Over the next few weeks, Girlboss is exploring what it’s like to work in crypto. We’re speaking to women at different ages and stages, and who work across the industry in operations, culture and community and education. First up, Mara Schmiedt, manager of Coinbase Cloud.
This content is funded by Coinbase for Girlboss.
When did you start working in crypto?
I was first exposed to crypto around 2014 through my cousin who started working in the space fairly early on. While I was interested, I didn’t fully explore the option of working in crypto until later on. In 2016, when I finished university, I joined a social-impact fund, Endeavor, that covered fintech startups across emerging markets including LATAM. Through my time at Endeavor I was introduced to crypto entrepreneurs like Wences Casares and Santiago Siri which piqued my interest again and this time drove me to pursue crypto full-time.
My first role in crypto was in 2018 at ConsenSys in London. In 2020 I moved to Bison Trails which was acquired by Coinbase early last year. Now I head up the Coinbase Cloud business and Sales team. Coinbase Cloud is a developer platform that offers builders a full suite of product capabilities to power their products and applications.
What attracted you to the industry?
I was attracted to the opportunities of decentralized innovation. In a mature state, public blockchains, such as Ethereum, act as global public goods: they are openly accessible, collectively maintained and drive a beneficial outcome for society as a whole. Blockchains help us transition today’s data-driven internet to the value-driven internet of tomorrow, one that is owned by the very users and builders that are creating it. That seemed like a pretty exciting vision to me.
What does a “typical” day look like?
My typical day starts on Twitter. It’s the most precisely condensed information that I can consume with my coffee and helps me keep a gauge on current discussions and new players in the landscape. Next, I catch up on emails and slack messages and plot out what I need to achieve. Each day varies but it’s important for me to plan my day as I’ve found that I’m most efficient when I have a plan.
After that, my day is focused on supporting the growth and revenue generation for our business. I meet with prospective customers and partners (ranging from small startups to Fortune 500 enterprises) across various segments in the market, as well as identifying new and innovative business opportunities. Through my regular interactions with clients, I’m able to understand their needs, challenges and provide solutions that leverage Coinbase Cloud. This feedback is also fed back into our business, so I’m frequently working with cross-functional leaders across product, engineering, marketing and customer success to continue improving our products and services.
What are your biggest challenges?
Crypto moves quickly. Staying up to date is important to me, but it’s also an ongoing challenge. For people who are new to crypto, they notice this pace adjustment right away. Being structured about consuming information and knowing when to switch off is important.
There’s a perception of a boy’s club culture in crypto. What has been your experience working in crypto as a woman?
When I entered the space, I felt challenged by the fact that the environment was predominantly male-driven, but I have seen positive changes that make me feel optimistic about the direction of our industry. If you look at conference attendees, the pool of applicants and even the folks that work on our team, there is a lot more diversity. Everyone has an active role to play so I take personal accountability in being part of the change.
What are the misconceptions that you bump up against as someone working in crypto?
People have wildly different experiences and perceptions about crypto. Over the last few years the media cycle has spent a lot of time on scams, hacks and software bugs so crypto has become a loaded term. It’s not unusual for a new technological innovation to be met with some resistance but I would encourage anyone who is interested to seek out much of the neutral, informational content available to help educate themselves about crypto. I’ve seen many skeptics be converted!
What’s your advice to anyone who wants to work in crypto?
Pursue your curiosities. For many people I’ve hired, this is their first job in crypto, however they have always had a genuine interest and passion to learn. Take advantage of the abundance of information and knowledge out there, Coinbase has some good content online at Coinbase.com/learn or podcasts like Unchained or Bankless. Seek out the conversations, the mentors and resources.
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