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#espresso with Giedrius Virkutis: there is no time to be introverted when communicating with so many people

22 Sep 2020PayRay

IT is an integral part of any business, and it’s critical in the financial services industry. “This part is not visible to customers, but it helps to create the bank's drive and its ability to change quickly, develop products and offer new service models to the market”, explains PayRay's IT manager Giedrius Virkutis, who has been working for the company since its establishment. Virkutis intended to build a career in the field of physics, but in the end he became interested in business and IT. His favourite tip for the PayRay team experiencing technical issues: “Did you try turning it off and on?”

I have been targeting the financial market for 5–6 years – I am interested in investing money and financial derivatives. So everything was leading me to PayRay

What was your professional journey up until PayRay? And what achievements do you find the most important? The journey towards the IT world and my current position was not purposeful. When I started studying physics, I planned to build my life around it. However, I started working in the business sphere: from an engineer to an engineering systems designer. Although I had the opportunity to choose a scientific career and work in a laboratory while studying for a master’s degree, I preferred business. In the above positions, my greatest achievement was the design and implementation of the Kaunas City Video Surveillance Project.

I have always worked with large complex solutions, so I was soon noticed by Telia. I have successfully climbed the career ladder and for the last three years I have led the technical solutions team. Those solutions were mainly related to IT and telecommunications. Still, after working there for six years, I started thinking about new challenges. At that time, PayRay was looking for an IT manager, and I was recommended to Mindaugas Stasionis, the company's deputy director, by a general acquaintance. This is how in the summer of 2018 I found myself here. In addition to that, I have been targeting the financial market for 5–6 years – I am interested in investing money and financial derivatives. So everything was leading me to PayRay.

What are your responsibilities at PayRay? My responsibilities range from the most important and complex tasks, such as developing an IT strategy or choosing long-term solutions that help build the bank’s foundation, to the simplest, such as job maintenance.

What does IT mean in financial services? Is this different from the specifics of other businesses? Both yes and no. Nowadays, IT is an important part of any business, and in the case of a bank, it is critical. This part is not visible to customers, but it helps to create the bank's drive, and its ability to change quickly, develop products and offer new service models to the market.

What goals are a priority for you and PayRay? The company's goals, like mine, are clear enough at the moment: we need to convert to a bank and have stable IT systems – to lay the foundations on which we will build a modern bank. By creating this foundation, we will strive for successful expansion into European countries and the introduction of new products. We want to be a well-known fintech company in Europe.

What is the professional motto/approach you follow? I work in every job, from the very first one, as if it was my company. Therefore, I apply the highest standards to myself, calculate every IT cost, and generally take every step as if I were doing it all for myself.

Have you tried turning it off and on? – this method solves many IT problems

What are your work habits? How do you start your day? My routine is a cup of coffee in the morning, and by noon I try not to eat any sweets, not even have breakfast. As a result, I feel much more able to work. And in the evenings I plan the work for the next day.

What helps you focus? Noise-cancelling headphones are the best way to concentrate on work in the office. In rare cases, I listen to audiobooks, podcasts, music – something that is not too distracting.

What professional advice do you give your colleagues the most? I usually ask them: “Have you tried turning it off and on?” This method solves many IT problems. Colleagues are so accustomed to this question that when they encounter problems and ask for my help, they immediately say: “I've already tried turning it on and off.”

What myths do you face about your profession? How do you refute them? This is probably the part where you want to hear about introverted IT specialists? This is probably one of the most common myths. We hear that people in the IT sphere communicate less, but this can be explained by the following: IT professionals, especially programmers, need more concentration, which makes them communicate less often and have a calmer character. In my daily activities, I have to manage big projects, communicate with a lot of people and coordinate actions, so there are no opportunities to be introverted. So I hope that I am breaking these myths. Truth be told, I am sometimes called a geek, but I don’t consider myself that.

This is easy to check by asking: what’s your free time like, what hobbies do you have? How do you relax after a day of work? To be honest, I pay a lot of attention to my work right now. Moreover, I have a family, two kids and a house, so there are so many activities that it’s hard to even think about any hobbies. I am not a fan of sports, I usually spend my free time with children or friends, and we normally grill something. I watch football on weekends. I could also single out improvement, learning as my hobby. Whenever I have time, I try not to sit still, so I listen to audiobooks, look for new training.

As for those trainings or audiobooks, what ideas or topics are most appealing to you right now? I learn efficiency for personal development: how to manage your life so that you have more time. Another topic of interest is finance, both its management and long-term smart investment. Also, lately I’ve been trying to bring a healthy diet to life, I have been practising intermittent fasting.

Espresso or cappuccino? Cappuccino before PayRay and during my first year at this company, but now I am an espresso fan.

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