Founder & CEO, ConsenSys Health; Chair, IEEE SA P2418.6; Co-Chair, HIMSS Blockchain Task Force; Co-Founder & Chair, BiHG
Heather’s experience in the world of tech began in 1994. Currently, she and her team at ConsenSys Health are leveraging blockchain, machine learning, and advanced privacy preservation technologies. The goal is to converge these three families of emerging technologies and get them working together to integrate their force-multiplying possibilities and capabilities.
1. What’s the most exciting aspect of blockchain industry?
It’s the possibility for creating entirely new business models. We have opportunities to apply game theory and behavioral economics that are completely fascinating. And, it’s not just that we’re looking at how an emerging technology affects commerce and business, but also how it affects every aspect of a human being’s life and every sector from private citizens to governments and corporations. It gives us an opportunity to re-evaluate our structures. The entire design of the system can be rethought and reconsidered and experimented with. And that is just exhilarating!
2. Why is it important to bring more women into blockchain?
The reason we have such disparities in blockchain is because the disparities exist in the system. Of course, it’s important to resolve those inequalities. Men and women are all unique individuals. But, we do know certain things about men and women on the aggregate. And, we know that teams that are diverse, not only in gender but in age and ethnicity and religion and sexual orientation and in so many other ways, are higher performing teams. And, women have unique attributes that really help balance the situation. We tend to be incrementally less hierarchical and more inclusive in our style and strategy. We are generally more oriented around seeing partners and collaborators where others might see competitors. That particular angle is very important in blockchain because, with these new business models, we have the opportunity to elevate different aspects of business from the basis of competition. It requires us to relate to and engage with people that are in our current modality. I think women may have an easier time approaching things that way. I know many amazing women in blockchain, but they are definitely the minority. That being said, one of the things that’s great about blockchain is that there are other disciplines that are very critical to our field where women are better represented, like law for example. There are vast sweeping legal and policy and compliance matters that need to be resolved as we drive the adoption of this technology. Fortunately, there are a number of powerhouse legal minds that are women who are really contributing to that part of blockchain’s implementation.
3. What’s the most valuable advice you have received in your career and would like to pass on?
I once received advice about uncertainty in reaction to a statement I made about how really fatigued and frustrated I was during an extended period of uncertainty. At that time, I just wanted some certitude. The advice that I received was that I had to reverse my association with uncertainty. Instead of having it be a negative association that made me feel uncomfortable, I instead needed to make it into a positive association where uncertainty let me know that I was really alive. This made me willing to move into the unknown where others are also afraid, but being able to feel joyful because I have this mark of courage. There will always be so many unknowns, so I’m not waiting for them to somehow be resolved because, as soon as one is resolved, another one opens. That has been very impactful on my professional life.