Getting to Know Topl: Laura Thiel
Hi, I am Laura and I am the newest Topler. I recently joined the start-up and will mainly work on the business side of Topl. I am originally from Germany and an Alumni of Maastricht University with an interdisciplinary background. I hold a double master in International Business with focus on Information Management and Business Intelligence as well as Strategy and Innovation; I have also specialized in Global Health.
Getting into Blockchain
I got introduced to the blockchain space by participating in a Hackathon organized by Brightlands in the Netherlands in May 2017. I worked with an interdisciplinary team on a blockchain solution to decentralize healthcare data.
I have known Topl since September 2017. Topl participated in the techruption blockchain incubator, which is also a part of the Brightlands ecosystem. Throughout this year, I was introduced to most of the team members one-by-one as they came to work in the Maastricht Office.
I actually accompanied Topl on its journey since September 2017 and always admired this technology project that aims to improve current processes and ultimately do good for the world.
I met them in an informal setting, which I think is the best way to really get to know each other. This is super valuable when joining a small team in an uncertain start-up environment. I got to know Nick in blockchain workshops and another hackathon; showed Kim the beautiful town of Maastricht where we also spent evenings philosophizing about god and the world with a glass of wine; had reenergizing coffee breaks with Paige talking about the start-up world; and, by coincidence, I ran into Chris in New York when he was on his way to a workshop at the UN Peacebuilding office. I actually accompanied Topl on its journey (as an outsider) since September 2017 and always admired this technology project that aims to improve current processes and ultimately do good for the world. Thus, it was a very smooth transition when Kim asked me if I wanted to join the start-up.
Becoming a Part of the Team
My formal role within Topl is Business Development. More specifically, I will be responsible for the user development, i.e. identifying new users for our network, and assessing how to ease them onto our protocol. I will work closely with our founding team to find new opportunities for Topl. However, in a start-up you are generally involved in many different processes and projects which makes this environment interesting and appealing to me. Because we have a very team-based approach, I am also involved in different marketing projects as well as the user-centric side of product development, in addition to main responsibilities. My role involves building a bridge between our technology and the user.
Let me take you on a little detour: Originally from Germany, I lived in various different countries such as Canada, the United States, India, and the Netherlands, resulting in a multicultural and diverse circle of friends. Hence, I was constantly surrounded by vastly different cultural perspectives, influenced by their own experiences living in such geographically and politically different locales. During that time, I recognized how much I like to live and work in an international environment. A diverse group of people with divergent perspectives is the best starting point for valuable discussions that result in unique insights which ultimately become mutually found, constructive, and innovative solutions. To me, the beauty of a diverse team is that each member compliments the other with their strengths and weaknesses, and together it form a well-oiled machine.
A diverse group of people with divergent perspectives is the best starting point for valuable discussions that result in unique insights which ultimately become mutually found, constructive, and innovative solutions.
I decided to study at Maastricht University because it offers the best opportunity to profit from different cultures and disciplines due to its international focus. I graduated from a double masters program in International Business at the School of Business and Economics (in both “Information Management and Business Intelligence” and “Strategy and Innovation”), but added classes from the “Global Health” masters program. Occasionally, people are surprised about the combination of these disciplines, as they are very different and sometimes conflicting. But I was intrigued by them all. I believe that it is essential to look through different lenses, not only in order to gain further knowledge, but also to see things from different perspectives.
The world is built out of numerous different pieces. In order to understand it, we need to be open-minded, inclusive, and respectful, and see it from different angles in order to understand the big picture. Thus, it is essential to bring diverse people and perspectives together in order to close gaps, build bridges between knowledge and ideas and finally find the missing piece in the puzzle. This way, we are able to jointly create innovative solutions to sometimes seemingly unsolvable problems.
Topl not only offers me the perfect ground to engage with an intercultural and interdisciplinary team who strive together to achieve their goal, but also the opportunity to connect the economic with the social world through an emerging technology.
Topl not only offers me the perfect ground to engage with an intercultural and interdisciplinary team who strive together to achieve their goal, but also the opportunity to connect the economic with the social world through an emerging technology. This allows me the perfect ground to combine my vast and varying experience and expertise. I can actually draw from the knowledge of my diverse background to answer the questions and prolems that arise, and I feel that in this way I am able to contribute to the team and to this space. With the help of my team, I can put pieces together and build bridges.
The Importance of the Team
As my colleagues already stated, I also truly believe in our team. It might sound cheesy, but every one of them has inspired me in her or his own way. This was also one of the reasons why I decided to join Topl.
Throughout my studies and prior jobs, I gained a lot of experience working in different, international teams — good and bad ones — and I can confirm that the Topl team is a well functioning team. A big part of this is because we have great founding members who genuinely care — not only for each other and the technology, but also for each of our team members, and all of the stakeholders involved in this project. Their attitude in leading Topl and the way they communicate with each other and with the team, how they handle situations and resolve conflicts, going through the ups and downs of start-up life together is what makes this a solid team. Even though many of us work remotely, these characteristics have established a base for creating harmonic team dynamics while keeping motivations high, as well as growing an amazing company culture. Being a part of Topl is almost like being a part of a family.
Being a part of Topl is almost like being a part of a family.
More about Me
Besides being a business developer at Topl, in my free time, I am a passionate runner, volleyball player, and horseback rider. I love the outdoors in general and you might hear me singing occasionally. As I really like to be in an international community, I also like to learn languages — I currently speak German, English, French, some Dutch and some Spanish, and recently started to learn Brazilian Portuguese. Oh and I LOVE food!