Women of Bitcoin: Volume 3

In our third and final post of our series, “Women of BTC”, we’ll hear from Tobi Kral on the Engineering team and Alaina Tyrer on Executive Admin. Both Tobi and Alaina are invaluable assets to the team and bring rich experience to their respective roles.

Tobi has been at Square for just over two years, after joining us from Microsoft, and is a key member of our server engineering team. She works specifically with the Cash balance and Cash Card workstreams, but pinch hits across Cash App’s various engineering needs.

Alaina has been at Square for more than four years, and started as a receptionist before joining the EA team. Alaina is an essential part of Cash App’s success: a self-described “Swiss Army Knife,” Alaina serves as a knowledgeable resource both here in SF and for our other offices. With team members around the world, it’s absolutely crucial to understand what’s happening within all the sub-organizations of the Cash App team.

Let’s get into the questions!

Tell me about the work you did and are doing on Bitcoin.

AT: My role was project management — while supporting Cash App’s leads, I helped to develop business relationships. Understanding the different people and personalities team members were meeting with, the impact on product development, and finally, working cross-functionally within the Cash team with members of Treasury and Legal to ensure everyone was aligned with what was going on.

What is the favorite part of your work?

TK: The teamwork. We were pushing really hard to execute and make this Bitcoin buy and sell feature available to our customers. From the core team to folks like me that were able to come in, everyone really stepped up to help get this done. It was an amazing example of collaboration — talking and working together as a single unit to make ambitious timelines work. And while we work fast, we try to make reasonable and methodical decisions about how we develop our products.

What got you interested in Bitcoin/crypto?

AT: I read excerpts of the Bitcoin white paper and have done a lot of additional research on my own. I believe in the blockchain — in the technology and its potential to enable users to be more empowered and have control of their data.

What’s the most exciting thing about working on this new aspect of the financial system?

AT: My favorite part has been the learning process. Feeling as if we’re on the cutting edge of something that could change the future as we know it for finance. For example, I was able to teach my dad some of the reasons why the topic was so hot in the news. He owns a construction company and I spent time with him and his employees explaining what it is, how it works, and why it can be impactful.

A lot of people may not have the resources or access to the knowledge behind major technological shifts. They see that something is a top trend or headline in the news, like Bitcoin for example, and wonder if they should be involved or purchasing it, but don’t fully understand it or have a good way to learn about it. We are able to help address that and make technology like Bitcoin more accessible.

What are the most interesting things you’re seeing happening across crypto or tech more broadly?

TK: It’s a paradigm shift, and the financial industry is not one where you get to see that first hand a lot, or often. It’s been fascinating to see how we’ve reacted to address this shift, how others have and of course, how the markets have. It’s amazing that this theoretical concept is now having actual, applicable effects on real world practices and institutions. It’s such a fluid new development and is changing at such a rapid pace that it will be interesting to watch for years to come.

What makes you passionate about the work you do?

TK: I like problem solving. Sure, you have really tough problems, but can almost always find a solution with hard work. I like what we’re doing now — you have this tangible sense of providing a direct benefit to someone who needs it, and that’s really cool.

AT: I like being a resource, connecting with people, and managing projects at hand. In getting to know everyone on the team, I can help foster folks’ development and spark their interest in areas they may not have even realized were a great fit for them. Understanding what people are working on and what makes them excited — we can work together to challenge each other as a community, helping the greater impact Cash App can have on our customers’ financial lives.

What advice would you give to other women interested in entering the crypto space?

TK: If it’s something you’re passionate about, or even curious in — find the corner or part of it that feels comfortable to you. Or, make that space on your own. It’s not always the most welcoming, but there’s a lot of rewards for the people who go into it, and your participation will benefit the community in general and everyone that you can serve by pursuing it.

AT: Network, do your research, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. No question is a stupid question.

What’s the best advice you’ve gotten?

AT: Be genuine, and by that I mean: if you’re not happy, speak up. The people around you — your peers, your colleagues — want you to thrive. They want to help make it better for you. Square is such an inclusive and empowering company and I feel very fortunate to work here. I mean, I started as a receptionist! So don’t hide. Speak up and be yourself.

Anything else?

TK: Our team has been really solid and I think it’s a direct result of Cash always being pretty distributed. We’ve built a lot of models for working that help the remote offices not feel disconnected. The tools we have at our fingertips are valuable and our team works to ensure that we use them. We have such an awesome feeling of integration here.