Sun | Dec 3, 2023

Ricardo Dystant: Marrying skill sets with opportunities

Published:Friday | March 16, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Ricardo Dystant (left), head of eBusiness at JN Bank, assists Chavon Barnes, JN member, in using the card-less ATM machine at JN Bank’s Half-Way Tree branch in St Andrew.

One of the key recommendations for jobseekers in today's employment market is not only to pursue a career that they are passionate about, but to also pay close attention to where the new jobs are coming from and to focus their skills and efforts accordingly.

It's further recommended that given the pace at which technology is impacting the workplace, it is important to be flexible with one's career goals and choices.

For Ricardo Dystant, head of eBusiness at the JN Bank, all key drivers play a key role.

"The world is constantly changing; therefore, you should not be stagnant. One needs to be open-minded and willing to adapt to the environment, to learn and unlearn and relearn," he said.

He completed a Bachelor of Science degree in Computing and Information Technology from the University of Technology (UTech) in 2005, but Dystant has not worked in any traditional IT Department.

During the course of his 13-year career at the former Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), now JN Bank, Dystant has held various positions in different departments, ranging from customer service to security.

"When I first started at the JNBS, I did a short stint in the branch as a member client representative. I've also worked in Mortgage and in the Vault, then I went to the Security Department and eventually to Risk Management," he said.

He said that the movement across several platforms came from his desire to "learn every aspect of the business".

"I have always loved banking and knew I wanted to be in banking; therefore, my desire and goal were to ensure that I understood all the supporting variables, so that I could be good at what I do," he said.

As part of this journey to "learn the business", Dystant went back to school to pursue an MBA in Business and Finance at the University of the West Indies.

"While pursing my MBA, I also completed a Certificate Course in Securities. That gave me a deeper understanding about banking generally and how market conditions can affect profitability," he said.

After completing graduate studies in 2008, Dystant was transferred to the Business Development and Research Unit at JNBS, where he worked as a business development specialist.

He was tasked with the job to explore new business opportunities, managing acquisitions, and restructuring operations to drive profit.


Promoted to manager


In 2011, Dystant was promoted to manager of JN eBanking, where he was able to combine his computing and IT training with his love and knowledge of business and finance.

Since then, he has been instrumental in expanding the institution's online banking services to include: wires, local bank transfers and new billers.

Dystant also managed the upgrade of the LIVE by JN online banking portal to enable ease of use by customers; and supervised the debit card project to increase the card penetration rate in Jamaica from 50 to 73 per cent.

In 2015 he was promoted to interim general manager of JN Cayman, then the National Building Society of Cayman, a member company of the JN Group.

In the Cayman Islands, Dystant led the rebranding of the company and expanding its operations.

Dystant returned to Jamaica and was asked to head JN's eBusiness Unit.

This 33-year-old has lead responsibility for all alternative channels at the JN Bank, including ATMs, online banking and drop boxes.

"We achieved many technical improvements in the portfolio, which have benefited our members and helped to keep JN a head of the technology curve," he said.

Dystant led a team to implement the first card-less ATM in Jamaica.

"We were also the first to have phone top up online and local bank transfers, as well as the first to allow JN members to pay another bank's credit card bill online," he informed.

Dystant said that his satisfaction comes from knowing that, through his efforts, he is contributing to improving the lives of Jamaicans around the globe.

"Nothing feels better than when you implement a new feature that enables a client halfway across the world to seamlessly complete a transaction from their account right here in Jamaica, and they call to say thanks," he informed.

The Wolmer's Boys graduate advised young people to become as thorough as possible and "never become complacent".

"The way the world and technology are going, you must be able to make yourself as unique and as marketable as possible. Therefore, you cannot simply pursue a degree in IT and say well, that's it. You must be willing to attain a combination of skills to make you more attractive to employers," he advised.

"And at the same time, once you're in the role you want to be in, you must constantly ensure that you go back to school to upgrade yourself. Complete a certificate course, attend a conference overseas, read widely and be prepared to work hard," Dystant said.