Maso is a well rounded professional, with expertise in both financial services and engineering industries. He is an ideal addition to Ross Republic’s partner pool to boost both the level of the expertise we offer clients, as well as our internal journey of improvement and growth. We asked him to outline his background, view of the state of the FS world and what he plans to achieve with Ross Republic. Here he is, in his own words.

Maso Arai

I’m a lifetime learner and listener with predominant skillsets in outside-in ecosystem thinking and business development facilitating organizations and their top management to explore and exploit resilient commercial culture. With Ross Republic I am not a consultant nor will I be consulting customers. What I will certainly do is listen and share the desires, dreams, needs, and pains of each of our customers, and help them resolve their pains and find their own path to achieve their goals.

Ecosystem intelligence and human centric leadership

Between 2004 to 2010 I worked in Wärtsilä Global Financial Shared Service Center (FSSC). This period was the kickoff to my ecosystem and system intelligence thinking within both corporate and human centric leadership. I’d like to take the opportunity to give a big thank you to my leaders and colleagues for believing in me and supporting my journey.

Wide horizons and inspiring leaders

FSSC had an amazing 360° overview of the entire end-to-end money-in and money-out flow of the organization’s cycle. Driving transformation initiatives focusing on optimization of purchase to payment and order to cash end-to-end business processes was a life and mind changing experience, which shaped me professionally. But above all, my superiors had a keen interest in human centric leadership and people management. They believed that satisfied people with the right attitudes and motivation performed better as individuals and as a team, and furthermore had an optimal impact on customer satisfaction. They were not wrong.

Hence, we literally practiced and implemented organizational learning, high performing teams, self-organized and learned teams, leadership mentoring and coaching, culture and mental trainings etc. to boost well-being and healthy high performance. All this at a time when FSSC was serving internal customers in 37 different languages in one open office.

After six amazing years I asked myself: “Is this all I can do?”, and the answer resulted in a jump into the unknown.

My four mantras

  • Attitude matters – Positive thinking and behavior has positive impact on yourself and your surroundings.
  • Happiness is a choice – It is my positive decision and my mental choice to be happy.
  • Together we are more – As a team we can achieve more.
  • James Bond never gives up, even in most desperate situation he finds a way out – Regardless of any problem or challenge, focus on solutions with a positive attitude.

Maso Arai

From banking to entrepreneurship

I joined Nordea Bank in 2010. I initially worked together with my Nordic managers and local teams on payments products and operations development. This is where my hands-on know-how and understanding of E2E P2P and O2C from a customer perspective came very valuable.

Future fit, human centric

In 2012 with organization changes I was offered the opportunity to join the Trade Finance Unit with a mission to establish a global strategy development team from scratch. The objective was to make the unit “Future fit, the first choice of Corporate customers”. It was a great journey with wonderful people whom I will remember forever. We created the outside-in strategy that kicked off Nordea’s cross Business unit collaboration project, aiming to develop and commercialize “ONE” unified value proposition for Nordic and International Corporates, brought in a new tech platform to speed up the operations and customer facing channel interactions.

When things started to move smoothly, I decided it is time for me to move on. In 2014 I joined the Corporate digitalization initiative, which kicked off my concluding chapter with Nordea Bank. From digital vision to strategy, to hands-on creation of outside-in and CX driven on-boarding, payment, cash and liquidity management solutions, to implantation of SAFE methodology, to engagement of Business, IT, Operations across Nordea boundaries. From the ashes and chaos, people across Nordea worked together to develop the foundations of today’s Corporate retail Digital banking solution. It was an incredibly eye opening, educational and professionally profound experience.

Startups, Fintechs and Ross Republic

At the very end of 2016 I decided to make another jump into the unknown, and so started my entrepreneurship, start-up and Fintech journey. The initial years were tough but professionally important for me and my development. It was a roller coaster which my beloved wife supported and encouraged at all times. Perhaps the most significant year was when I worked with ePassi Payments on Alipay’s market expansion and European wide mobile wallet collaboration initiative. Digital, digitalization, transformation, commercialization, ecosystems, partnerships, embedded finance, life cycle SuperApp, etc. got a totally new perspective in my mind.

For me entrepereneurship so far has been a fantastic journey with a variety of different clients, projects and partners. This experience brought me to work with RR and finally join as a partner. I’m excited to incorporate and share what I have gained under the RR banner, as the knowledge I have is not for me to keep but rather to spread further on. I am now on the path that mentally makes me happy and professionally challenges me to raise the bar.

The future is life driven

With Fintechs becoming multidimentional and multilayer service providers beyond traditional financial services, banking and financing in the Western world is moving towards how Chinese giants Alipay and WeChat pay have been serving their customers for decade. We see more and more partnerships between banks and fintechs, fintechs and fintechs, and fintechs and non-finance service providers. The way we have known and experienced banking and financing is shifting towards serving human lifecycle needs and desires beyond finance. That being said, everything happens and evolves with following how and where money flows. Consequently I see the future of banking and financial services being life driven.

Joyful experiences with minimal effort

In the multidimensional life of humans and businesses driven by embedded services, finance is just one element. It is an open, interconnected and partially self-evolving intelligent network of ecosystems with the aim to serve a multitude of the parts and segments of the human and business lifecycle. This makes it not so much about banking or finance, but rather solving needs, removing pains, providing joyful experiences and fulfilling desires and dreams in the most relevant moments and yielding the most value with minimal effort.

Flow like water

Considering the current trends and the shift towards more open and interconnected multidimensional ecosystems, the challenges of the FS world increase exponentially. Regulators will need to figure out how and where to follow the money end-to-end as the circle goes beyond banking and finance. Banks will need to find their role in the value chain, as do Fintechs, as more and more non-financial players enter the space traditionally dominated by Banks and Fintechs.

I don’t see ideas and visions being the greatest challenge; there are lots of both out there. Instead, the greatest threat and opportunity, for most businesses is fluidity. With this I mean the business’ capability to adapt to and effortlessly overcome changing environments, shifts in society, unexpected obstacles and changing human needs. Essentially to flow like water through a rocky gully, eventually reaching the sea.

The greatest threat and opportunity, for most businesses, is fluidity.

Whether we talk about vision or strategy development, business commercialization or operations development, my desire is to help humanize and fluidize businesses. This is where I thrive, and why I love being a part of Ross Republic; to help customers humanize their vision, strategy and operations. We are not here to consult businesses, but rather to be consulted and advised by businesses so we can help them shape their path like water, future proof their vision and humanize their strategy to become a reality via everyday business operations and interactions with end customers.

Beyond consulting

“Nothing is set in stone” may be a cliché, but it is the truth about Ross Republic’s way of working with customers. The relationship starts with an empty canvas which is painted with needs, pains, desires and dreams customers want to achieve. We have no one-size- fits all model or cookie cutter agile framework to apply to every business. Instead, we source, benchmark, shape and apply a tailored approach, which in the end presents a unique solution fitting a particular need of the customer.

Partners, not consultants

Ross Republic is all about human interactions and seasoned practitioners, and not as much about being a consultant. We are rather a partner with actual experience in the trenches, and an understanding of the pitfalls, the pains, the joys and success.
My business background is from a large global manufacturing corporate. I had the chance to work with awesome people from around 150 countries and experience a manufacturing and service ecosystem that no bank or financial institution could not, and still cannot, imagine. Combining this expertise with banking, fintech, and entrepreneurship knowledge and know-how – what we can do together in Ross Republic for businesses is beyond consulting.
With Ross Republic I am not a consultant nor will I be consulting customers. What I will certainly do is listen and share the desires, dreams, needs, and pains of each of our customers and help them resolve their pains and find their own path to achieve their goals.

About the author

Jussi Hyttinen, co-founder at Ross Republic

Jussi Hyttinen

Jussi is an ex-R&D engineer and creative, with a head for conceptualization and a passion for building.

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