“So far, I have focused on making a positive impact through my career because it is how I spend most of my time and have the most influence. That is a key reason why I work for a consultancy. Rather than impacting just the company I work for, I have the opportunity to work with clients to affect a network if enterprises. I’m really at the beginning of my journey, and I will continue working to find practical ways to influence and teach people about the opportunity of creating value with fewer consequences along the way.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Danielle Stanko from Tata Consultancy Services. As a blockchain business analyst, Danielle is passionate about the intersection of blockchain and sustainability. She has a unique perspective on how we can make significant progress with business to global sustainability initiatives if we apply the right motivational tools (e.g. money!). She is working to design decentralized models that create economic incentives and allow companies, organizations, communities or individuals to profit from doing social good.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I’ve been concerned about the world around me since I was little. First, I wanted to help animals, which expanded to people as I realized we were vulnerable too. Following my passion for sustainability, I joined a council during college that advised Penn State University executives on sustainability strategies. In making recommendations, I found that money was the common denominator of implementation.
Solutions that made sense from both a sustainability standpoint and economically frequently got implemented, but not the other way around. This got me interested in the connection between incentives and sustainability. When I started learning about blockchain and its ties to economic incentives, I got excited because, until that point, policy seemed to be the only way to make sustainability profitable for business. That energy and excitement led me to explore blockchain’s ability to create new incentives for sustainability in business and for individuals.
Can you tell me about the most interesting project you are working on now?
The most interesting project I am working on is coming up with an organization and token structure that could incent people to care for the “commons”. The commons are the land and the resources we all share. They are often taken for granted, like the water that comes out of the faucet, the air we breathe, or free information on the internet.
Unless sufficient incentives are in place, people will, and have, degraded them to dangerous levels. I want to determine if it’s possible to create a stable token model that pays people or organizations for their contribution to a commons, underpinned by blockchain. I’m collaborating with my colleagues David Kish and Andreas Freund at TCS to develop this, and plan to start testing key assumptions as our next step.
None of us achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a person whom you are grateful toward who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have been helped, influenced, and encouraged by a lot of people throughout my life. In my professional journey, I am incredibly grateful for my coworker, friend, and mentor David Kish. He is responsible for recruiting me into TCS, and has opened my mind to many new ways of thinking. To be truthful, I think all of his coworkers can say the same, and I am one of the lucky ones to cross his path. His mentorship and advice got me into blockchain in the first place, and since then we’ve worked together to create unique perspectives on how to apply blockchain and ecosystem thinking to business.
What are 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- Blockchain can be used to build p2p community tools, pulled together with a cryptocurrency that represents the community’s values.
- Blockchain’s ability to support transactions without an intermediary means new ways of organizing are possible.
- Blockchain can leapfrog technology that was never implemented in developing areas of the world, and provide a better solution. For example, decentralized digital identities can help the unbanked even if centralized banking infrastructure is not well established.
- Blockchain startups raise awareness of different ways to organize economic activity. A lot of people don’t consider alternatives to the way business and the economy run today. Cryptocurrencies get people to ask, how is this different from a dollar or a stock?
- You can use it with smartphones. Adoption barriers can become relatively low if blockchain “dApps” run on smartphones the same way as web apps and don’t require new infrastructure, unlike innovations like the electric vehicle.
What are 5 things that worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- If there is no way for data to be “forgotten,” mistakes from previous stages in life could haunt people forever. If we think information on the internet cannot be taken back, blockchain’s promise of immutability could make that worse without careful consideration.
- People designing the backend with bad intentions, then putting really good marketing and user interfaces on top. Although it’s a “trustless” technology, the developers must be trusted if you can’t interpret code.
- Anonymous cryptocurrencies could accelerate illicit markets by being more efficient to transact and as untraceable as cash.
- If crypto becomes the prominent means of transacting value, intermediary companies and their employees could become obsolete. This disruption will hurt some people’s careers in the short run, but hopefully it will be positive in the long run.
- Regulations becoming too restrictive for diverse project types to mature, stifling blockchain innovation.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
So far, I have focused on making a positive impact through my career because it is how I spend most of my time and have the most influence. That is a key reason why I work for a consultancy. Rather than impacting just the company I work for, I have the opportunity to work with clients to affect a network if enterprises. I’m really at the beginning of my journey, and I will continue working to find practical ways to influence and teach people about the opportunity of creating value with fewer consequences along the way.
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
- There are defined career paths, but you don’t have to follow them. Focus on your passion and related skills. For me, this is sustainability, which has no predefined career path. This led me through an apparently disconnected, but very purposeful journey: I started college in Environmental Engineering, switched to Chemical Engineering, got a job as a Business Analyst, and now work on blockchain.
- Don’t shy away from difficult or vague opportunities. Just go for it. If you fail, you find a limit to push. If not, you have something to be proud of. I was invited to co-author an article on blockchain and economics. I didn’t consider myself an expert, and it required a lot of work. However, it became my first peer reviewed publication and contributes to an emerging field.
- When you don’t understand something, look it up. This can be tedious, but will keep you learning, engaged, and on your toes.
Some of the biggest names in business, VC funding, sports, and entertainment may read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this 🙂
There has never been a single person that I really wanted to meet; it changes over time, and right now it would be Michel Bauwens. You can probably pick up a common theme in my viewpoints, and I am really interested in economic models and preserving the commons. Bauwens is one of the experts and practitioners in the field, and I would love to talk with him about his experiences and insights.
Originally published at medium.com