Let’s be irreplaceable: don’t be a robot!

Rūta Šeškauskaitė, Senior Consultant, Automation & Tech

The people around us will always say that we are in too much of a hurry, that we are only focused on ourselves, that we travel and spend too much, or that we want too much. But who in the world knows what is "too much" and what isn’t? Similarly, what is too early or too late? Why does someone always try to impose their perspective on me and say that I can't do something or want too much, too fast, too soon, just because their lives are different?

 

Like it or not, such thoughts come to me quite often. I have repeatedly heard questions or comments about how I am already a Senior Consultant with so much professional experience at my young age. I think things are a little simpler than they seem – I love the job that I do and I believe in what I do. Maybe it would have been a bit different if I had one day heard that I was too young to work in the position I so coveted at the time – perhaps I would then have believed it and ceased pursuing my dreams. Fortunately, from a young age I didn’t mind going "upstream" if it seemed to me to be the right thing to do. Someone else might say that you can’t do something, or that it’s impossible; that might not necessarily be the case just because they say so.

 

When will robots take away our jobs?

 

Ignorance and fear can often overwhelm us. As a Senior Consultant in the Automation & Tech Department, I don’t only deal with many interesting people and opportunities, but I also face daily challenges. At Danske Bank Newbie Day, we tell new employees about robotics and automation solutions that we have in the bank, and give tips on how everyone can contribute. However, in every session I hear the question "when will robots take our jobs?" I understand them, because what we don’t know or understand always scares us. I was also afraid until I learnt a little more.

 

I started my journey at Danske Bank in the Money Laundering Prevention Unit, which then seemed to me like some sort of covert operation to catch the bad guys. While deeply analysing customer behaviour and data in operations, I was always thinking about LEAN methodology and trying to come up with as many ideas as possible on how to improve procedures, but I had never heard of automation. When my manager suggested that I become a team robotics analyst, I didn't even understand what that was and what I would need to do, but I didn’t hesitate. I remember that in the first few months I felt like I was in another world; I had to realize that a robot isn’t necessarily a physical object – they can be systemic, automating processes. One thing I did then, and still do today, was that I never ceased looking for different ways to optimize teamwork and make work even more interesting using automation. A few months later, we had a new team member, a robot, which allowed us to do more analytical work and feel more satisfied.

 

I’ve never thought that something is impossible. In the same way, I’ve never once thought that robots or automation would completely take our jobs away. We all see how the world changes daily, and we change with it. Until recently, we used mechanical alarms, and we’re now woken up by a pleasant tune on the phone; we used paper maps to guide us while nowadays we can’t imagine travelling GPS-free. Most things and services are changing, and technology is getting smarter. Why are we so reluctant to invite automation into our work while allowing it to occupy our lives so easily? Robots and other smart solutions will not take our jobs – they will transform them or create new ones. Statistics show that even if robots take over 1.8 million jobs, they will create more than 2.3 million.

 

Humanity is irreplaceable

 

Society still needs and will continue to need human contact, empathy, and the feeling that personal communication creates. Nowadays, computers and automated solutions do a great job in creating and applying rules. However, people still have to set goals, interpret results, or make sure that automated solutions are working. It is also known that our machines will not be taught for a long time, just as robots will not be our managers.

 

Perhaps, at this point, I should ask myself what I can do to stand out and remain a valuable employee in the market. No one is irreplaceable, you say? Maybe so, but replacing an excellent employee is not only challenging but also expensive. To be an expert in your field in such a rapidly changing environment will require a lot of learning, reading, listening to different presentations, attending conferences, being in the midst of today's events and generally wanting to know as much as you can.

 

I believe that everyone can achieve what they want most in life. Robots are programmed and run according to rules, but we are human beings and can experiment in different areas to discover where we feel best and what works best. Let's not be robots, and we won't be interchangeable. Let's not be afraid to change – that will only make us stronger in our careers. Let us be guided by inner intuition and set our own boundaries of life. Let us not be afraid to take risks and rejoice in the present and the future.