Insider Insights: A DeFi Developer’s Perspective
Q&A with DeFi Developer
This week we take a deep dive into what it is like to be working as a software engineer in the DeFi world by hearing from someone who has first-hand experience doing so. Lucy Slee, is an L3 Engineer at CF Benchmarks, an ex-Code First Girls tutor, and a MORSE graduate from the University of Warwick.
In this interview, Lucy offers us a snapshot of some ways to enter the DeFi world and how to make the most of working in it, as well as insight into the space from a female perspective and advice for fellow women already in or wanting to work in tech.
We know from our previous article there are many barriers to entry for women within the technology space, so we hope this first-hand perspective can also offer our readers both insight and guidance – in time to celebrate Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day. So let’s get right to it!
When and how did you hear about Crypto/Blockchain for the first time?
I had been aware of the Crypto space for years and I knew about Blockchain as an application in Crypto but also outside of Crypto for a while too. However, I didn’t really start paying attention until I was introduced to CF Benchmarks. I started with a very high-level understanding of Crypto and have been on a very steep learning curve for the past 2 years.
How and why did you enter the DeFi space?
I was introduced to CF Benchmarks – the first and leading regulated digital asset index provider with an opportunity of joining them as a Software Engineer. After meeting the then 7-person company, I was excited by the interesting work and fast pace environment. For me what makes the work interesting is the crossover of traditional finance ideas (especially with respect to our work on the index team) with the new technologies and ideas of the DeFi space.
What was your approach to learning about the space, and what was your biggest learning curve?
The great thing about tech especially in the Crypto space is that you are constantly learning because the landscape is always evolving. A lot of resources get shared on Slack groups and I often read those and then ask questions. I guess my approach is taking advantage of the fact I work with very knowledgeable people to whom I can ask questions.
Why are you interested in the DeFi world and what gets you most excited about it?
The work is varied and this keeps it interesting. At CF Benchmarks, because we are a small company, as a developer I get to work directly with our product team and I have learnt a lot about DeFi from them. I think the DeFi world puts a lot of emphasis on educating and empowering people this way which is something I think is very important. Technology is always evolving and this keeps me on a learning curve.
Do you think this space offers unique opportunities and / or challenges for women?
I am not sure if they are unique to crypto but in the fintech world in general there are a lot of challenges for women still. It is extremely underrepresented by all minority groups and from a female perspective, it is intimidating. There is an expectation that you will talk confidently when you have an opinion on something in front of other engineers and this is something I struggle with daily. I have very encouraging colleagues and managers that help me develop my skills but I still have doubts about my ability that I know come from the fact I am the only female in the room and what I have been told by society I should be good and not good at. These are big cultural issues that I think will take a long time to change but what we can do now is allow for different ways of working/communicating in companies.
What have been some of your biggest challenges, both as a software engineer and as a female software engineer when transitioning into this space?
The biggest one for me has been imposter syndrome. I really underestimated how much not having the senior female representation (in fact any other female representation often) would make me question if I should be in this space.
Note: This is a common feeling amongst women in the space and is well documented.
What are your thoughts on female representation in the DeFi world?
I have always worked in FinTech and I did STEM subjects at school and university so I am used to male-dominated areas. The difference when I moved to crypto/DeFi is I found myself as the only female at the company to start with. I think on the positive side this space which is younger and less restricted by “old school” ideas gives more opportunities for women to get involved and to feel comfortable. However, on the negative side, there are even fewer women in the industry because it is such a new space and I think the more volatile nature can put women off from entering the space.
What would be your suggestions to other engineers that would want to enter the space, especially women?
Accept that you will feel out of your comfort zone a lot of the time at the start and try to use that to your advantage. For example, ask lots of questions. Tech is a worldwide industry and especially since moving into the crypto space, I work with a lot of different cultures. Appreciate there are differences in culture and language and try to educate/be educated by others instead of shutting them down on things you may not agree with.
What’s one piece of advice you want to leave our readers with?
Keep asking questions.
Lucy will also be one of the panellists in our Women in Crypto networking evening, together with other 3 speakers that will be announced throughout March. We have a limited number of spaces still available for the event, so if you’d like to attend and haven’t registered yet, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to Nicole Dunkerley on LinkedIn.
If you are looking to hear from more women in the DeFi, Web3 and blockchain space, we can recommend following Professor Lisa Short, Genevieve Leveille, Lavinia Osbourne, Rebecca Liao, Layah Heilpern, Caitlin Long and Tavonia Evans.
Written by Nicole Dunkerley
📅 This Week in Crypto 📅
The third most visited cryptocurrency exchange in the world, Bybit, has announced the release of a debit card issued by Moorwand and powered by the Mastercard network. Users will be able to easily transition from the cryptocurrency world into the FIAT world and make purchases or withdraw cash from ATMs using this card, according to a press release on March 6.
Despite recent crypto layoffs, prospects for blockchain developers may be set to hold strong according to some in the hiring industry. Demand for blockchain programming skills increased by 552% in 2022, as per a report by DevSkiller, compiling over 200,000 skills assessments.
A CoinGecko report highlights that in 2022, DeFi companies received more than three times the amount of money raised in 2021 — and 41 times more than the amount the sector secured in 2020.
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