Influential women in technology and science today (IV): blockchain and cryptocurrency
After a while since our last Influential women in tech & science post, we´re back on track with english and women leadership. In this new chapter, we´ll talk about 3 pioneers and experts in cryptocurrency and fintech, one of the most innovative areas in tech right now.
Blockchain, Bitcoins, Ether… since a few years ago all those words are spreading like wildfire. Fintech (or tech applied to finance) has became one of the most important industries in the world, with several companies and platforms devoted or related to it in some way. Behind them, there are visionary professionals that are changing the way we use and understand money and these three leading women are some of them.
Agnes Budzyn, Global Growth Director at ConsenSys
Like most of her colleagues, polish-born Agnes Budzyn comes from the traditional finance world. In 2007 she joined to BlackRock, the investment management giant, where she spent a decade mainly as a bank counselor. The company and mostly herself were very interested in how technology can help them to manage a large amount of data, so they started to research it.
Soon they had several contacts and friends on the emerging universe of blockchain, what leads Agnes to meet Joe Lubin, ConsenSys CEO and cofounder of Ethereum, the open source company that uses “Ehter” as cryptocurrency. ConsenSys is a pioneer company in blockchain technology, which is based on information blocks linked and encrypted for ensuring it´s privacy, plus reducing steps and therefore, costs.
At ConsenSys, Budzyn, which is now a blockchain expert with worldwide recognition, advises governments, banks and big institutions alike. She develops systems that could change the way we´re organized and the relationship that some communities have with monetary transactions. For example, she´s worked in a project in rural areas of the Philippines in which usually people don´t have documentation or access to the bank. Through technology, they´re able to ask for a loan with their fingerprints or with facial recognition.
Neha Narula, Research Director at Digital Currency Initiative (MIT Media Lab)
Neha Narula is also helping to redefine the future of money, although she doesn´t come from the finance world. She defines herself as a currency futurist. Now she´s the Research Director at Digital Currency Initiative, at the MIT Media Lab, where she teaches and leads cryptocurrency-related investigation. Previously, while she was finishing her Computational Science PhD at MIT, she built several scalable databases and safe software systems. She´s also a TED speaker and spreaded her vision about the future of money in several conferences around the world.
Her background is quite impressive, since she was a senior software engineer at Google, helping develop Digg, one of the most famous news aggregator, designing Blobstore, a petabytes storing system and also working on Native Client, a system for native code executing in a safe environment through a browser. As Agnes Budzyn, Neha Narula is now focused in blockchain applied to cryptocurrency and how this may change our near future.
Connie Gallippi, Founder and Executive Director at BitGive
Although we can´t help but think in rich people getting richer or in banks as evil “beings”, these women work on cryptocurrency pretends to help and improve everyone´s lives. Connie Gallippi is one of the clearest examples and she´s a real pioneer amongst pioneers.
In 2013 she founded BitGive, the first non-profit organization that uses bitcoins and blockchain technology in systems for humanitarian work on developing countries. She claims that her inspiration for this project came in the bathroom, during a Bitcoin conference, when cryptocurrency was almost unknown. She came with the idea that people could have a safe way to share and donate their bitcoin earnings. In only two months from that moment, the idea became a reality.
Connie has always worked and fought for diversity and equal opportunities, and spent 15 years in several non-profit organizations in California, in some of which she still participates as a volunteer. Her academic background is a Bachelor´s Degree in Natural Resources from Virginia Tech University.
And this is our top 3 of women in tech, blockchain & cryptocurrency edition, but they´re only a small part of the many women that are working and leading on that area. We were back with new stories of influential women soon :)
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