Today, we need intermediaries for many transactions, for verification of identity or transaction, or both (public notaries, financial intermediaries). Blockchain allows transaction without intermediaries. This is a matter of disruption. What does that mean for career planning, what career profiles are required and what can women contribute to it?

„They look for flexible people“

herCAREER: What skills should women bring to the table when pursuing a career in a blockchain-based business?

Wendt:  Most of the skills that we see in traditional business are needed in blockchain too. Let me start with explaining the process for a newly build company. When a blockchain company starts to come into being, it has just an additional opportunity to raise funds through a public fundraising for entrepreneurial purposes without the need for a bank or other intermediary to distribute the ”coins” or “tokens” that are issued. That form of fundraising is called Independent coin offering or ICO. What is needed to make the public fundraising and the company a success is community building skills, networking skills, communication and marketing skills. Newly build blockchain companies very often address a societal problem and want to create access to products and services for new customer segments. You have topics like smart cities, smart mobility, smart services, democratization of education, access to knowledge and so on. Technology is so important to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, which are implemented now in national development plans through the Agenda 2030. The Sustainable Development Goals cannot be achieved without clever use of technology.

The United Nations want to achieve the 17 Goals through growth. Growth means resource usage. We are already beyond planetary boundaries in our resource usage. So we need to grow without using more resourced, decouple growth form resource usage. This dovetails nicely with social interest many women have. So all the skills women are traditionally good at are required. Plus creativity. Creativity is vitally important for the promotion of tokens or coins and for business, product and market development. Creativity comes on top of the traditional female skills: communication, marketing, networking, HR, compliance, business development, finance, quality. So there is plenty of space for women with non-technical professions. It is really the EQ component which is important. According to a large body of research women like to work in less hierarchical structures, as hierarchy has often turned out to advancement. Blockchain companies enjoy very flat hierarchies. So if you are EQ driven and understand to interpret data, it is a perfect space for you and more a friend then a foe. What you can learn in the space is to trust technology. This is a key issue, as normally we are used to trust into an intermediary, an institution a public notary.

herCAREER: Blockchain seems to be everywhere these days – and it seems to be a technology that has come to stay. Where do we start when looking at jobs around blockchain?

Wendt: In Switzerland it is quite obvious, you start in the Cryptovalley Zug. Lots of events, conferences dinners going on here. A good source for learning what is going on is Daily FinTech a blog providing daily original insights by a selected team of market practitioners. Daily Fintech is insights driven not news driven, it is written by practitioners including important female influencers like Efi Pilarinou. Also finnews does a great job in disseminating important information. In Germany there is an ecosystem in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich which has developed rapidly. If you want to know what is happening I recommend finletter. There are lots of soucres for women to get information, lots of conferences, hackathons, meet ups.

KIMETA and Indeed have lots of block chain or fintech jobs in offer. And of course networking at her career and get first hand experience is key. Human communication and physical presence has never been more important than now in the age of digitalization. “So the most exciting breakthroughs of the twenty-first century will not occur because of technology, but because of an expanding concept of what it means to be human.” There are also various banks and Sparkassen in Germany offering very good blockchain courses at very competitive prices.

herCAREER: What do companies look for when they look for talent to work around the blockchain technology?

Wendt: They look for flexible people that ideally have knowledge in agile methods like SCRUM for instance, want to make the world a better place and love to work in a non-hierarchical team. The most important competence is wanting to learn and grow, having a growth mindset. Being a fast mover is likewise a pro. There are enough people around that understand technology. But technology alone without the community building skills will only take you half way. And this is the big opportunity for women. The blockchain space offers all women need, technology can be learned, digital competences too. The EU has developed a framework of digital competencies, DigComp, requiring 5 competencies: understanding digital content, information and data, communication and collaboration, preparedness to create digital content, problem solving and awareness for safety issues. This is a quite good summary of what is needed. Female professional have that all. Finally the match between personalities in the team is the game changer, let me add that. So anybody wanting to learn and grow, expanding his or her personality is welcome. I spoke to many male professionals, they welcome females to the space. Her career is the perfect place to start and to take influence on your future.

herCAREER: At herCAREER, the main focus is on professional exchange based on the personal experience and knowledge of the sparring partner. It is also important to us as organizers to continue to network women beyond the fair. As our sparring partner at the herCAREER MeetUps, we would therefore like to ask you whether you would like to would also act as a sparring partner beyond participation in the trade fair? If so, we ask you to name the topics for which you would act as a sparring partner in keywords.

  • Sustainable Finance
  • Blockchain
  • Digital Transformation
  • Smart Cities

herCAREER: Are there topics for which you are personally looking for a sparring partner and would like to continue a professional and personal exchange? Then give us keywords for your topics.

  • Smart Cities
  • Leadership 4.0
  • Scaling Series A

herCAREER: How would you like to be contacted?

About this person

Karen Wendt is the president of SwissFinTechLadies and editor of the Sustainable Finance Series with Springer Science Publishing. She merges 20 years of investment banking with digitalization, blockchain, leadership 4.0, design thinking and ideation. Karen is a frequent speaker at events, in radio and TV and the CEO of Eccos Impact GmbH. She won with peers the Financial Times Sustainability Award in 2007 for the introduction of an extra-financial risk management framework in investment banking. Karen holds an MBA from the University of Liverpool.

This MeetUp was part of the Career MeetUps at herCAREER 2019, see the program for location and time.