Espresso with

#espresso with Martynas Ruokis: “Risk management still inspires me”

19 Jan 2021PayRay

Taking moderate risks, having an interest in innovations and discovering the right balance – this describes the hobbies of the new PayRay Risk Manager, Martynas Ruokis. It has been twelve years since the specialist started his career banking, and risk is still the area that gives him wings. One of Ruokis’ favourite activities is walking, which shows that he has the energy and drive not only to work, but also to live energetically: last year alone, he completed 5.5 million steps.

What was your professional journey before PayRay? Twelve years ago, I started my career in banking, although though when I graduated from school, banking was not my career goal. I graduated from university with a degree in real estate, and at first I pursued a career in this field. However, my path led to banking. Finally, I decided to focus on risk management, which was the area that attracted me the most and it still inspires me. I am very familiar with the role of a CRO, as I had to work with the market and liquidity risks, but I spent most of my time working in the field of credit risk.

Which of your achievements would you say is the most important? I consider discovering a career where I feel good, and where I want to work and improve, as my greatest professional achievement. When a person is in the right position, he or she no longer has to waste energy on finding motivation, and can direct that energy toward improvement. In such a circumstance, good results occur naturally, which is an additional, tangible achievement.

What do you like most about your profession? This is a very wide field, as each type of risk is unique, interesting or complex in its own way, so it requires tremendous competence. The biggest motivation for me is the fact that I can keep improving throughout my whole life.

What are some of the most common myths about your profession? How do you go about debunking them? This may be a low-profile myth, but some people believe that the CRO is given too much control. Such a myth occurs due to cases where the line between a healthy and an excessive risk is narrow and, of course, different people may have different opinions. In order to keep such cases to a minimum, I set the highest standards for myself, so that my decisions and opinions are based on comprehensive experience and knowledge.

What are your responsibilities at PayRay? Generally speaking, my responsibilities include defining the direction of the bank’s risk management, as well as creating and updating the risk management structure and the related rules. More specific, day-to-day examples include preparing periodic risk reports and presenting their results to the Board. I’m also responsible for evaluating credit proposals and making credit decisions, improving risk controls, assisting other divisions in risk-related matters, actively engaging in projects connected to this area, monitoring and adapting to regulatory changes. There are tons of things to do, but I am not alone in my team, so teamwork plays an important role.

What goals are priorities for you and PayRay? A healthy financial system is vital for economic development, so we are doing our best to make PayRay a good example of a healthy system. We want the company to grow, to be profitable and, at the same time, to withstand any shocks – such as economic/financial market crashes – that may come our way. My personal goals are directly related to PayRay’s goals. In particular, I want to ensure the CRO position operates smoothly and to implement the responsibilities connected with that role, with a particular focus on improvements in relation to credit risk.

What is your professional motto or approach? I believe in having a helicopter view – a broad approach to solving a wide range of problems. This often helps me.

What professional advice do give your colleagues the most often? With limited resources and unlimited needs (in other words, a regular day at the office), prioritise the resources according to the significance of the potential outcome.

What are your work habits? How do you start your day? What helps you focus? On a workday, my morning has the features of a ritual – it always starts with groats, tea and a review of the business or foreign news. However, I don’t have any established habits at work, as everything is determined by the specific tasks of the day, taking into account our long-term projects or goals. Well-being is the key to concentration, which means that I need to maintain a proper rhythm of sleep and leisure activities.

How do you like to spend your free time? What are your hobbies? How do you relax? My activities will be familiar to many – I divide my time between leisure activities and quiet relaxation. My favourite activity used to be running, but I have switched to walking in recent years and managed to walk more than 5.5 million steps last year alone. I also like to do yoga stretching exercises at home. And I enjoy books, movies and TV series whenever I want to relax quietly. Naturally, a lot of time is spent on activities related to my children, and we have a lot of family traditions. Such a healthy balanced routine also provides me with energy for work.

What ideas or things are you most interested in at the moment? I’ve been interested in two things lately. The first one is hiking trails, which was especially very well-developed by Camino Lituano. Last year, we tried a route over two different weekends. This decision has paid off very well, and it is a real salvation when don’t have the possibility to go abroad for a long weekend. Therefore, this year my wife and I are planning to spend at least five weekends hiking. I am also interested in investing in real estate platforms. With material investments, I prefer a well-assessed, less aggressive risk, so in this case I am not so much interested in the earning opportunities – it is more a matter of professional/personal interest. After all, I was interested in investing and real estate even when I was still at school. I am also interested in examining what risk appetite such platforms will tolerate.

Espresso or cappuccino? If I know that a lot of attention is paid to the quality of the coffee, I choose espresso.

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