There are two Bs that highlight heavily in Nina Kanti’s life, that’s blockchain and boxing.
Kanti is a blockchain developer with Deloitte and as such is one of only a small number of women working in this space in Ireland.
Often times she’s the only woman in the room but she says this has never stopped her or held her back, in fact she uses it as a driving force to push her forward.
“They’re both male dominated but when you try either, there’s a lot of impact you can make. You shouldn’t be scared to be the only girl in the room. You can knock it out of the park and feel good about yourself in both career and sport,” she says.
Blockchain has been around for quite a while, many will have heard of Bitcoin, but even so, often people don’t understand its importance, relevance or uses.
Kanti explains it succinctly: “It is a decentralised distributed ledger which enables you to transfer virtually everything of value peer-to-peer. Simply put, it’s a growing list of records that are linked using cryptography, with every participant on the blockchain network having this ledger or record of transactions.”
She gives a simple example. “Say you have a classroom of 30 people, all with their notebooks out. I say ‘I’m drinking tea from a blue cup’ and everyone writes that down. Two days later I say to the group, ‘remember when I had tea from a red cup’. I will be corrected by the group- they will say ‘you had tea from your blue cup’. We are trusting everyone in the group. I can then transfer this tea to another student and everyone in the classroom makes a record of that transaction in their notepad- it enables trust without trusting one party and it allows us to transfer this cup of tea “peer-to-peer”.
But why is it important that we know and learn about it? Because blockchain has the potential to disrupt a number of industries and helps enable a positive user experience, Kanti says.
“With blockchain we take back the ownership and have full authority of our data, blocking big tech companies from monetising our data on our behalf. In a world where there is a lot of mistrust, for example blockchain has helped us to ensure our diamonds aren’t from unethically sourced countries, or the produce and clothing we buy are sustainable and ensuring certificates are valid and haven’t been tampered with, which is something I worked on for DNV GL. Like the internet disrupted society, blockchain has the potential to do the same. It ensures trust and transparency in a world where we no longer trust banks to hold our assets or ensure the meat we eat is from grass-fed cows or “as advertised” in shops,” she says.
Kanti works within quite a small team in Deloitte, therefore gets to participate within the including, strategy and engineering side of things.
Graduating from DCU with a degree in Computer Engineering with a major in Internet of Things (IoT) last year, she did her thesis in blockchain.
Having gone to an all-girls school, she says engineering is not something that was pushed, with most following the “normal” paths into nursing or teaching.
“I knew I wanted to do something that hadn’t been done before, so I could really make my mark in the industry,” she says.
She fell into all STEM subjects; Chemistry, Physics and Biology due to an overlap in timetables. Originally she wanted to do Accounting, History and Biology.
“I’m glad things happened the way they did as I had an amazing Physics teacher who inspired me and told me to look into engineering when I went to open days. There are so many aspects to engineering or areas you can work in including biomedical, technology, music and food to name a few- its very broad.”
As a consultant, Kanti says she loves the fact there’s always something new on the horizon.
“Especially in the blockchain EMEA lab, most of our clients are international, allowing me to travel a lot. Currently I travel to Switzerland for client work once a month which I love. I get to work with some the biggest companies, as well as start-ups. There’s a lot of flexibility there and opportunities, whether it’s learning about new technologies or how a specific industry works. I also like that we get to contribute to opensource projects and make headlines by working on cutting edge technology, for example with DNV GL.
“We’re a relatively small team which means I get to wear a lot of different hats in the office. I’m not just a developer, I’m involved in the business and strategy side of blockchain too, which I enjoy. I get to teach and speak at various tech events, both internally and externally, from our clients to secondary school students about blockchain.”
Letting off steam, she now boxes twice a week. Previously she competed in college.
“I got hurt all the time because you’re not holding back and they’re not holding back. You dust yourself off and get back in the game. And you feel like a badass doing it- much the same way when you solve a problem by yourself in blockchain,” she laughs.
A lesson for us all!