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Tech can be an unforgiving space for everyone involved. It’s the most competitive and fast-paced environment around today. Male-dominant careers, like finance, software development, and analysis are met with large paychecks in blockchain and technology. It’s a space where boldness and power are favored.
But, the historical gender imbalance doesn’t dictate the future of tech, according to a few female powerhouses in the space. In fact, even acknowledging gender in the discussion could be a contributor to the imbalance, as I learned.
The Big Question: What’s Your C Suite Journey?
As I connected with each of the women in this story, I found that they each had their own story of resilience, hard work, and purpose. The consistent narrative was inspiring as I downloaded each of their mindsets. So, I asked these lady role models of mine a few important questions.
The biggest question I wanted answered?
“How did you get to the C suite?”
Here’s how they responded.
The Women Leading Blockchain Forward
Jurgita Rhodes, COO at Electroneum
“I started in media and production, working on TV in Lithuania. During a holiday around that time in the UK, I ended up getting hired at BBC in London. But I found my interest swaying heavily in the technology side. I loved running the teams and seeing and applying new technology, growing in the program director route.
I then went into consulting from there, taking manageable risks in innovation.
It is a super exciting space, and I loved the concept of running a corporation globally. I became a senior partner in media, specializing in media-tech. I was interested in the startup community and found more interesting technology there.
I was working in consulting in the tech world, and soon enough, the wave of blockchain emerged.
That’s where Electroneum found me. I came in as COO and helped build it from the ground up.
I had vision and expertise, and they needed corporate scalability, operations, and structure. They needed someone with the ability to think ahead and to apply consistency.
Managing risk is something every startup needs, and I’m quite lucky that my background bridges the consulting and corporate aspect.
I’m passionate about blockchain and tech. It needs to have a voice and tends to be misunderstood.
It has a future, and we have such a brilliant community of minds. If I can contribute to bringing them closer to seeing their own vision and deliver it to the masses, it’s exciting to experience that growth.
That growth starts from within.
Building a real solution, testing it with the audience, and having proof that it works.”
CMO at Ares Tech
“What brought me to where I am is most likely curiosity and a pursuit of constant challenge. A passion for learning new things. A passion for innovation.
I was an unsuspecting techie; a former-snowboarder-turned-fashion-designer-turned-law-student.
From law school, I went to work at UBS in Germany in Hamburg, doing wealth management. I worked with ultra-high-net-worth individuals. I soon realized I didn’t learn much about money watching other people’s money grow.
Yes, money begets money, but the core of success is in entrepreneurship.
I really respected tech because they were always innovating – creating their own solutions. I love that pioneering spirit. As entrepreneurs, people build things that never existed before.
Tech is the way for anyone to do that. As Americans, this brings a lot of opportunities to everyone around the world. You just need access to the internet.
I kept seeing these companies without evangelists – without someone to communicate their mission.
I didn’t have a career in this. It’s not something anyone taught me. I just had a natural and innate drive for marketing strategy and tech.
I started in startups. And, that’s where I merged over to blockchain. This is the same – people don’t know the power of the technology. They are learning as they grow. Learning how to design the future, not just a nice dress [as a former fashion designer].
Every day, my knowledge gets outdated.
The beauty of innovation is invention. And that’s creativity. And that’s correlated with my love for design. I can get everything I enjoy all in one industry. Blockchain is actually an inclusive industry!
It’s not a niche industry; it’s a way of life now.”
April Wei, Chief Compliance Officer at Bitmart
“I had been in the traditional legal area for over three years, as a litigator and legal counsel, before joining BitMart in early January 2018 as their Chief Compliance Officer.
BitMart is a start-up business (cryptocurrency exchange) with complicated legal issues to be resolved including tax issues, corporate issues, labor law, immigration laws, and more.
Because blockchain is a cutting-edge technology that attracts entrepreneurs, pioneers, and talents from all over the world, I get to know different types of people and encounter issues that I did not encounter before in the traditional legal area.
As Compliance Officer, it is my job to make sure that BitMart’s business operation in various markets is in compliance with local laws.
It takes great effort and commitment to achieve that goal. I am glad that my team, as young and enthusiastic as they are, are so eager to embrace the regulations.
Working in BitMart has been a terrific, and rewarding experience.”
Tracy Leparulo, CMO at Polymath
“In 2013, I was introduced to a few companies in blockchain and ended up organizing a conference in Toronto as a volunteer. We blasted to a list of 600 people, aged from 12 to 65 years old. But, I was literally the only woman in the room!
As things unfolded, I ended up meeting the whole Ethereum team when we flew them to Toronto for a hackathon at ETHWaterloo, which is the world’s largest ETH hackathon.
From there, I navigated the space with vigor, working with Jaxxs, Kryptokit, and helped launch a product called RushWallet. I went to doing events and speaking, which catapulted me into the ecosystem. I founded a company called Traceable, then eventually went on to do Untraceable.
It’s a lot easier looking back on this, but while it was happening, it was all volunteer. None of us were getting paid.
Now, I am also sitting on the board of CryptoChicks, an international hub for women talent in blockchain technology, and have been focusing a lot on decentralizing and sharing best practices for campaigns. As well as heading up Polymath as the CMO.”
Biggest Takeaway? Volunteering
One of the most interesting findings from this experience was that some people’s largest career leaps came from volunteering: giving, without expecting anything in return.
If you think about it, most of the successful people are philanthropic – because they actually have money to part with. Meaning, if you go to those type events, you’re going to meet successful people. Or, if you host events at no cost to them, they will come!
Seems like an easy hack most people haven’t taken advantage of. Better yet – if we all volunteered more, we’d contribute to a much richer and successful society.
So, whether you’re a male or female is less important, as we’ve learned from above. Alas, it’s more important what you’re willing to give.
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