‘It was a big change, but I have never regretted my decision’
Justas Jonikas shares his career journey, how he eventually landed the job as Head of Transaction Services at SEB in New York and his best tips for pursuing an international career.
Justas Junikas, currently Head of Transaction Services at SEB in New York, started his career as an assistant in a leasing company in Lithuania. The company, Vilniaus Bankas at that time, was part of SEB.
Justas explains that he worked with leasing services for passenger cars, trucks and real estate, which gave a him a good understanding of companies’ operations as well as an introduction to financial and credit risk assessment.
He ended up working at SEB Lithuania for several years in different roles, mainly in corporate banking.
“I worked in Cash Management and eventually became manager of the unit. Then I moved to Trade and Receivables finance area, where my job was to merge the units and create a strong team driven by a common goal”.
A few years later, another opportunity emerged, to become manager of Transaction Services at SEB Lihuania. Later on, he coordinated the Trade and Receivables finance business in the Baltic region and became responsible for building the business strategy for the area.
How did you eventually end up as head of Transaction Services at SEB in New York?
“When I first saw the job advertisement, 'Head of Transaction Services at SEB in New York', I thought it sounded really intriguing. After many encouraging discussions with my colleagues, I realised that maybe this opportunity was not so distant after all”.
But still, it was a big decision to make.
“First of all, I had to make sure that my family was onboard, as it would have resulted in a major change for all of us. After considering the opportunity for a few days, I decided to take the leap of faith and send out my application. Since that day, I have never regretted the decision – I would do it all over again.”
Can you tell us more about what you do? What do you like about your job?
“Our team is responsible for providing various financial services to corporate customers in United States and Canada. These services include for example working capital and customer financing, trade finance, cash management, and leasing".
He explains that there is a solid customer base in US, and most of the customers are currently expanding their business. This means that they need advisory on how to manage their treasury in an efficient way, how to integrate new companies in case of an acquisition, or how to mitigate a trade risk when selling products to their clients, to provide a few examples.
Due to the time difference between Stockholm and New York, Justas starts his day early in the morning with a full mailbox.
“We work very closely with our colleagues in Nordic UK and Germany, as we have common customers. Thus, it is crucial that we are aligned, and we try to use as much time possible to interact with them before they logoff. A typical day continues with customer meetings, internal discussions, activity analysis, and some problem solving”.
Despite the time difference and a busy schedule, Justas says that he gets motivated by collaborating with such professional and skilled colleagues in different parts of SEB. This makes his day interesting and gives him the opportunity to learn and develop new skills.
Moreover, he is especially proud of working at bank who truly stives to help customers realise their ambitions and achieve long-term success.
“Even though profitability and shareholder return are a few of our core priorities, they are complimented by very strong values that we truly live according to”.
“The sustainability aspect is also a very important factor for me personally Therefore, I’m happy that SEB is determined to follow the ESG principles. I truly believe that this is the right way to go, even if it means that we have to decline certain business opportunities".
With your experience, do you have any tips for people who are considering an international career?
“First of all, I think that you need to assess the expatriate opportunity carefully, as it will be a major change not only for you, but also for your close ones. An international assignment should not be the final destination, but an episode in your professional journey. You should also think long-term and consider the next steps when your international assignment comes to an end”.
Justas also believes that having a curious mindset is essential to understand different cultures and environments, which helps you to succeed in an international career.
“Use the opportunity to build a social network. It is as important to build connections in your personal life as it is in your professional one – I think that is key to your overall wellbeing.
Want to know more about what it’s like to pursue an international career? To get more tips from Justas, tune in live to SEB Spotlight on Thursday at 16.00 CET via SEB Career's Instagram account. You can also watch the episode afterwards.