If you are anything like me, when you watch an industry begin to take off like we are seeing with cryptocurrencies and decentralized ledger technologies like blockchain, you quickly look around to see who are the people of influence that are shaping the future conversations and opportunities in the space.
This article will illuminate for you three women leaders who you will no doubt hear a lot from in the coming five years as everyone from startups to large enterprise, and municipalities to sovereign governments begin to make major moves to "blockchainify" (a word made up by my friend Joel Comm) their infrastructure.
If you are new to the blockchain conversation or still confused by it, a "blockchain" is a digital ledger that chronologically records transaction data on a distributed network of "nodes," or computers.
Every transaction is validated by the majority of the nodes on the network, which makes it incredibly difficult for anyone to hack the blockchain or note a fraudulent transaction in the database.
Blockchain technology is being used by diverse industries, from healthcare to advertising, to track data and enable decentralized systems of exchange.
So here are the three women leaders to watch in the industry that is taking off with the excitement and possibility on par only with the printing press and invention of the internet itself.
Melissa Quinn, Corporate Development Manager at RightMesh
Melissa was appointed Director of the Blockchain Users Group (BUGCA) in Canada. Blockchain has been gaining a lot of attention recently, as it is the technology behind digital currencies such as bitcoin, but that's only the beginning.
Melissa first learned about blockchain when she started with RightMesh, a platform that harnesses the technology to incentivize users of mesh applications to share surplus mobile phone resources, such as internet, with those who need it. "As a young woman I noticed that women are rare in the male-dominated blockchain tech community, I wanted to get the inside story of how she got into this emerging technology and why she thinks it will change the world."
In her role at RightMesh she has been working on its mobile, ad-hoc mesh networking platform which is about empowering individuals with their smart devices to connect more freely.
In her role as the Director of the Canada Division of the Blockchain Users Group (BUGCA) she is tasked with educating people and leaders in technology about blockchain technology and proliferate it to all humanity. Some of her largest focus is on bringing the other four billion people who are coming online in the coming years and the almost three billion who remain unbanked into the commercial cycle.
RightMesh is the first project to address the connectivity issue head-on and her efforts at BUGCA dovetail nicely into evangelizing and enabling other technologists to follow in her footsteps.
Perianne Boring, Founder/President of The Chamber of Digital Commerce
I recently had the chance to briefly meet Perianne Boring in Aspen at the Nexus Earth conference along with Dr. Ron Paul and was impressed by her drive, understanding, poise, and ability to present to a large audience. It's no surprise she has quickly become a recognized force in that nation's capital.
Perianne graduated from University of Florida right as the financial crisis of 2008 was rearing its full ugly head. After earning her bachelor's degree in business she found herself unable to get desirable employment and instead took massive action and interned and worked her way into a career as a legislative analyst in the U.S. House of Representatives, advising on finance, economics, tax and healthcare policy.
She founded the Chamber of Digital Commerce building it into the world's largest trade association representing the blockchain industry. Perianne was named among CoinDesk's "10 Most Influential People in Blockchain 2016" and "Top Woman in Bitcoin 2015" for her public policy accomplishments.
In a handful of short years, she has organized a membership that is the Who's Who of companies, individuals, and policy influencers that are shaping the future environment for blockchain related endeavors.
Chelsea Collier, Founder of Digi.city
Chelsea Collier began researching smart cities in the U.S. and China as part of a 2016 Zhi-Xing China Eisenhower Fellowship, an incredible professional and leadership development program that brings 10 Fellows to China for four weeks each Fall.
Her research centers on best practices and lessons learned across both countries and she launched the site Digi.city to harness the opportunity to learn from, enable, and connect experts in economic development, high-speed connectivity, Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, technology commercialization, global trade, and government leadership.
The site has grown tremendously in the last year after beginning as her way to share he contacts' perspectives along with top news, events, trends and other relevant information. She believes that cities can truly become the epicenter of digital innovation in the years to come.
Now you know who they are and what they are doing. My advice is to follow these women and their organizations closely and to plug in where it suits you and your business the most.