Wisdom From The Women Leading The Blockchain Revolution, With Payal Patel Malhotra of Cartesi

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
10 min readJun 12, 2024

Continuous learning; this is really important, of course not only for women but for everyone in this space. The industry is dynamic, fast moving and constantly evolving so its good to at least have a birds eye view of this

I had the pleasure of interviewing Payal Patel Malhotra.

With over 19 years of diverse professional experience acquired across different parts of the world, Payal has collaborated with a range of companies, from established institutions to emerging startups across various sectors. Her extensive operational roles have spanned prestigious organizations like the UK Government and The National Health Service, as well as numerous startups, offering her a comprehensive understanding of scaling startups efficiently. Seven years ago, she embarked on a personal journey by relocating to India, drawn by its rich cultural tapestry. During her time there, she developed a keen interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency, finding the dynamic world of web3 incredibly exhilarating. Payal joined the Cartesi project in 2021, and she has led the Developer Advocacy unit since 2023. Payal is dedicated to enhancing the developer journey within the Cartesi ecosystem, leveraging her diverse expertise. She believes in the transformative potential of web3 and is enthusiastic about contributing to its growth and evolution.

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 held a stable position in the UK as an Inspection Manager with the Care Quality Commission, where I supervised the regulation of over 600 care service providers and hospitals. However, seeking a change, I made the bold decision to embark on a one-way journey to India with hopes of relocating. Once there, I transitioned into freelancing, collaborating with numerous startups and companies. It was during this period that I serendipitously discovered the world of web3 and blockchain. The innovative potential of web3 intrigued me, offering a fresh perspective and promising opportunities to revolutionize existing systems. I foresaw the profound impact this technology could have globally, particularly in enhancing processes, promoting fairness, and advancing equality. This vision alone compelled me to immerse myself in this burgeoning industry.

The journey taught me invaluable lessons about pursuing personal passions without constraint. I learned to embrace uncertainty and take risks, trusting in the universe’s ability to manifest desires. Rather than rigidly adhering to preconceived career paths, I embraced agility, following my intuition and seizing new opportunities as they arose. This mindset shift empowered me to explore uncharted territories and embrace the transformative potential of venturing into the unknown.

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

I currently hold the position of leading the DevAd unit at the Cartesi project. Cartesi stands out as a blockchain layer-2 solution that preserves the security features of blockchains while enabling complex computations within a Linux environment. What excites me most about Cartesi is its inherent modularity. Unlike other layer-2 solutions, Cartesi doesn’t vie for superiority; rather, it integrates seamlessly with various protocols, allowing developers to harness the best aspects and bolster the resilience of their projects or products. By providing developers with access to popular software stacks, Cartesi facilitates more streamlined and efficient blockchain development, all while ensuring scalability without compromising on security. This versatility enhances the functionality of blockchain applications, making them more accessible and impactful.

As we explore the realm of technical projects within the web3 space, there are several compelling endeavors leveraging Cartesi in innovative ways. One such project, Rives, offers a thrilling platform for classic game emulation and the creation of new custom games. By operating within the Cartesi environment, game sessions can be authenticated, and scores can be validated with precision. Additionally, Bugless presents an intriguing solution for implementing self-fulfilling bounties. Through Bugless, projects can issue bounties for identifying bugs and vulnerabilities in their code, with hackers receiving instant rewards upon successful breaches. This addresses prevalent issues within traditional bug bounty models, such as delays and lack of transparency.

Another noteworthy project that showcases Cartesi’s potential is Trust and Teach, which leverages on-chain technology to empower DAO participants. Trust and Teach enables users to tailor machine learning models through a voting-based reinforcement learning process. This innovation holds significant promise for developing applications that require machine learning models with specific features, such as child safety, censorship resistance, and domain-specific attributes. By harnessing the power of Cartesi, Trust and Teach opens doors to new possibilities in decentralized governance and machine learning integration within blockchain ecosystems.

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?

Embarking on any journey toward a particular destination is a collaborative effort, and my own path is no exception. The people we encounter in both our personal and professional lives play a crucial role in shaping our trajectory, whether consciously or subconsciously. Their influence guides us to the right moments and places where we can thrive. Throughout my career, I’ve embraced a penchant for job hopping, driven by a deep-seated desire to enact positive change and tackle new challenges. Each transition represented an opportunity for growth and innovation, leading me to where I am today.

Finding my home at Cartesi has been a culmination of collective support and encouragement from numerous individuals. However, one person stands out among the rest for profoundly shaping my journey — Erick De Moura. During the nascent stages of my web3 career, Erick’s unwavering belief in my abilities and his commitment to nurturing my growth were instrumental. Instead of fixating on my lack of expertise in web3, he recognized my strengths and provided me with the guidance and opportunities needed to excel. This unwavering support served as a catalyst for my continued development and fueled my determination to make a meaningful impact. From starting as an Executive Assistant to assuming operational roles and eventually leading the DevAd unit at Cartesi, each step of my journey has been a testament to the transformative power of mentorship and belief in one’s potential.

What are the 3 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

There are limitless possibilities and potential to change things for the better.

The project ideas that developers come up with, some of which are so creative with use of multiple tools and projects.

The potential of web3 is exhilarating, representing a largely unexplored frontier ripe with possibilities. We find ourselves in a position reminiscent of past technological breakthroughs, where concepts once deemed “impossible” have since become commonplace.

What are the 3 things that worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?

As an industry overall we need to move to create more use cases with tangible outcomes. It’s about moving web3 to the next phase.

We need better adaptability, although this is getting better the above will significantly help with this.

The intricacy of blockchain technology is a major obstacle, so it’s not a worry as such but a barrier which needs to be broken in unique ways to make this accessible and understandable to the masses.

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

From a purely professional perspective, my current role has afforded me the opportunity to thoroughly explore diverse strategies for introducing Cartesi and the world of web3 to various communities. In my view, the most crucial aspect is for both the project and the DevAd unit to offer comprehensive opportunities on a global scale. These opportunities extend beyond mere financial incentives and encompass a commitment to providing (I) high-quality educational resources, (II) mentorship programs, and (III) a personalized approach to engagement. Venturing into untapped regions and countries to deliver these resources has proven to be an effective method for us to educate and onboard talented developers, thereby enriching our project’s ecosystem.

As you know there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 5 things that you would advise to other women in the blockchain space to thrive?

Since the start of my journey into web3, I have come across more and more women in this space. In fact, we did an X space chat with some of these empowering women which really opened my eyes into how things are progressing regardless of gender. If I could advise 5 things to those entering this space I would say:

Continuous learning; this is really important, of course not only for women but for everyone in this space. The industry is dynamic, fast moving and constantly evolving so its good to at least have a birds eye view of this

Get to the forefront. Embrace opportunities, find ways to expand and connect with others. The more you do this the more you will grow.

Focus on how you use your skills without emphasizing wholly on what you don’t know. Do not shy away from utilizing your strengths and being front facing within the industry. Ask questions, be active and learn! Think from a perspective of how you can utilize your strengths across any industry, and do the same here.

Don’t overthink it! We can spend way too long thinking about practicalities, the unknown and hypothetical situations. Dont! The best way is sometimes to dive in the deep end and just figure things out, without overthinking.

Try different positions and verticals to understand the bigger picture. I think this is pivotal, especially in industries which are outside of the “norm”, this can really help garner a better understanding of how the whole picture is and not have blinkers in the work you do

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

There are already remarkable women-centric communities within the web3 space, providing invaluable support and empowerment to women in this field. It’s essential for us to collectively rally behind these communities and others, ensuring that equal opportunities are accessible to all. With the presence of influential women steadily growing in this space, it’s evident that progress is being made, and we must continue to foster inclusivity and diversity within the industry.

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

Rumi (Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi) was a wise man. I love all his quotes and his teachings are profoundly impactful for me. My favorite one which relates to my personal life and work is: ‘You were born with wings. Why prefer to crawl through life’.

This philosophy applies to every facet of life, be it personal or professional. Each of us possesses inherent abilities, often lying dormant, waiting to be harnessed to achieve remarkable feats. It’s crucial to empower ourselves by recognizing and cultivating these abilities, thereby realizing our full potential. I’ve encountered numerous challenges, both personally and professionally, like many others. However, these experiences have underscored the importance of self-awareness and the transformative impact we can have on ourselves and the world around us.

It’s difficult to pinpoint one instance when this “quote” is something which is actually in-built so you follow this for all instances. My career has been full of these moments where you tell yourself to spread your wings and fly, when the easier option is sometimes to keep crawling. When I joined the Care Quality Commission I was 25 years old and one of the youngest Inspectors to land the job. From the offset when I went through the interviewing position which included around 5 different elements and interview stages, I told myself I will fly through this. I then worked in this position, excelling my own expectations — I created guides and processes for new Inspectors around all the things I struggled with, I took on speaking positions, joined a lot of working groups, started to lead a lot of initiatives which was not in the scope of my role.

Then an opening came up for Inspection Manager, where most of the managers had been with the Commission for 10+ years. I was encouraged to apply and thought this will help me learn and grow in confidence. There were around 3 openings at the time. I not only ended up with the position, but being the highest scoring candidate I was given the team which was deemed to have the most challenges. That’s when I became the youngest Inspection Manager. Crawling could have meant that I stayed in an Inspectors position for a longer time and for me, flying was pushing myself to go beyond. Of course, a lot of this is your own interpretation of what is crawling and what is flying — but you set your own precedent. This is true for any situation we are in.

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. :-)

It may sound cliché, but there are moments when positivity seems scarce amidst the prevailing negativity in the world. This sentiment is reminiscent of a Bollywood movie that resonated deeply with me, prompting contemplation on the potential for profound change and the ease with which it could be achieved.

I would say start the chain and help 3 people out, could be anything — provide a meal, pay for their taxi ride if they are short, buy something you know someone really needs. Tell each person to then do 3 things for someone else in a similar fashion, whenever they can.

You will never know how far and wide this small gesture and cycle can reach. Kindness can be contagious, helping others at any point is never forgotten and it will inspire people to do the same for others.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

X @cartesiproject

X @payalpatelmalhotra

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