups as a helper. It helped him earn some pocket money as well as gave him enough experience to learn about the tools of the trekking trade. His first trek was to Annapurna Experience Camp. Unfortunately, there was an avalanche en route, and the group had a difficult time on the trek. This first trek was a huge learning experience for him as it gave him first-hand experience on how to survive during an emergency in the mountains.
In the later years, he gathered enough experience and began guiding clients on his own. He has guided groups to almost all the popular trekking trails in Nepal – Everest, Annapurna, Langtang, Manaslu, Mustang, Kanchenjunga, Rolwaling, Dolpo, etc.
Check out more interviews with entrepreneurs here.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO GET FEATURED?
All interviews are 100% FREE OF CHARGE
Table of Contents
Thank you so much for giving us your time! Before we begin, could you introduce yourself to our readers and take us through what exactly your company does and what your vision is for its future?
Balaram Thapa: My name is Balaram Thapa, a BIPOC entrepreneur and the Director & Travel Advisor of Nepal Hiking Team, an adventure travel company specializing in trekking, hiking and cultural tours.
Nepal Hiking Team is a Nepal-based adventure travel company that offers trekking, hiking and cultural tours in the Himalayan region. We are dedicated to helping travelers explore their dreams and create life-changing experiences while immersing in the Nature and culture of the majestic hills of Nepal. Our mission is to promote sustainable tourism practices in order to help communities benefit from our services.
Our vision for the future is to become one of the leading eco-tourism companies in South Asia by providing quality adventure experiences with top-notch service standards and by engaging local communities in a win-win approach. We strive to create an environment where travelers can connect with Nature, understand different cultures, develop respect for local customs & traditions, and learn about the environment.
We believe that adventure should be accessible to all and therefore strive to make our tours affordable without compromising on quality. We have also partnered with local non-profits in Nepal that promote ecological sustainability, cultural preservation & education, and economic development initiatives. This is part of our commitment to helping communities benefit from sustainable tourism practices while preserving the natural beauty of these fragile ecosystems.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO/entrepreneur when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get where you are today?
Balaram Thapa: Growing up, I never had a dream of being an entrepreneur or CEO. My path has been shaped by my experiences and the opportunities that have come my way. After completing my Bachelor’s degree in Travel and Tourism from Tribhuvan University in 2000, I started accompanying trekking groups as a helper for some pocket money and to gain experience with tools of the trekking trade.
This eventually led me to become a guide on treks all over Nepal, which gave me enough expertise to start our own company – Nepal Hiking Team – with my elder brother in 2009. Since then, we have strived hard to offer safe, memorable journeys for our clients and are now regarded as one of the best trekking agencies in Nepal.
I feel lucky to be able to combine my love for travel with my work. I have visited many countries, broadening my perspective and understanding of travelers’ needs. This has helped me communicate better with our clients and plan well-structured trips.
Tell us something about yourself that others in your organization might be surprised to know.
Balaram Thapa: Aside from traveling, I like taking landscape photographs. I usually carry my camera gear with me wherever I go and take photographs of nature’s beauty along the way. I also have an eye for capturing unique angles and perspectives of my surroundings. I am constantly looking for ways to improve my skills in photography as a way to express myself creatively.
Many readers may wonder how to become an entrepreneur but what is an entrepreneur? How would you define it?
Balaram Thapa: An entrepreneur is a person who starts and runs their own business. Usually, this involves taking on financial risks in order to create something that can generate income for the entrepreneur. It requires creativity, an innovative mindset, strong problem-solving skills, motivation, and grit to develop a viable product or service that meets the needs of customers and makes a profit.
A successful entrepreneur understands how to identify market trends, build relationships with customers and partners, manage resources efficiently, strategize effectively and stay flexible as they navigate unpredictable circumstances.
What is the importance of having a supportive and inclusive culture?
Balaram Thapa: Having a supportive and inclusive culture is important for any organization because it helps foster trust, belonging and acceptance among the employees. A strong culture encourages everyone to be their best selves, promotes active engagement in the workplace, increases job satisfaction and morale, reduces employee turnover, strengthens collaboration and innovation and leads to better business performance overall.
When there is an atmosphere of inclusion in which everyone’s unique talents are respected, people feel more connected to each other, and their work becomes more meaningful. This kind of environment allows team members to trust each other enough to take risks and share ideas without fear of judgment or retribution. It also creates a sense of safety that encourages open communication between co-workers, which can lead to truly creative solutions that wouldn’t be possible in a less inclusive environment.
How can a leader be disruptive in the post covid world?
Balaram Thapa: Leaders need to be innovative and agile in order to survive in the post-COVID world. This means being willing to challenge the status quo and look for new ways of doing things, as well as embracing change. Disruptive leadership is not about making radical changes overnight. Leaders must have a clear vision and strategy that they can communicate effectively to their team members, so they understand what needs to be done and why it needs to be done.
They also need strong interpersonal skills, including excellent communication, problem-solving capabilities and conflict-resolution strategies. Additionally, disruptive leaders should remain open-minded and embrace diverse perspectives.
In the post-COVID world, leaders must also be able to manage stress and uncertainty. This means having the resilience to stay focused during difficult times and being willing to explore new opportunities when they arise. To do this, leaders need to practice self-care by taking breaks, exercising regularly and engaging in activities that bring them joy.
Additionally, it’s important for leaders to remain organized so they can effectively prioritize tasks and manage their time efficiently, even under pressure.
If a 5-year-old asked you to describe your job, what would you tell them?
Balaram Thapa: I help to organize exciting trips and tours in Nepal so that people can explore this incredible country. I make sure everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience while they are here. We plan everything from the route to be taken, where we’ll stay along the way; even what food everyone will eat. Furthermore, I also take care of all of the logistics like booking flights, hotels, transportation and more!
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Balaram Thapa: During the height of the pandemic, the most difficult decision I had to make for my company was scaling back operations. I knew that this would affect my employees, reduce our customer base, and limit the services and trips we could offer.
What made this decision so difficult was that it would have a huge impact on the livelihoods of our employees and their families. On the other hand, I knew that if we didn’t act quickly and responsibly, our operations could be completely shut down.
However, in spite of these difficult odds, I chose to scale back operations while still providing a minimum level of service to our customers. This decision allowed us to retain all of our employees with reduced hours, so they were able to receive some income despite the pandemic. It also enabled us to focus on providing better services for existing customers and marketing our services in new ways.
The positive impacts have been long-lasting and have primarily affected my employees and customers. Not only did we manage to stay afloat during this difficult time, but we also provided job security for our team members and quality services for our customers.
I’m proud of the decisions I made, and I’m humbled to have been able to help my employees and customers stay above water during these trying times. It was definitely a difficult decision that had long-term implications, but one that has ultimately enabled us all to come out stronger on the other side.
Leaders are usually asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is your most useless talent?
Balaram Thapa: Restlessness is my most useless talent. I sometimes feel as if I’m stuck in an endless loop of thinking, planning, researching and questioning without any real action. As an entrepreneur, this restlessness can be both a blessing and a curse as it drives me toward achieving my goals but, at the same time, exhausts me mentally.
I try to channel this energy into productive activities like exploring new ideas and connecting with my peers in the industry. Nevertheless, my restlessness can sometimes be a hindrance to accomplishing things productively.
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. If you wrote a book about your life until today, what would the title be?
Balaram Thapa: If I wrote a book about my life so far, it would be called “The Road Unseen: A Journey Toward Discovery.” This title is inspired by the numerous experiences and adventures I have encountered throughout my life.
It reflects both the paths that I had to take to reach certain points in my journey as well as the uncharted paths that I took to discover myself, my capabilities and what I am capable of achieving. It is a story of resilience and determination, where I have been able to draw strength from each trial that life has thrown my way.
Jerome Knyszewski, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Balaram Thapa for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Balaram Thapa or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
Disclaimer: The ValiantCEO Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.