Embracing Equity in Crypto

“Equity can be defined as giving everyone what they need to be successful. In other words, it’s not giving everyone the exact same thing. If we give everyone the exact same thing, expecting that will make people equal, it assumes that everyone started out in the same place – and this can be vastly inaccurate because everyone isn’t the same.”

Not only is International Women’s Day (IWD) an annual reminder for us all to celebrate the achievements and contributions of women in our circles, it also stands as a date whereby we delve a little deeper, into a fresh theme. 

This year’s? A call out not just to #EmbraceEquity, but also recognise that “equal opportunities” are no longer just enough. They can, in fact, be exclusionary – for it’s not just a one-size-for-all solution anymore – with each woman having their own unique set of circumstances. In today’s landscape, it’s about allocating resources on a case-by-case basis, in the effort towards achieving an equal outcome. 

This IWD, we’re learning more about three women at BitMEX – all in various roles and teams – management, engineering, and compliance – to find out how they arrived in the cryptocurrency space, who helped get them, what they needed to get there, and what embracing equity means to them. 

You’ll also find us in Zurich – celebrating the official incorporation of Women in Web 3 Switzerland as its first-ever sponsor.

If you haven’t yet created a BitMEX account, click here.

As part of the Engineering team, Kirsty leads and manages the various teams that develop and support our trading engine. 

What does the idea of “embracing equity” mean to you?

Recognising that value comes from diversity in gender, skills, and background. The key to maximising value in an equitable way is to appreciate the unique perspectives that diversity brings, and try to make sure these are utilised and developed in the most appropriate way.

What did you study at University?

I have an undergraduate degree in Economics, and a postgraduate degree in Applied Finance and Investment.

How did you find yourself at BitMEX and working in this space?

I worked in Global & Regional Technology Lead roles for both JP Morgan and Citibank (Equity Derivatives Front and Middle Office). A few of my ex-JP Morgan colleagues who had moved to BitMEX from Equities recommended working here, so I decided to make an application. 

What advice would you give to women who wish to pursue a career in crypto and/or engineering?

If you like fast-paced, ever-changing environments – go for it. Contrary to what some people may think, the crypto field does not have a mono culture; our teams have talented people with a diverse range of skills and backgrounds. 

How have you overcome challenges in your career?

Everyone faces barriers of some sort. This is not exactly a “textbook strategy”, but I generally just try to ignore the barriers and focus on doing the right thing and promoting that to the team, in the hope and belief it will be carried forward. Culture changes start with you.

As part of the Product Engineering Team, Maria is in charge of developing, testing, and deploying features for both our Mobile and Web applications.

What does the idea of “embracing equity” mean to you?

It means examining and accepting our own unconscious biases, and keeping them in mind when we make decisions that require fairness.

What did you study at University?

For a couple of years, I studied Industrial Engineering, and then switched my focus to International Business Management. After completing my undergraduate degree and working for a number of companies, I pursued a postgraduate degree in System Analysis – with a focus on software development. I also took a distance learning uni course on blockchain technology last year.

How did you find yourself at BitMEX and working in this space?

Before joining BitMEX, I was a Business Development Consultant at an Enterprise Architecture Software company. I previously worked as a Full-Stack Software Engineer at a social media company, specialising in sustainability. 

I’ve always wanted to work with finance-oriented companies and products that do not sit within the traditional banking sphere. So when a recruiter approached me about an opportunity to build a brand new mobile app for BitMEX, I decided to go for it. What attracted me most about the role was the opportunity to learn about crypto and the autonomy that the position offered.

What advice would you give to women who wish to pursue a career in crypto and/or software engineering?

  1. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions.
  2. Failing fast and improving is usually better than waiting for the perfect approach.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to others; every person brings different strengths to the table.

How have you overcome challenges in your career?

I believe that showing results is the best way to prove your worth, even if it means having to prepare more and work harder than others.

Who are three women (outside of BitMEX) who have encouraged you to embrace equity? 

  • My grandmother: She was the only girl who attended school in her hometown, and made sure all of her six kids (both girls and boys) went to university. And she just turned 100 this year!
  • Angela Merkel, Former Chancellor of Germany: She welcomed more than a million refugees into Germany during the height of the Syrian conflict and in spite of the criticism she received.   
  • Shirin Ebadi, Iranian Lawyer: She’s one of the first female judges in her country, and the Founder of Defenders of Human Rights Centre in Iran.

Delphine drives our Switzerland compliance programme, ensuring that BitMEX always complies with applicable regulations. It’s a role that includes developing regulatory strategies and compliance projects – such as listing risk assessment and due diligence, financial crime risk assessment, travel rule, and anti-fraud programmes.

What does the idea of “embracing equity” mean to you?

In my view, it’s all about being open minded. This means keeping an open mind to the opportunities and challenges you’re presented with, because you never know how they can elevate your career.

Do you have any suggestions on how crypto can be leveraged to further gender equity?

Education is the key to promoting gender equity in the crypto space. On top of studies after high school, women who are interested in entering the industry should be provided with necessary tools and resources, in order to gain the knowledge and skills needed to excel in their careers.

What did you study at University?

I did my undergraduate studies at Sciences Po, mainly focusing on political sciences and international relations. I also hold two Master’s Degrees in Law: European Criminal Business Law as well as Money Laundering and Fraud Prevention.

How did you find yourself at BitMEX and working in this space?

In 2017, I made my foray into the crypto space. I was working at HSBC, where I was tasked with exploring the potential applications of blockchain technology in the field of trade finance.

I then worked for a crypto exchange in Switzerland, with entities in the United Kingdom and across Europe. I helped the exchange build their compliance programme from the ground up; this was at a time when the crypto space lacked clear regulatory guidelines, which made my job all the more interesting.

Simultaneously, the ICO boom was happening, meaning I had the opportunity to attend crypto events almost every evening. Attending these events helped me grow my network, and learn the ins and outs of the FinTech space.

Towards the end of 2019, we debuted the OpenVASP Association – accompanied by the launch of a protocol and standards that allow Virtual Asset Service Providers and others to comply with the Financial Action Task Force’s “travel rule” requirements. I also became a regulatory advisor for crypto startups, and a Board Member of the Crypto Valley Association.

Just before BitMEX, I worked for a crypto mining company. It was during my stint at the crypto miner I realised I much prefer working for a crypto exchange. Which is why, when I saw that BitMEX’s Swiss entity was on the lookout for a new CCO, I applied. Because for me, BitMEX has always been an OG player who sticks to the values of crypto, but also has an operational focus on clear and compliant operations. 

What advice would you give to women who wish to pursue a career in crypto and/or compliance?

  1. Crypto is a fast-moving industry, so it’s important to develop a habit of reading the news every day. 
  2. If you want to be a good lawyer or compliance professional for an emerging product or space, be sure to attend (Fin)Tech events often to better understand how the technology works. 
  3. Develop your network and participate in industry bodies. 
  4. Keep an open mind and be creative.

How have you overcome challenges in your career?

We do live in a world where men continue to dominate upper-management positions in most industries. My advice would be to turn your disadvantages into advantages; hard work always pays off.

Who are three women (outside of BitMEX) who have encouraged you to embrace equity?

  • Diana Biggs, Partner at 1kx: Her values and achievements are inspiring; she’s my role model and a good friend.
  • Valerie Scheveiller, Head of HR at DHL: I met her during the start of my career in 2008. She was one of my biggest clients, and I learnt a lot working with her.
  • My mum: She’s the one who taught me – from a very young age – that I have to be independent and should only rely on myself. I would not be where I am today without her.

We’re always looking for talented people who are passionate about crypto to join our team. Visit our Careers page to explore job opportunities at BitMEX today.

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