#espresso with… Mindaugas Stasionis: unleashing creativity in the financial sector

Mindaugas Stasionis, as the Deputy CEO of PayRay, works with the CEO to solve the routine and strategic issues of the company on a daily basis. His journey in the field of finance started at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga and has continued at one of the largest commercial banks in the country. Currently, Mr Stasionis divides his time between working at PayRay, being with his close ones and his great passion for books.

What are your main responsibilities at PayRay? I share many responsibilities with the company’s CEO – I mainly take care of information technologies and business development in the Baltic States, as well as long-term project coordination and sales processes. I also take part in crafting various strategies, like determining which markets are worth expanding to and what products should we offer to our clients. My agenda also includes change management and specialised projects – I am responsible for distributing the resources and ensuring the smooth progress towards goals.

How does your work day start? When I arrive at work, I first say ‘hello’ to everybody and then take a walk around the office. This allows me to get a feeling for the prevailing energy and mood of the team. How people feel often determines what the day will be like and how much time it will take to solve the current-day challenges. Once at my workplace, I read through the projects presented for credit, check my email and then go into the task management system, so that I don’t miss any important things that need to be done that day. 

Why do you love your job? I feel a lot of joy when I can create, and working at PayRay enables me to do that. I have contributed to creating the organisational and sales structure since the launch of the company. That is why I love my job here – I work with a multi-functional team, our decisions contribute to the company’s operations, and I can implement a business development strategy. I am fascinated to see our assembled team move forward so quickly, even after letting them carry on with minimal supervision.

In your opinion, what is the greatest achievement of PayRay so far? We have assembled a strong team, attracted clients and created an effective sales structure within a short period of time. PayRay is only one and a half years old, but our processes are fully operational. We are working in a really competitive B2B segment and are competing with other players that have been in this market for longer, but our results are spectacular. We have already surpassed some of our competitors and we will outperform others in the nearest future, thus coming closer to our goal of becoming the largest specialized player in the Baltic States. This would be impossible to do without a strong team, where everyone makes his or her unique contribution. The team has quickly grown stronger, with well-established bonds and is now going after a single goal with a sense of determination. The experience we have gained at PayRay encourages us to just go ahead and do it. Things are often more simple than they look in the beginning. 

What piece of advice do you share with your clients or colleagues the most often? My philosophy is that a team leader has to show the right direction, enable people and to remove the largest obstacles that the team will face. A manager does not necessarily charge first with the flag – but he or she knows how to align the differences and issues, as well as to highlight the team’s strengths. Some people are better at strategic tasks while others are great at working on projects that require diligence. The most important thing is to provide opportunities to express themselves – then person’s best abilities unfold. 

How do you spend your free time? I tend to change my free-time activities. Over the last ten years I have learned yoga, played squash and poker, danced salsa and lindy hop, and trained martial arts. Currently I have no special hobby, but I do devote time to Chinese wellness system Qigong.

What is your motto? My favourite saying, which I follow at work, is ‘Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, but the third time means a symptom’. This saying reflects my view towards the incidents that occur at work. I don’t think that a small problem occurring for the first time is worth spending a lot of time on. Having room for error allows the team to make creative decisions. However, a repeated mistake shows that there is a deeper and usually invisible challenge that must be analyzed more carefully.

Could you name an interesting fact about yourself that your colleagues wouldn’t know? My colleagues would probably be surprised to learn that I don’t watch television for more than a decade. I realised that I watch only basketball games and the news, so I made a decision to give up on television. It was strange at first, but I realised that I could spend more time on the other activities that I enjoy; for example, reading. A great replacement for the news is TED talks, which I like listening to. I am also the only one in the office who drinks Argentinian mate. Due to its unique taste, this drink is certainly not a favourite among most colleagues. 

What book or movie would you recommend to others? I like reading – the genres that I usually devour are science fiction and fantasy, but I also like to read about psychology and business management. Typically, my reading list contains at least four books: audio book in the car, a book on parenting, something from science fiction and one serious non-fiction book. The order in which I read these depends on what I find the most interesting. A book that recently made a big impression on me was ‘Sapiens’ by Yuval Noah Harari, which showed the history of humanity from a new perspective. A few years ago, I really enjoyed reading ‘War! What is it good for?’ by Ian Morris. It analyses how destructive wars have contributed to the development of modern society. To me, one of the best fantasysagas is the famous work by George Martin ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’. I also like watching movies and series, but devote more time to reading.

Espresso or cappuccino? For a long time, I enjoyed drinking cappuccinos all day long, but since I started working at an Italian-owned company I have learned about the Italian way of drinking coffee. Therefore, I have already got used to having black coffee or an espresso after lunch, leaving coffee with milk or a cappuccino for the morning.