“Believe that you can do it. Don’t be afraid to try new things or to go out of your comfort zone. Yes, it usually hurts, but it is supposed to hurt — only to discover the gain was much greater than the initial pain. If you have the determination and belief then you will succeed.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Mirta Jarnjak, CMO at Sophia TX, one of the world’s first innovation projects to bring blockchain to the enterprise world. Mirta leads marketing activities and public relations at SophiaTX, supporting strategic initiatives and partnerships. She is playing a vital role in the company to become a leading player in the blockchain technology landscape. This year SophiaTX was awarded The Blockchain Company of the Year in April’s edition of CIO Applications Europe. Separately, Enterprise Security magazine has named SophiaTX in its Top 10 list of blockchain providers for business.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I am Croatian born and raised, and studied speech and language pathology at the University of Zagreb. I spent my graduate years working with people who stutter, which I truly loved doing, however I decided to make a career change when I moved to Germany. I became more interested in business, and after completing an MBA, I fell into consultancy.
While I was working for Accenture, specialising in change management and large-scale business transformations, I met Jaroslav Kacina, now CEO at SophiaTX. After working side by side on a project, Jaroslav began introducing me to the world of blockchain and the vision for SophiaTX. With three children, all under the age of 3 (and including two twins), I decided to skip the rest of my maternity leave and accept the offer to join the SophiaTX leadership team. I now divide my time between Switzerland, Slovakia, Croatia, and Germany, working on the go with my kids and the help from my babysitter. Although it may seem impossible to some, with constant organising, as well as keeping my focus on the main goal (to make our project successful), I am able to make this work.
As Chief Marketing Officer at SophiaTX I totally love the disruptive and innovative nature of our projects. I have the pleasure of working with a young, enthusiastic and highly professional team. We come from all over the world and from very different backgrounds, which makes for a great team and work culture.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
On July 25th, we will be officially launching our mainnet (blockchain platform and marketplace), so all my efforts at the moment are being thrown into making this happen. Our focus is on how to integrate the SophiaTX blockchain into ERP systems such as SAP, TIBCO, Oracle and other enterprise applications. I am therefore currently concentrating on building relationships with potential clients keen to explore the impact of blockchain on business possibilities.
What makes SophiaTX different from other projects is our relentless focus on actual business use of blockchain value for our clients. Compared to many cryptocurrency projects, we target businesses in industries such as pharma, food, manufacturing, automotive, construction and more, who wish to integrate blockchain technology into their current systems.
Recently we have participated in the CIO Executive Summit in London UK, the first of several high-profile events organized by Evanta, a Gartner Company. We have also established collaborations and partnerships with the leading industry players such as Ernst & Young, Cheng & Co in Malaysia, and Bizcode in Poland.
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?
I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for several people in my life. In general, I believe every person you meet, either privately or through business, influences you in so many ways, and all the experiences you make due to these people shape you bit by bit towards the person you are now. Privately, it has been my husband, and a few of the close friends, who have literally been by my side through the good and the bad. On a professional level, the biggest impact in terms of my current area of professional interest came from my colleague Jaroslav. He introduced me to the SophiaTX project and shared his vision, knowledge and enthusiasm about the blockchain industry. This motivated me to accept this new challenge, because it was different and more dynamic than anything I had ever done before.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- Blockchain is capable of a wide array of innovation across all industries. It is not restricted to fintech and crypto payments.
- Its disruptive and can make an impact on large companies just as much as it can on small and medium sized businesses.
- It’s transparent. Once a transaction has been made it’s there forever, eliminating any manipulation on financial transactions or data.
- Blockchain’s future is incredibly exciting. Despite the hype surrounding cryptocurrency markets, the blockchain technology has the credibility and the potential to become the foundational technology in how business is done.
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- Misunderstanding of cryptocurrencies versus blockchain. General public still often mixes up the terminology, and some still think that blockchain equals crypto. This needs to be cleared up to allow for faster progress in adoption of blockchain in business and consumer use.
- Lack of regulation. Governments need to provide at least foundational and regulatory support for the evolution of the tech without going into extremes such as restrictions, bans, etc.
- Mindset in organization. Not all standard companies are capable of adopting blockchain. Perhaps they work on old-fashioned systems and organizational structures, therefore the implementation of blockchain may be slow and difficult.
- Personal and business data protection. In general, I have found that people are negligent when it comes to privacy about their personal data. If people are willing to openly post about their lives on social media and therefore reveal their personal data, then do individuals really care about adopting this new security-focused technology?
- Lack of knowledge about blockchain. A large section of our society is still unclear as to what blockchain is, or how it works and yet they expect too much from blockchain. It is still a fairly new technology that will take time to be fully implemented.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
As well as rescuing stray cats I try and participate in as many local community projects as I can. I support one particular Croatian non-profit called Udruga Veliko srce malom srcu, which roughly translates to ‘Big heart to the small heart’. Made up of doctors, healthcare staff and parents, they work to spread awareness about the importance of early diagnosis of heart failure, raise funds for necessary treatment and medicine, and provide psychological support to parents of children suffering from heart conditions. One of my own babies has a congenital heart complication and so I obviously have a very personal connection with this cause. In my view, the small but personal and well pointed donations make much more of an impact on someone’s life compared to giving millions of dollars to charities.
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
- Know what you want. And what you want to achieve. If you are unsure what it is, talk to as many people as possible and learn from others’ experiences.
- Believe that you can do it. Don’t be afraid to try new things or to go out of your comfort zone. Yes, it usually hurts, but it is supposed to hurt — only to discover the gain was much greater than the initial pain. If you have the determination and belief then you will succeed.
- Don’t let anything or anyone stop you: just go for it! Easier said than done? Of course. But if you focus on solutions, rather than problems then things will somehow turn out ok.
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 🙂
To be honest, I’m already having lunch with the people that I would love to have it with! 🙂 However, for his persistence and believing in what others called impossible, I would have to choose Mate Rimac, founder of Rimac Automobili . As a kid he was into car racing and when his car engine exploded during one race he decided to convert it into an electric one. This was the foundation for the startup he founded years later, and although almost nobody believed in it, he never gave up. Today, his business is the most innovative component and system supplier on the emerging electric vehicles market, and Porsche recently bought a stake in it. I like it when people take initiative, responsibility, and keep their eyes on their goal to get there against all odds.
Originally published at medium.com