Insights

Encouraging diversity in the crypto industry: Interview with Co-Director and COO at Coinfloor

Interview by Doug Beck, Executive Search Specialist at X4 Technology.

The cryptocurrency market experienced rapid growth in 2020, which is set to continue as the global cryptocurrency market was valued at $792.53 million USD in 2019 and is predicted to reach $5,190.62 million USD by 2026.

I interviewed Teggy Altankhuyag, Co-Director and COO at Coinfloor, who is responsible for driving the vision, strategy and operations at Coinfloor. Having worked in crypto since 2017, Teggy shared some brilliant insights and thoughts on this exciting and rapidly growing industry.

Coinfloor is the UK’s longest-established bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange company and their goal is to create a safe and accessible place to trade and invest in cryptocurrency.

How would you describe the cryptocurrency culture?

At the moment, it’s still a very new industry. It’s growing so we are defining the culture and finding our identity.

One of the great things about working in the crypto industry is that it’s made up of players from diverse backgrounds. There’s people who have come from financial services, the tech industry, marketers and even doctors. Everybody is contributing towards the culture in their own ways.

It has been well documented that the world of cryptocurrency is heavily male dominated. What do you think needs to change to get more women involved in bitcoin and blockchain technology to help balance the existing gender divide?

It’s about representation. I started working in crypto in 2017 and for a long time I thought I was one of the very few females in the industry. I was often the only female in a meeting room, and I would attend events and look around, and it would seem like a hundred men to one woman ratio.

But one thing I found that was amazing was a group called Bigger Pie, a blockchain community for females to share ideas and educate others. Before I found Bigger Pie, I hadn’t realised there were so many women working in the industry. I’d always assumed it was just very male dominated, and I didn’t think much about it. When I found a community of other women talking about bitcoin and cryptocurrency it really encouraged me to talk more and do the same. For me the representation part is really important as you feel more encouraged and inspired when you see others who look like you doing the same.

The other part that helped me personally, is being more proactive. For example, I was on a recent talk where a company was trying to hire more women, but no one was applying for the role. They changed the job description to make it more junior because they read an article about women only applying for jobs if they know 100% of the role, versus men who apply for jobs only knowing 20%, and they started seeing more women apply.

So be proactive and do things deliberately to progress towards where you want to go and do not just let things happen to your organisations. If your aim is to attract more women to work with you, you can think of what could help you make your company more welcoming to women and trial out small things to see what works.

A recent survey reported that the ‘average Bitcoin user’ is male (96%). Do you think there is a link between the underrepresentation of female talent in the industry and the lack of female users?

I am just speculating on my own thoughts here. From the experience of my friends for example, they are involved in crypto and bitcoin, and are aware of the different developments. This is because when we catch up, I talk about my work and they talk about their work, and it encourages a conversation around the crypto industry. So I think, yes, more female talent might have a positive impact because naturally more conversations will start happening.

Do you think more diverse teams within crypto businesses will contribute to crypto becoming more widely adopted?

Yes definitely, that will 100% have the biggest impact. It’s generally true for every industry. Companies need not just a gender diversity but different skill sets and thinking as well, but they come in stages. If you have a clear dominance in one area, then it’s easy to miss out on the benefits diversity can bring.

For example, in our company we always get very young people applying for roles. The majority of our team is under 30. We balance this by having experienced partners and advisers with years of experience to work with them and advise them when they need help. More experienced people who’ve been in many different jobs, have families to take care of, bring in different points of view and encourage different priorities. The more individuals you bring into a team with a different point of view and experience can help the work become much more exciting and enjoyable. Because as different types of conversations happen it enables our employees to grow in both their work and personal lives.

What do you think is one of the biggest challenges facing the crypto industry right now?

With crypto being a very new and innovative industry, the pace is very fast and there is a theme with the talent it attracts. There are those who want to make a quick gain and exit, and those who join the industry for its start-up like culture.

Even though it is exciting, this start-up culture comes with a lot of pressure and the working environment is quite intense. You are always dealing with change and you always have to be creating and being on top of new crypto products. It can be overwhelming sometimes.

The worry I have is with new things happening in the industry all the time, companies end up with the fear of missing out and therefore stretch themselves too thin creating a constant high-pressured environment for workers.

This may encourage people to leave the industry to work in other industries because they’re not able to cope with that pressure. If they’re starting a family for example, it could be really hard to maintain a career in the crypto industry and also cope with the pressures. It’s an area I feel really passionate about because for us it’s not just building a profitable industry but building a sustainable industry.

Do you believe that digital currencies are better suited to the new multipolar world we live in today?

It definitely is because it gets rid of lots of the additional non value adding mechanisms that were critical before but now only adds complexities. For example the volume of transactions are increasing exponentially and the traditional systems and practises are becoming obsolete very quickly.

For financial institutions, it’s very important to prioritise and find patterns to make sure they’re delivering a good service while maintaining safety. To do this currently you have layers of processes on top of each other in the name of automation, which adds a crazy level of complexity and additional work. Cryptocurrencies can get rid of these layers of complexity. Blockchain can give you all the information you need in one place.

It’s going to be huge in my mind. Not just from the perspective of making things simpler but because it will enable everybody to concentrate on the important aspects and adding value, rather than spending most of your time on boring, repetitive tasks that in the end adds very little benefit to the whole system.

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