“…we have several initiatives that are aiming at bring good to the world. Along with working to launch a social impact Working Group, we have worked on an associate member program for universities and research institutions. We really want to make sure that students from around the world get access to the cutting edge technology and enterprises that can help them. We are also members of the ID2020 movement that aims to build an identity system for 1.3 billion people that today have no protection due to lack of any documents.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Marta Piekarska, Director of Ecosystem for Hyperledger. Marta obtained her BSc in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Warsaw University of Technology and a double Master from Computer Science and Informatics at Technical University of Berlin and Warsaw University of Technology. Marta received a PhD in User-Informed Design of Privacy Tools while working at one of the hottest startups in Silicon Valley — Blockstream. Marta also taught at Technical University of Berlin as a Post-doc. As part of her role in Hyperledger Marta evangelizes the technology and Open Source at conferences around the world and helps enterprises with applying permissioned Blockchains to their use-cases. Marta is passionate about how Blockchain can help in non traditional spaces, such as identity, last mile aid and education delivery and sustainability.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
My back story is very cheesy. I always wanted to make an impact, and improve user’s lives. I wanted to be a journalist and a reporter like my parents. But by a twist of events, or maybe because I really didn’t want to follow in their footsteps, I ended up studying Electrical and Computer engineering, instead of taking up a place in Cambridge University doing Social and Economic Studies. After a couple of months, I realized that computers and programming is the best thing I have ever tried. So I stayed, and continued with a Master degree and then a PhD. I loved security, but it didn’t quite feel like I was changing or improving anything. It felt like I was solving problems that were only created because we created computers. Then I met some amazing people, who really inspired me. They told be about Blockchain and Bitcoin and I realized that with this tech we really can improve the world, not just artificially solve problems.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
I love everything we do in Hyperledger. Being able to work with 250 members, means that on any given day I can dive into Healthcare in the morning, discuss sharing medical records, and then in the evening go to a meetup on smart legal contracts. Being able to bridge different worlds, understanding what the amazing people in this industry are doing and translate how that can be applied in different settings is so much fun and such a great challenge. I love feeling like I’m the least smartest person in the world, and my mind is blown away with what you can do with Blockchain.
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?
There were so many people who made helped make me who I am today. My father never let me sit down in one place and relax, always challenged me and told me there is more to be done. My mother is my moral support and taught me how to appreciate the world. 15 years of horse riding on national and international level with various couches showed me that even if you are winning today, that’s just a stop and there will be times when you also fail. The question is how you get up and convert what you learned into more successes. And then there are the technology supporters and teachers. I was extremely lucky to be working with some of the smartest people in the area: my supervisor recognized I was better suited for business than academic research and really pushed me to that world. Hyperledger’s Executive Director, Brian Behlendorf constantly inspires me by teaching how to be humble, hopeful, helpful with our members. There are some more personal stories of people who really teach me every day, but I think its enough.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
I love how Blockchain revisits trust. In a traditional setting of human interactions, we need to trust what people say or do. We have no way of truly verifying that they wont change what they once claimed. By providing auditability of things that go on a blockchain, we can really be sure that they can’t be changed. The other thing is how versatile this technology is, and how it can be applied to cool and impactful projects, like identity or sustainability. Next on my list is how it forces people to collaborate and look outside of the box. And how it lets us revisit problems very few want to touch — like banking the unbanked or humanitarian aid delivery. It is a great incentivize to touch less “sexy” topics that seemed unsolvable.
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
I worry that we are rushing the adoption too much, that we are so excited about the possibilities we will forget to think about the consequences. I am worried that we have no way of communicating the limits and problems to the decision makers. Lack of a common taxonomy is also a big problem. We often say the same words meaning different things and miscommunicate intentions. It is a tech that brings so many international players into the table, but we haven’t yet established how to talk about it.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
Within Hyperledger we have several initiatives that are aiming at bring good to the world. Along with working to launch social impact Working Group, we have worked on an associate member program for universities and research institutions. We really want to make sure that students from around the world get access to the cutting edge technology and enterprises that can help them. We are also members of the ID2020 movement that aims to build an identity system for 1.3 billion people that today have no protection due to lack of any documents.
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
Humbleness, never let failure get to you — get up and learn, know that anyone can teach you the most valuable lesson in your life: don’t get impressed just with titles. And mostly: it is your life and you create it. Don’t let others project on you what you should do.
Thank you so much for joining us!
Originally published at medium.com