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UTRUST’s Sanja Kon reveals theory about why there is a lack of women in blockchain jobs

UTRUST VP of Global Partnerships, Sanja Kon, spoke to Coin Rivet about the troubling lack of diversity in the blockchain space as well as the technology itself

UTRUST’s VP of Global Partnerships, Sanja Kon, has an interesting theory as to why women are underrepresented in the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry.

Diversity is key

Kon, who worked in senior roles at PayPal and eBay before joining UTRUST, told Coin Rivet: “I have my own theory about this. One of the major barriers is if you think about how people are hired for a role. We hire by association to someone who is similar to us”.

“The kind of leadership that I am going to hire in my company is similar to whoever is hiring, so if you think about blockchain and start-ups, these are dominated by male CEOs. The simplest thing one can do is hire by similarity. That’s my theory because when I worked at PayPal and eBay, you had someone who helped you create diversity, so we had diversity chief executives. If you have a HR system that helps you moderate that diversity, it helps you recognise the different profiles, onboarding and hiring process. The hiring by association approaches creates a more male-dominated industry.”

When asked whether she had faced difficulties breaking into a male-dominated industry, Kon said her case is different as she doesn’t view herself “as a male or female, only as a person with skills”.

“Many women are afraid to do that because it’s such a male-dominated industry, and it can be challenging but if you put yourself out there and you clarify what is the knowledge and skills you bring, then it’s not so difficult. It’s just a matter of recognising that we are not men and women, we are people bringing diversity and skills. When you have that mindset the less challenging it is to actually enter that world.”

The former PayPal Head of Marketplaces revealed how in “95%-99% of cases,” she is the “only female speaker at conferences”.

She added: “It’s really strange and kind of funny, but that’s what happens”.

Can UTRUST disrupt PayPal?

After finding out about blockchain in early 2018, Kon gave Coin Rivet an insight into PayPal’s opinion on the emerging technology and asset class.

“I was the head of marketplaces at PayPal, meaning that my team was developing the payment platform to serve marketplace players. In marketplaces there are a lot of international payments, how the model was structured was that payments were really slow and costly for merchants. So, I started my research on blockchain based payments because I wanted to integrate that into PayPal’s platform. That’s how I got more interested in it and eventually I met Nuno Correia, the CEO of UTRUST.”

She then revealed that Daniel Schulman, CEO of PayPal, doesn’t feel threatened by crypto because it “isn’t recognised as a mass-adopted payment system,” but they do “see value in blockchain as a technology for things like identity management”.

Regulatory concerns and impact on brand image were also raised, with Kon stating that while “each company has a different mindset in terms of approach to blockchain,” the main companies simply “don’t want to process cryptocurrencies within their payment processors, partly due to regulation and partly due to brand damage”.

Aside from the payments processing industry, the UTRUST VP of Global Partnerships believes that blockchain has the “potential to disrupt all of the major industries”.

“From identity management, real estate, insurance, retail to supply-chain management, each industry has the potential to be highly disrupted by blockchain”, she added. “With e-commerce especially, it lowers the cost, so merchants will have higher ROI which they can invest in lowering prices. So the biggest impact I see is on e-commerce and trade in general, especially for international commerce.”

How have UTRUST managed the bear market?

In January 2019, Coin Rivet interviewed CEO of Pillar Project, David Siegel. At the time he explained how difficult it was to operate a company during a bear market, citing the volatility as his company’s potential downfall.

However, UTRUST, which is described as a “crypto to fiat payment platform that allows buyers, anyone in the world, to pay with their favourite cryptocurrencies,” have a contrarian view, with Kon believing that the bear market is actually “amazing and great”.

She revealed: “So I’m going to say something that sounds strange, but we think at UTRUST that the situation in the market today, the bear market, is a great opportunity to focus on building the foundations for the UTRUST ecosystem.

That’s because it helps you clear the market from all of the companies that do not have a solid product and only did an ICO to raise money without having a concrete solution to offer.

Everything will clear out, this is what happened with the dot com and the internet, so you need to have a situation where you clear out from anything that is not providing value. So I think the situation now is actually great for companies like ourselves”.

She added: “We are actually very busy right now, preparing for global launch which is happening soon. We have a lot of interesting news and exciting partnerships coming out”.

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