Women Leading The Blockchain Revolution: “If you have interest and passion, you can learn about anything” With Michela Menting and Tyler Gallagher

I would advise women not to be afraid to tackle any topic in which they are interested, even if it seems daunting or out of reach. If you have interest and passion, you can learn about anything and in time, even master a topic. Everyone has started without knowledge, and regardless of whether you are a woman, or a man, perseverance and hard work will always help you thrive. Technology in general, whether cybersecurity or blockchain, is a predominantly male-oriented field, but that should not put any woman off. You will come across those who patronize or dismiss you, but they are the minority, and there are so many other people with great values who will treat you as an equal. I advise to just ignore or forget those that will bar your way. There are many great companies to work with and a definite skills shortage in the space, so plenty of opportunities for women. You just must know your worth, and fight for it from the beginning. If you don’t believe in yourself, others won’t either, even if you excel at your job.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Michela Menting, Research Director of Digital Security at tech advisory firm ABI Research. Michela studies the latest solutions in cybersecurity technologies, blockchain, IoT and critical infrastructure protection, risk management and strategies, and pin-points opportunities for growth. She then delivers end-to-end security research, from the silicon to cyber-based applications, closely analyzing technology trends and industry-specific implementations. Michela’s experience includes working as a cybersecurity policy analyst for the United Nation’s International Telecommunication Union in Geneva, Switzerland.


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 have been working in cybersecurity for almost a decade, having started out doing an LLM (Master of Laws) in information technology, media and e-Commerce back in 2005, which had a fascinating module on cybercrime. Since then, I have focused my career on cybercrime and cybersecurity research, both in the public and private sector. Blockchain is a discipline that roots itself in cryptography and is a natural fit for my interest. As such, it has been on my radar for some time, and I’ve been following Bitcoin since 2013 at least, and have been fascinated by the growth of cryptocurrencies since.

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

I am doing a lot of preliminary research around blockchain proof of concepts and pilots, notably in industrial applications, looking at topics from supply chain management, manufacturing, agri-food, and energy management. There are some fascinating startups with very novel ideas trying to break the mold of how traditional applications work and trying to democratize them through decentralization.

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?

One person I am very grateful to is my current boss at ABI Research, Stuart Carlaw, who took me on 6 years ago as a cybersecurity industry analyst. He has been highly supportive of my research and together we established ABI Research’s Digital Security Practice. More recently, he spearheaded the creation of ABI Research’s Blockchain and DLT Research Service, which I also head. He’s been an excellent mentor as well, helping me grow from simple industry analyst to research director.

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

- The potential for new business models that can democratize applications and sectors that have traditionally been closed.

- The number of startups, ideas and innovation stemming from the technology itself.

- The applicability of blockchain in so many different sectors, from finance, to identity to agriculture, to the internet of things.

- For crypto like Bitcoin, the total relegation of centralized authorities! Such an incredible upset!

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

- Misuse and fraud; much like any new tech, hype and excitement will attract also malicious actors.

- It may also get stifled by governments and traditional institutions that may feel threatened by blockchain.

- The rush to adoption (because of hype and fear of missing out) will lead to poor implementation and realization of an otherwise potentially successful technology, leading to disuse or bad reputation.

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?

I would advise women not to be afraid to tackle any topic in which they are interested, even if it seems daunting or out of reach. If you have interest and passion, you can learn about anything and in time, even master a topic. Everyone has started without knowledge, and regardless of whether you are a woman, or a man, perseverance and hard work will always help you thrive.

Technology in general, whether cybersecurity or blockchain, is a predominantly male-oriented field, but that should not put any woman off. You will come across those who patronize or dismiss you, but they are the minority, and there are so many other people with great values who will treat you as an equal. I advise to just ignore or forget those that will bar your way. There are many great companies to work with and a definite skills shortage in the space, so plenty of opportunities for women. You just must know your worth, and fight for it from the beginning. If you don’t believe in yourself, others won’t either, even if you excel at your job.

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

It would be great to have more support networks and meetups for women in the industry. There are many in the security space, but I definitely think the blockchain industry could benefit from similar meetups and networking.

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

It may sound a bit cliché, but it’s “just do it”. Lack of confidence, uncertainty, and procrastination are all enemies of success. Often, people are afraid of refusal, or of being wrong, or of doing work for nothing. But you won’t succeed if you don’t at least try to do it. It doesn’t always mean you will get it right or succeed right away, but every time you decide to do something, you will improve and start moving along.

I started my career at the International Telecommunication Union as a cybersecurity policy analyst. I had a background in law and policy, not in technology. But I took the time to learn the technical aspects of the discipline, and in time I decided to move into the private sector and become an industry analyst. I didn’t know whether I would have the skills or the knowledge necessary to succeed, but I went for it, I decided to try, and I left the law and policy world behind. Certainly, it was tough at first, but I don’t regret going for it. I have a great job now, which I enjoy immensely, which I would not have had if I had not decided to move out of my comfort zone into the unknown.

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. :-)

Technology education for all. I went through the French school system, and in the 90s we certainly were not using any computers at school or learning about technology. This is still the case today! This is in start contrast to the U.S. educational system, where technology plays a primary role. I would love to see more tech-related classes, including coding, at school; whether in France, Senegal or Thailand! So much of modern societies is relying on technology, it seems a terrible shame to ignore it in the education of those who will one day lead our societies.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

On Twitter @ABI_Menting

On LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelamenting/

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