What do robotics and marathons have in common?

Monika Uldukyte, Robotics Factory Lead, runner

fds


Running is easy. You just get up and run. Managing your Robotics unit is easy too – just keep it going. And the rest is details. Those details take up all my time, make me seek out creative solutions, observe situations from all angles; from below; from above.

 

Running and working can be boring, but it can be incredibly exciting when you put your mind to it. Every situation is objective – only people give them adjectives.
When eight robots suddenly stop working on a beautiful Tuesday morning, the situation can be called a disaster. But it’s also possible to look at it optimistically, creatively, catch your breath and move on. Things are at their most interesting when you don’t even know the first step and you have very few colleagues to consult. This could be, for instance, because no one in the bank has ever terminated eight robots at a time.

 

The Transformation and Implementation (T&I) team doesn’t create the robots themselves. To be exact, these ‘robots’ are actually bots that work on virtual computers. They’re usually invisible to humans, only to be noticed when they output daily reports, or if someone in the team notices something unusual. These are called ‘scheduled robots’, but there are other kinds too. For example, another kind of robot can be manually launched by an employee when required.

 

It takes a strong and motivated team to turn an initial concept into a robot. This is where the interesting part begins. Every person you interact with is unique, and you need to discover the most appropriate channels and techniques to collaborate successfully with them. After all, we are not all perpetually smiling extraverts whose mood and daily achievements can be surmised with a quick glance. And if it's a Bangalore colleague who won’t turn on his camera when I ask if everything is OK; if he needs any help? Who, during our talk, would shake his head vigorously, saying "No, I'm missing test tasks, time and help from others" (and this is just a hypothetical situation! Our colleagues from distant India are cool, talkative people). This situation could be interpreted as a major obstacle, but it would be way more interesting to classify it as a kind of Charade, and try to find the best way to communicate.

 

My job is to ensure that the CSD Transaction Services department develops automated solutions to facilitate daily work of specialists.

 

This job is very diverse: you may need to order or block payment cards, check suspicious orders, or transfer funds to your customer on time. Many processes are already automated, so the development of new robots also involves the maintenance of the old ones, as robots are solutions that are built on top of the existing systems. They are tools that cannot work properly if their foundations are changed.


For example, if a new line appears in the portal's menu bar, and if the Robotics engineers’ team doesn't have time to prepare for those changes, it’s very likely that the robots will stop working. And it almost always stops, to the dismay of operation teams once they suddenly realize that the robot's work… is quite beneficial.


From a human point of view, it is very interesting to watch how colleagues handle (and dramatize) these situations. Of course, the Digitalization Chapter isn’t gawking at these panicking teams through a porthole. We are the people who our colleagues can turn to in times of trouble (and they very often do). That said, in case of emergency I suggest calming down and taking ten deep breaths.


How are robots created in the bank? In an ideal world, some colleagues write instructions (step-by-step, in great detail, with all possible and impossible scenarios), while others build robots (i.e., logic) on this framework in order to facilitate operations specialists’ daily routine. To symbolize this, I could draw a straight line. But the reality is more like a zig-zag that splits into three lines halfway down: one wavy, the other angled, and the third circling everything at least four times, adding a rainbow, some polka dots, question marks, and drawing a snowflake for good measure.


Lost track? I know I did. But such is our daily routine. Engineers break their heads in search of the cause of the problem, dedicate two days to it, stress out because none of their hypotheses are true, and then someone comes out of the woodwork to say, "Oh, I didn't upload that file by accident." Or we get an email from colleagues in India that no robot has started working at all for some technical reason. And we’re stood there with our colleagues, looking at that email in disbelief (once again forgetting to breathe).


In such situations, it’s best to remember that on the sixth floor you’ll find Oasis, where you can escape to for a short while, fall into your chair and get lost in your thoughts. If it's too spacious or "not the right aura," I can personally get motivated on the basement floor, close to the elevator where the best employee results achieved at the Danske Bank Vilnius Marathon are exhibited. IIf my colleagues and I can run marathons (even the real ones, 42 km runs), we can achieve anything.


I believe that the most important thing is to set a meaningful goal; and the rest is details.