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Women Leading The Blockchain Revolution: “Women tend to understate and underestimate their skills” With Sandra K. Johnson, Ph.D. and Tyler Gallagher

Many women tend to understate and underestimate their skills and abilities. We need more women and men to mentor women at all levels so they understand the realities of what it takes to succeed in this industry, or any industry, in which they are underrepresented I had the pleasure of interviewing Sandra K. Johnson. Sandra […]


Many women tend to understate and underestimate their skills and abilities. We need more women and men to mentor women at all levels so they understand the realities of what it takes to succeed in this industry, or any industry, in which they are underrepresented


I had the pleasure of interviewing Sandra K. Johnson. Sandra K. Johnson is the CEO, Global Mobile Finance, Inc., a fintech startup company based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. She is the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in computer engineering, has over 40 pending and issued patents, and over 80 publications in her 30+ year career in technology. Dr. Johnson earned B.S. (summa cum laude), M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, all in electrical engineering, from Southern University, Stanford University, and Rice University, respectively.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of how you decided to pursue this career path? What lessons can others learn from your story?

I applied to the Engineering Summer Institute for high school students as a high school junior. It was a summer program at Southern University in Baton Rouge, LA, my home state. I was only knowledgeable about engineers that drove trains. I was not excited about learning how to drive a train, but I was interested in getting away from home for the summer so I would not have to do chores (participants lived on campus, in dorms, during the program). It was during that summer program that I learned about the other engineering profession, fell in love with electrical engineering, and knew this is what I was born to do.

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

I am working to develop geeRemit, a relationship-driven remittance mobile app for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It is a blockchain-based app that deposits funds transferred from senders in the US and other western countries to the mobile money accounts of receivers in SSA. I’m excited about the opportunity to provide this service in a manner that is cheaper, faster and fosters emotional relationships between geeRemit and the sender.

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?

My mother has been, and still is, my strongest supporter. My father died in an automobile accident at the hands of a drunk driver. He left my 26-year-old mother with my 5-year-old older sister and my brother who was 15 months younger than me. In addition, my mother was 3 months pregnant with my younger sister. She raised us as a single mother, never remarrying. It was very hard for her. She has been encouraging and supportive for as long as I’ve been here. When I encountered difficult situations, I always thought that if my mother can raise 4 children as a single mother then certainly, I can do this.

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

I am really excited about the potential for blockchain to change how we do business, including conducting transactions, engaging in contracts (e.g., smart contracts), etc. I believe blockchain technology is a game changer. It can disrupt many industries, chaining the way our global society operates in a manner similar to how the Internet has changed our society. Cryptocurrency has the potential to do likewise; however, I believe crypto has more obstacles to overcome. This is because there are so many governments, central banks, etc. that are part of our global monetary ecosystem and it will take some time to remove all the obstacles required to move forward.

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

I am concerned that those who have less than favorable objectives will find a way to enrich themselves at the expense of others. This will no doubt happen, as there will always be a cat and mouse type of play. With blockchain and crypto, especially crypto, the heists may be substantial. This can negatively impact our ability to move forward, for example, to a global currency.

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

My company, Global Mobile Finance, Inc., is developing geeRemit, a relationship-driven global remittance app for sub-Saharan Africa. It is based on blockchain technology and mobile money. It reduces the costs for senders transferring money home to family members and friends in emerging countries to help them make ends meet. The funds are used to pay for goods and services such as utility bills, medical procedures and food. geeRemit reduces the costs, putting more much needed funds into the hands of the recipients. Remittance is 3X official development assistance (ODA) and is a significant component of the economies of emerging. Remittance is a component of the UN Sustainable Development 2030 Goal 10, targeting transaction fees of 3%.

As you know there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 3 things that you would you advise to other women in the blockchain space to thrive?

Be competent in your area of focus, exude confidence in your skills and abilities, and aggressively pursue what you know is your purpose and destiny.

Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the blockchain industry?

Many women tend to understate and underestimate their skills and abilities. We need more women and men to mentor women at all levels so they understand the realities of what it takes to succeed in this industry, or any industry, in which they are underrepresented

What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?

One that comes to mind for me is “Don’t Quick”. It was a poem that was in my high school graduation card, given to me by one of my mother’s closest friends. It short and simple, but very powerful. Over the years, encountering many obstacles, those simple words have stayed with me.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

We represent many different cultures, races, religions, etc. in this global society. While we are different in many ways, as humans we have more in common than are differences. I truly believe that if we simply spend more time getting to know each other and understand our commonality, we would spend less time focusing on the negativism of differences and move forward to encourage and inspire all that we meet.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

linkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drsandrakj/

Twitter:@drsandrakj

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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