In honor of Women’s History Month, we are highlighting some women in tech. Here is our own Board Member, Elisabeth Stahl. She is a Distinguished Engineer for IBM and has been working in IT Optimization for over 25 years. Elisabeth often writes for our blog, but we decided to highlight one of her favorites from her own personal site. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Last week I had the honor of being part of an industry panel entitled “Blockchain and Beyond: Wave or Storm?” This panel was part of the CEO/C-Suite Summit: Engineered for Growth that was hosted by MAVA, a 30-year-old association that focuses on investing in high growth enterprises. Think of a powerhouse for startups.
Many times, when I discuss the benefits and use cases for blockchain I am talking with the system architects, the programmers, the implementers. For this panel I was highlighting blockchain in front of many who could invest, and invest big, in this emerging technology.
Many of the transformational topics I addressed focused on ones I have discussed in the past. How blockchain can reduce costs, eliminate intermediaries, reduce time, and increase trust. How there are many differences between an enterprise permissioned blockchain and a permission-less cryptocurrency. How large organizations are using blockchain technology—such as Maersk tracking shipping containers, Walmart tracing pork products, and Northern Trust managing private equity.
But for this panel there was also an investment perspective: Where is blockchain on the hype and adoption curves? What did we think of the latest bitcoin value? Is it the Wild West or time to invest?
After my panel I attended an amazing CTO roundtable with a group of diverse technologists: a data analytics startup CTO, a Fintech advertising technologist, an academic research chief scientist, a VP of technology of an education startup, and a cybersecurity defense consultant (who could not tell us very much about what he does!). It was awesome to collaborate and realize that we all had similar challenges: everything from data accuracy to security encryption to hiring for our teams. Fun fact: Three of the six CTOs in the room had an advanced degree in Physics and were now working in Machine Learning.
The final session in the event was “Perspectives on the Acquisition from Both Sides,” fascinating lessons learned from founders of companies who then went on to acquire other companies or be acquired. One thing I learned is that it can sometimes take many, many years for an acquisition. That you need to be able to walk away. That you need to realize that a great mark of success for a startup is to take part in either acquiring or being acquired. And that CEOs of startups wear jeans and cool socks!
The luncheon speaker was NY Times best-selling author Liza Mundy who wrote, “Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II.” We heard a compelling historical perspective on the foundation upon which the technology community today has been built. Super inspiring.
Note that this Summit was not three days, not two days, or even one day. It was a few hours. I have been seeing this trend with the workshops and meet ups that I do. Everyone is looking to get more in less time. This event really showed me how well this can work.
In a similar vein, I also had a discussion with a CEO of a technology startup who told me that he is done with reading 5-page papers—I did not let on that I used to write 50-page papers! He told me he gets the most value from an infographic or a very short article where a couple of key insights are highlighted.
MAVA’s goal with these events is to deliver compelling insight, ideas and perspectives to fuel significant competitive advantage for companies being built. They definitely hit a home run with this one.
To read more from Elisabeth’s blog, click here.