Mindaugas: “Diversity gives us more knowledge and allows us to look at the same things from different angles”
May is International Diversity Month. Diversity gives us more knowledge and allows us to look at the same things from different angles. So says Mindaugas Sujeta, Product Owner at SEB Bank, who started his career at the bank as a lawyer. Read our interview with Mindaugas to find out more about the benefits and challenges of career change.
How did your career at SEB start?
A friend called to say that SEB Bank was looking for a lawyer. One job interview, before which I was taken to meet the future team. Another interview with the bank’s then manager, during which I learned a lesson about SEB’s approach to clients and the bank’s values. To be honest, I felt that I had done poorly in the interview and that the opportunity to get a job at the bank, which seemed to be just around the corner after the first interview, was slipping away. However, I soon received an invitation to join the bank. They must have seen something in me that I didn’t even notice in myself.
What prompted the shift from law to product development? Tell us the story of your career change.
A desire to change and to make a difference. Ironically, it was a call again. This time from a colleague. Coincidentally, the project to change the banking system needed all hands, even the most awkward, and I felt I had been stuck in the same position as a lawyer for far too long. It was a difficult decision. I tried various ways to “calculate” which path would be better in the long term. After a long week of hesitation, I realised that you can’t calculate these things. Every action we take has a result, which can only be properly assessed in retrospect. I decided to take the risk and correct things in the future if necessary. I believe that risk is inevitable when changing career paths, so it is important to ask yourself what is more important - the fear of change or the desire to change.
What challenges have you faced in making a horizontal career change?
The hardest part was letting go of what I had accumulated in my law studies at university and then in my legal work for many years. It is my education, my knowledge, my valuable legal work experience and the profession itself, which I really enjoyed. It certainly wasn’t that I was in a job I didn’t like and looking for a way out. At the same time, there was a strong sense of uncertainty that I would have to move from a professional field where I felt quite comfortable to one where I didn’t understand or know anything. I was afraid that I would not live up to expectations and that I would disappoint the people who trusted me.
What has this change taught you?
First of all, trust. When I saw that people appreciated the first results of my new job, I was very relieved. Until then, I thought I knew nothing but legal work, but very quickly I realised that I could do pretty much anything. It sounds quite bold, but it is a very strong feeling that I wish everyone could experience. Of course, with new responsibilities, experience and knowledge grow and they can be combined to produce even better results.
What advice would you give to those looking to change career direction?
To not be afraid. Don’t wait for calls. The world is much more interesting than it seems at first glance, and all things can be learned.
What competences acquired in your legal position do you use when working on product development?
A lawyer’s work is based on logical analysis of actions. Just like the code programmers write. Although I can’t read code at all, a similar way of thinking helps us to communicate with each other and find the right solutions faster. Legal knowledge and experience of working in different areas allows me to look at the same things from a different angle, to connect the dots and find new creative ideas. I also have no problem finding common ground with my colleagues in the legal department when necessary.