Harsha: working at Standard Chartered is like being part of a huge family

Hear from Harsha Pillai - Acting Head, Corporate Affairs, Brand and Marketing , Nepal


Never in my wildest dreams, did I imagine working for a bank. My first job was with a newspaper in Mumbai, then I worked for a public relations firm for two years before going to Cardiff University in the UK to pursue my MBA in Media Management. After finishing the course, I returned to Mumbai and subsequently received an offer from a top PR agency in India. I was asked to join them in two weeks’ time.

While this was happening, I received a call from a friend telling me about a job fair organised by the British Council for graduates who had studied in the UK. Although I had an offer in hand, I tagged along to keep her company. The recruiter at the Standard Chartered booth was very welcoming and told me about an internal communications position. I was a bit unsure if I could do it since I had no background in financial services, nor did I have any prior experience in internal communications. She called me the very next day asking me to come in for an interview, and to share some of my writing samples and later, I found out I got the job.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my five years working with the India CABM team. For me, they’re more than colleagues; they are family! I would also like to especially recognise my people manager, who has been highly supportive and encouraging of my career goals throughout the years.

I’m truly grateful to the sponsorship and belief that people have had in me

In October 2022, I moved to Standard Chartered Nepal, for a short-term assignment (STA). I was always keen on getting international work experience, so I jumped at the opportunity. Now I’m on my second STA, and the Acting Head of Corporate Affairs Brand and Marketing (CABM) Nepal.

The stakeholder exposure I’m getting is unparalleled. Of course, there are good and bad days, but I’m so glad I signed up for this challenge. Getting the opportunity to work with the CEO directly and be part of the Country Executive Committee (ExCo) is a huge stepping stone for my career. I’m truly grateful to the sponsorship and belief that people have had in me for this assignment.

Working across cultures makes you humble

The only markets I’ve worked in at Standard Chartered are India and Nepal, but I did some internships in China and the UK during my university days. Having the opportunity to learn about different cultures, gain new perspectives, work with new colleagues, and deal with local nuances has been an incredible experience so far. Sometimes the local language can be a bit of a challenge, but my colleagues usually translate things for me. Working across cultures makes you humble. In every country I’ve travelled to, I have a home; I can say that I’ve made many friends, who will stay with me for life.

I’m learning every day

The biggest challenge in my career has been taking on the role of Acting Head of CABM, Nepal. In my earlier role I was only doing Communications and Engagement, but now I'm also looking at verticals like Marketing and Sustainability where I’ve limited experience, and that too in an entirely new field. Furthermore, as a first-time manager, I haven't led a team before. But with the support of my team and wonderful stakeholders, it's going well.

Interested in joining us?

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