Zil Bareisis has spent the last 20+ years advising companies on their business and technology strategies. When he's not exploring the latest trends in payments innovation, you'll find Zil digging the crates to unearth that special vinyl record on his travels, or teaching his boys how to play the piano.
Where are you from originally / Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Lithuania, one of the Baltic states. At the time it was part of the Soviet Union, which started crumbling apart when I was in my teens. I witnessed first-hand the remarkable transition from a society run by a Communist Party to a real democracy.
Where do you currently reside?
I now live in the UK, just on the outskirts of London. I came to the UK over 20 years ago, so “home” is very much here now. My two boys were born here, although my wife is also Lithuanian, so you would hear a mix of Lithuanian and English spoken in our household every day.
What was a turning point for you?
There were a few important moments, but the pivotal point was probably gaining a scholarship to study at the Carnegie Mellon business school in the US. My first degree was in Applied Mathematics, which gave me a grounding in technology. I remember writing in my essay application to the business school that further education in business would enable me to “operate at the intersection of business and technology.” And that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last 20+ years!
What is your favorite city/place you’ve traveled?
There are so many wonderful places, especially if you can take the time to explore and absorb the culture. I am lucky that throughout my career I’ve been able to travel far and wide – all over Europe and the US, from Tokyo to Sydney, and from Moscow to Istanbul. Bruges in Belgium left a lasting impression on a 20-year-old me, but if I had to choose one place it would probably be Venice – despite a valid criticism of being rather touristy, it’s still a magical place. Being invited to the home of a senior banking executive in Saudi Arabia for dinner was also a fantastic and memorable experience.
Music, no question about it. I started playing the piano when I was 5, and by the ripe age of 8 had to choose between going to a specialist boarding school to train as a concert pianist or continue with regular education. I chose the latter and never regretted that decision. I still play – it’s a great way to relax, but now spend more time by the piano teaching my boys. I am also an avid collector of vinyl records and CDs. I am not against digital music, but the physical format is still hugely important to me.
Favorite Band / Music / Song?
An impossible question to answer! Tom Moon, a writer and music reviewer, said, “the more you love music, the more music you love,” and I completely agree. These days I listen to a lot of jazz; the current crop of young British jazz musicians is just amazing and shows how the genre can adapt and evolve. I also love unearthing obscure psychedelic and prog rock records. If I had to put someone on the pedestal, it would be Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, the two bands that have been with me for a long time.
Favorite Food Dish?
Chinese! One of my guilty pleasures is General Tso chicken, which I discovered when I was living in the US; we don't really have it in the UK, so I try to have my “fix” whenever I am visiting the US now.
What does being an analyst mean?
The world of financial services technology is changing faster than ever before. Navigating that change, sorting out the hype from reality, and knowing what to pay attention to when, can be a daunting task for the executives. Having a trusted partner to bounce around ideas can help make sense of it all. We also help clients learn from each other, both through our network of connections, and through more formal best practice capture, such as case studies.
What do you enjoy about your work?
The never-ending learning. Luckily, we learn from every interaction with the clients and prospects. I also love digging into new topics, putting structure around the key issues, and developing a point of view to discuss and debate with clients.
WHAT’S UP NEXT FOR YOUR RESEARCH?
I am currently exploring how card issuers and acquirers are modernizing their technology infrastructures to deal with the “legacy challenge.” Going forward, I’d like to revisit digital enablement and tokenization, which has been evolving rapidly over the last few years. And of course, will continue to monitor the changes sweeping through Europe, such as PSD2.