For Kranti Puri, leading a finance team comes with the responsibility to create equal opportunities for its members. That commitment stems in part from the goal of her employer, VSO, a UK-based development organisation that aims to create long-lasting change in some of the poorest regions in the world.
‘We work in developing rural areas where it is hard to find qualified professional accountants’
While Kranti’s position as head of finance at VSO Nepal involves the same responsibilities as in any other charitable organisation, her role goes much further. ‘Working with VSO is different because we work directly in the field to investigate how communities on the frontline are facing financial management issues,’ she explains.
‘We work in developing rural areas where it is hard to find qualified professional accountants and some accounting job holders don’t know the basics of accounting, like debit and credit. Through one-to-one coaching, I can support staff so that they can work on projects,’ says Kranti, who also manages relationships with donors and partners in non-governmental organisations, both local and international.
She makes sure that all project staff, volunteers, and partners are aware of the financial compliance and government policies that need to be adhered to.
Across her career, one of the areas Kranti has most enjoyed is the process of upgrading financial systems. ‘It’s not about simply shifting from one software to another; it’s building new processes, steps, rules and alliances while adhering to government requirements and policies,’ she says. ‘You need to bring in members from both finance and non-finance departments to the new platform.’
VSO has worked in Nepal since 1964. Key projects include developing inclusive education programmes, strengthening the role of youth-led community service organisations and empowering people to advocate against gender-based violence and harmful social norms. VSO has explored innovative ways to reach out to communities such as interactive theatre to speak out against injustices and socio-cultural norms, and creating youth-led community service groups to share their views on climate and disaster resilience.
Number of people worldwide VSO reached in 2021-22
Number of countries where the organisation operates
Year VSO first started working in Nepal
Number of people supported in Nepal in the past five years
Passion for learning
Growing up in Western Nepal, Kranti says that a passion for learning was instilled in her from an early age. She recalls, ‘When I was a child, my mother encouraged me to study all the time. She used to tell us that she would make sure that all her children get the opportunity to have a quality education, which she did not have access to. I still carry her words with me whenever I confront any obstacles.’
‘Creating a platform to grow and motivate women professionals is important’
During her childhood, she wanted to become a doctor but her passion for finance grew while in high school. Through her research, she got to know about the ACCA qualification, which she saw as an ideal opportunity for her to pursue her passion and embark on a career. ‘I spoke to my parents and told them this was what I wanted to do,’ she says. ‘Now, when I look back, I’m very happy that I took the decision.’
Kranti began her career working as an intern at Kathmandu-based accounting firm RajMS & Co, where she gained experience in accounting and auditing for both private and non-profit sectors. She felt international exposure would benefit her accounting skillset, so when an opportunity to study in the UK came up, she moved to London and worked part time for accounting firm Sekhon and Co. ‘I wanted to explore different cultures and practices, which would help me to understand the global scope of finance and uplift my knowledge and skills. The experience I gained gave a boost to my career.’
She returned to Nepal in 2013, and joined Samriddha Pahad, a social non-profit organisation, before taking up her role at the VSO.
Kranti credits ACCA, not just in supporting her own career but for developing Nepal’s accountancy sector. ‘ACCA-qualified professionals excel in all areas, including auditing, finance, skills and people management,’ she says. ‘Organisations are aware of those attributes and that is why there is a higher demand for ACCA members in the job market.’
‘I have the opportunity to motivate and support my colleagues’
A strong member network also operates in the country, Kranti adds, with frequent opportunities to come together. ‘This gives us the chance to learn about new working practices, technologies and systems in finance,’ she says.
Kranti’s journey to a leadership role has not been easy because of perceptions in Nepalese society towards women in finance. With gender equity still some way from being the norm, Kranti appreciates the positive settings that VSO offers.
She says that because of gender stereotypes, some people may place less value on the contribution made by women in leadership roles compared to their male counterparts. ‘They think that women leaders might not have the same competency as men or can’t give enough time to complete a task because they may have major commitments at home. I tell them that everyone has commitments somewhere. We need to have skills to balance a personal and professional life, which we gain through experience.’
Kranti uses her own experiences to influence women in her community, including balancing work with her responsibilities as a new mother. ‘I have the opportunity to motivate and support my colleagues and bring changes in their life,’ she says. ‘When colleagues hear about my challenges and successes, they are motivated to progress in this profession.’
While VSO Nepal has embedded gender-inclusive policies, Kranti notes that their implementation is a major role. She makes a key contribution by making sure that she provides an encouraging environment for her team. ‘Creating a platform to grow and motivate women professionals to come out of their home and into the external world is important,’ she says.
Head of finance, VSO Nepal, Kathmandu
Finance and administration officer, then head of finance and administration, Samriddha Pahad, Kathmandu
Account assistant, Sekhon & Co, London, UK
Finance officer, iDE International, Kathmandu
Intern, RajMS & Co, Kathmandu, Nepal