Transforming Curiosity Into Impact


About Shailendra

Shailendra Jha is the Recruitment and Selection Director at Teach for Nepal, where he has been working for the last five years. Shailendra is the former president of Information Technology Society Nepal and adjunct faculty at Kantipur Engineering College and Virinchi College. He holds a Masters in Development Management from Asian Institute of Management and a Master in Information and Communications Engineering from THM University of Applied Sciences in Germany. Shailendra was one of the twenty Daayitwa Innovation Leaders 2015  to receive Nepal Leadership Academy’s “Leading Innovation” course.


Shailendra Jha made his way back to Nepal after completing his masters from Germany in 2013. With a passion to work at the intersection of technology and community development, he embarked on a journey to transform Nepal through better education and open learning systems, while also transforming his leadership to enhance the impact of his work. A first generation master’s graduate, he recognized the value of a good education and was inspired by the engaging experience he had in Germany. He wanted to do the same in Nepal. His motive was to develop human capital; he believed that Nepal is not short on natural resources, it is people’s capacity we must build for a stronger, more resilient Nepal, and thus it began.

Shailendra joined Teach for Nepal (TfN) in 2014 where he was introduced to the word “empathy” for the first time.  Coming from a technical background which is heavily output-focused and shifting to a paradigm where the process is as integral as the output was a unique experience for him. He found the complex challenges of society intriguing and started becoming more curious about the world and his place in it. With this curiosity and zeal to have some professional training in the development sector, Shailendra applied and was selected as a Daayitwa Innovation Leader in 2015.

 Through the Daayitwa Innovation Leaders program, Shailendra was looking to navigate the new work environment he had found himself in, one filled with uncertainties and irregularities. In his words, he wanted to “take this curiosity and turn it into impact”. It had been a year since he had moved from a linear learning environment to a world overrun with complex challenges when he was introduced to the word “empathy” again. This time he would remember this word as one of the most relevant takeaways from the “Leading Innovation” course given by Nepal Leadership Academy as a part of the program. Understanding empathy as a skill, something that could be learned, and the meaning of shared values and interests as fundamental components of collaboration have stayed with Shailendra and are concepts he applies even today.

 While sharing his experiences as a Recruitment Director, he recollects being able to use his learnings from the leadership course to better understand the TfN Fellowship applicants and increase the effectiveness of his team. The TfN fellows he recruits are responsible for creating direct impact in the lives of thousands of Nepali children and practicing empathy has added value to his selection process. Applying these concepts while working with his team, he is cultivating ownership in himself and in others by making the processes of identifying challenges and implementing solutions collaborative. 

 Further talking about the impact of the leadership course, Shailendra also shares with us his experience with a digital lab he piloted in his community in 2013. Resonating with his idea of transforming the education sector of Nepal, he wanted to make the school learning environment more enabling for students and had piloted a digital literacy program. The community, however, was not able to adapt to this change and the pilot was not as successful as he had hoped. While reflecting on this, he shares that when one of the core components of the course, “adaptive vs. technical challenges” was introduced, this experience came back to him almost as an epiphany. He realized what he was trying to change in the education system would require a behavioral change in the people, that successfully implementing open learning systems in Nepali communities was an adaptive challenge. This change could not be acquired with technical solutions such as setting up a computer lab. He has since been able to apply this learning to his other endeavors through Teach for Nepal and makes sure he gives enough time to rigorous research processes to understand adaptive aspects of a problem before looking for solutions.

Shailendra’s curiosity and motivation to learn keeps him determined to work towards bringing a change in the education sector of Nepal. Acknowledging complexities in his field of work and empathizing with others are learnings that will continue to guide Shailendra in his leadership journey.