Capital Region

Engineering firm with local ties connects to its counterparts in Nepal

John Blowers, vice president of operations, third from left, and Rishi Sharma, director of Nepal operations, far right, stand with members of K&A’s Nepal operations and HR teams in Kathmandu in February 2020.

John Blowers, vice president of operations, third from left, and Rishi Sharma, director of Nepal operations, far right, stand with members of K&A’s Nepal operations and HR teams in Kathmandu in February 2020.

Prayers, kind words in Urdu and Punjabi, and a message from the family of K&A CEO Purna Kharel highlighted K&A Engineering Consulting’s “Nepal K&A Family” video, created in response to the recent COVID-19 outbreak at their Nepal office. 

On their own initiative, K&A employees across the country, including locally, came together to film a video for their Nepal office. In addition to raising funds for Nepal from personal contributions, the employees made the video with the goal of expressing the Nepal team’s value and importance in all of K&A’s operations. Kharel felt optimism “witnessing the true connection between the US team and the Nepal team.” 

Founded in 2016 by Purna Kharel, K&A Engineering Consulting markets itself as a Minority-Owned Business Enterprise, “providing engineering, planning studies, and PMO [Project Management Office] services to the utilities industry.” 

K&A’s primary office is located in White Plains with other offices scattered across the country in Orange, Conn; Glen Mills, N.J.; and Chicago, Ill. Local K & A employees have been working remotely, and using a Clifton Park office for meetings until recently. They expect to find new local space by October. Vice President of Operations John Blowers is currently operating out of Burnt Hills, and the majority of K&A employees have been working remotely since the beginning of the pandemic. 

K&A has been cultivating a Capital Region connection in recent years in part through a partnership with NYS Electric and Gas, and a “get smarter” capstone program with RPI, aimed at preventing disasters like the power outage in Texas from happening again. 

The Kathmandu, Nepal office opened in 2019, because Kahrel wished to give back to the community where he was born and raised. Kahrel characterized the Nepal office as a group of “good, hard working people” that allows K&A to expand its services by doing work in engineering, IT support, human resources and financial services. 

From April 11 through May 11, the rate of COVID-19 infections in Nepal increased by thirty-fold, and as Blowers put it, “our team was clearly not immune.” Of the thirty members of K&A’s Nepal office, thirteen tested positive for COVID. 

As infection rates continued to rise, Kharel said it felt as though, “we were running an office where nobody was able to go.” At that point, Kharel, along with the Head of Nepal Operations and other members of K&A’s leadership team, decided to pay for all of the Nepal employees to stay in isolation hotels. 

Watching the COVID situation in Nepal unfold from an ocean away was stressful for the K&A leadership, but Kharel said moral boosting meetings with the Nepal team were helpful in mitigating the stress. He described their routine of “asking how they and their families were doing, and making them feel that we are all committed to getting through it together.” 

Since the end of the COVID lockdown in Nepal on May 27, the K&A office has been able to return to the office. Though infection rates in Nepal have been decreasing in recent days, Blowers and the rest of the K&A leadership do still feel some concern about their K&A employees returning to work. This worry has been lessened, though, as the Nepal Operation Director’s son is a doctor, and he was able to provide all of the employees with vaccines. Blowers says he feels “more optimistic that they’ll be resistant to the virus now.”

The “Nepal K&A Family” video has provided the support the Nepal employees needed as they have been returning to work. As a thank you, the Nepal office wrote, “The video you guys sent was awesome. Thank you all for everything you have done to help us. You are a blessing to us, and we will always remember your kindness.” 

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