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Meet The Women Of The Blockchain: “Be confident” With Anna Aubuchon, Director of Business Operations at Civic

Be confident. As a female in a male-dominated industry, being confident is huge. What you portray is what you lead people to believe. How…


Be confident. As a female in a male-dominated industry, being confident is huge. What you portray is what you lead people to believe. How you carry yourself impacts how people perceive you. If you’re confident, people will take you much more seriously. It isn’t always easy, but I have learned to articulate my thoughts and ask the tough questions, especially in a field like blockchain. If it doesn’t make sense to you, chance are that it doesn’t’ make sense to other people either.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Anna Aubuchon, Director of Business Operations at Civic. Anna was a fast-rising high performer at a media and financial data corporation, building and managing a global team early in her career. She took a leap of faith and moved from an established and successful career to join a startup as employee number 28. There, Anna juggled being a new mom and learning a young and budding industry with low female representation.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

My blockchain “backstory”started when I led commercial operations at Gyft, one of the first digital gift card platform to accept Bitcoin. Coming from a traditional financial services background, managing operations for a startup, much less a blockchain startup, was not on my five-year plan. But Gyft allowed me to experience Bitcoin transactions first-hand and learn more about blockchain technology. That opportunity opened my eyes to blockchain’s potential and how it could change the world.

I’m passionate about the social impact of blockchain applications and how this revolutionary technology creates opportunities for people to engage in the world, from accessing online banking services to reducing fees for international money transfers. As an immigrant, born and raised in Hong Kong, I see how blockchain can impact people like myself by breaking down barriers to create a truly more accessible, more global, and more secure economy.

Now, I’m the Director of Business Operations at Civic, a digital identity company that is spearheading the development of Identity.com, an identity verification ecosystem. I’m grateful to be part of a company leveraging blockchain to make a difference and to build a more inclusive world. My primary focus at Civic is designing and creating an internal infrastructure that is built to scale, so that we can bring secure, trusted digital identity to more people around the world.

Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?

The core of Civic’s business is reusable identity verification. “Identity verification” may not be a term that you use on a daily basis, but how you prove who you are is fundamental to engaging in the world like anytime you login into a website or use a credit card. Over the past year, we’ve partnered with over 100 companies on various identity verification projects, from Anheuser-Busch InBev and the world’s first crypto beer vending machine to wikiHow with completely passwordless login.

Amidst this growth, I’m the one responsible for putting definition around a new type of business model and defining process for a company that is still very young. Similar to many startups, it’s critical to our long-term success that we’re able to scale and gain mainstream adoption, so it’s essential that we continue to iterate and refine our onboarding process to ensure minimal friction for new partners and users.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Vinny Lingham, Civic’s CEO and Co-Founder, has been incredibly impactful during my professional journey. I first worked with Vinny at Gyft, where I was the Commercial Operations Manager. Vinny was incredibly pivotal in helping me transition from a career in traditional financial services to a career in emerging technology.

Vinny is a person who leads by example. He’s open-minded and challenges those around him to think outside the box, and he’s always looking to opportunities to grow and improve. More importantly, he empowers those around him and lets them chase their full potential.

What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

Potential for social impact. The more I learn about blockchain, the more I understand the potential to solve really critical issues in our society, like identity verification. Civic is the perfect example with a solution for reusable identity verification that helps people control and protect their personal information. Identity verification goes beyond issues like fraud or identity theft. Accessible identity verification is a tool for the over one billion people who don’t have access to basic identification documents.

Lower barriers for economic entry. This goes hand-in-hand with social impact. As someone who immigrated to America, I see the challenges of proving who you are first-hand. When I moved to America, I could not carry over any previous credit history to the American system, and I couldn’t even get enough credit to purchase a ticket to visit my family in Hong Kong. Blockchain has the potential to break down these barriers and help connect people across the globe.

The opportunity to set an example. Particularly regarding my work at Civic, I’m excited about the opportunity to be a leader in the blockchain space. The industry is currently inundated with negative media and skepticism, but that gives Civic the opportunity to redirect and reshape that conversation to show how blockchain can be used for good and can positively impact our day-to-day lives.

What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

The negative reputation. There has been a lot of negatives news around failing cryptocurrencies, fraudulent ICOs, and scams. I worry that it hinders people’s actual understanding of blockchain. I worry people will focus on certain failures and make generalization about the industry, and the potential blockchain has to solve critical issues will get lost in the conversation.

The lack of understanding. Blockchain is simply an agnostic technology, like the Internet. There are good use cases and bad use cases, but unless people understand the unique characteristics and unique benefits, there will be a lack of adoption. With blockchain, there is this notion that is so difficult to understand. I worry that prevents people, especially women, from getting involved in a cutting edge industry where there is a lot of opportunity for growth.

The lack of women in the industry. The tech industry is known for its ‘bro’ culture, but blockchain has another level of exclusivity, where people are afraid to even broach the subject. Outside of Civic, the number of females that I have worked with is so limited, and I worry that women will be less inclined to pursue blockchain opportunities because of the intimidation factor or a lack of understanding.

The consequences of bad actors: There are a lot of fraudulent token sales and scams that exist within the industry right now, and I worry that people who get into the game and invest without truly understanding the risks could suffer.


How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?

As a manager, one of my goals is to help people I work with see beyond their roles. I want to make sure that people, especially women, have autonomy and exposure that enables them to grow, personally and professionally. I try to lead by example and break down gender barriers and perceived glass ceilings.

During my early days at Gyft, I noticed that one of colleagues was struggling to grow her team as our business scaled dramatically. I wanted to help her solve the issue and lend my voice, platform, and business acumen. Together, we were able to present a forecasting model and business case and grew her team 3x within a short period of time and pulled multiple levers to improve operations.

It might be cliche, but a rising tide lifts all boats. I’m grateful for the opportunities and help that other people have given me. I never take my success for granted and make an effort to help others along the way and empower people to do their best.

What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?

Be confident. As a female in a male-dominated industry, being confident is huge. What you portray is what you lead people to believe. How you carry yourself impacts how people perceive you. If you’re confident, people will take you much more seriously. It isn’t always easy, but I have learned to articulate my thoughts and ask the tough questions, especially in a field like blockchain. If it doesn’t make sense to you, chance are that it doesn’t’ make sense to other people either.

Build relationships. As a working mom, my career is much more than a 9 to 5 job. Take time to build relationships at work, for both your professional and personal sake. You should enjoy where you work, and you should foster that in people you work with too.

Take a leap. If you don’t like where you are, take a chance. When I accepted the job at Gyft, I was intimidated by the newness. I left financial services to pursue some completely different, and it was scary. Yet, it helped me learn and opened my eyes to new experiences and new opportunities.The satisfaction of that decision is so much more than I can put into words. If you’re thinking about a big decision, don’t be afraid to take a chance. Be smart. Weight your pros and cons. But don’t let fear stop you.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment 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 🙂

Sheryl Sandberg. I love her tenacity as a female executive, and I admire her resilience and how she has shared her story with the world. She has been so open about things that are so personal, yet, her vulnerability, sharing those experiences, has so much impact for women around the world who are struggling with the balance between family and work.

Originally published at medium.com

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