Hi there Iona, could you tell us a little about your background and how you came to be part of the team at Wallet.Services?
Hi. So I started my career in Microsoft as a business apprentice, working in the strategic partnerships team in the Scotland office with Peter Ferry, who is now one of the directors at Wallet.Services. In this role I got involved in a range of activities from sales to technical demonstrations, focusing primarily on our small business customers. After roughly a year in this team, I then moved in to Enterprise Marketing which focused on our large corporate customers. One of my biggest professional achievements in this role was planning and executing the Microsoft Burns Supper 2016, which is a 600-people charity fundraiser. For the 1st time, the event was a finalist in the Scottish Event of the Year Awards!
Throughout my time at Microsoft I learned a great deal, and my apprenticeship also allowed me to choose my career path as a marketer. After 2 years at Microsoft I came to the conclusion that to give me the best possible chance in the future it was best to take 4 years out to study a degree. Within my first month at University, I was contacted by my former Microsoft Line Manager, Peter, about joining his new team at Wallet.Services, leading on Marketing Communications. Obviously, I jumped at the opportunity and have been with his BlockChain start-up for 6 months now.
What drew you towards a company working in BlockChain and what are the most exciting elements of the technology in your mind?
BlockChain is brand new, so naturally a start-up focusing solely on this young and in-vogue technology represents an exciting opportunity. As my previous manager Peter is involved I felt an instant reassurance that Wallet.Services was going to be a success - and so joining the team was a no-brainer. In my previous role, I worked with lots of start-ups and small businesses, most of which were Microsoft partners, but it is weird to be on the other side. Good weird! There's a lot to do, and you get the opportunity to be involved with, and lead with, totally different sides of the business; from finance, to comms, to events. What baffles me most about BlockChain is that most people just assume its application is in financial services, however when you actually understand how the technology works and how the network is created you can imagine it's use in a range of different industries and cases. It's application in the Public Sector in particular interests me the most at the moment, as BlockChain really does have the capability to streamline current public services.
You also study Business and Marketing at the University of Edinburgh, how do you find the balance of work and study?
I definitely had to adapt! There are busy periods and quiet periods of study, so the trick is to make sure my colleagues know about exam time, so that we can set milestones around this. Also, my company is great in that I can work pretty flexibly, so I work in-between classes and in the evenings, as well as going into the office on my days off Uni. After chatting to a few of my fellow-students, who are struggling with fitting in their shift work, I realised how lucky I am! Not to mention, I thoroughly enjoy doing what I do, so I'm happy to work late or do some studies on the weekend. I find that because I am busier and have limited amount of time to study or work, I actually focus better and I am probably more productive as a result.
What have been the main benefits of your course at the University of Edinburgh so far?
The key takeaway from my first year at university has been the quality of networking opportunities. Meeting so many driven young people like myself is very refreshing, and I have made friends with students outwith the business school too. My courses so far have been learning about the foundations of business practices, but I am excited to progress into further years and to be able to focus on my interests in social and digital marketing.
I have applied some of my learnings from my lectures to my work in Wallet.Services, particularly when helping with the business planning and strategy, which reaffirmed to me that I made the right decision to take the time out to study.
Do you have any professional goals you’re hoping achieve in 2017?
In 2017 my professional goals include being involved in the successful product launch of our new platform and building a community of satisfied developers and customers. Along with this, we aim to establish Wallet.Services as a leading BlockChain brand.
Outwith Wallet.Services, I also hope to become more involved in Women in Business, and in particular Women in Tech, initiatives in my free time; to build my professional network and encourage other young women into the technology sector. In addition, I help with the running of the Microsoft Student Partner Programme at Edinburgh University, and our plans for the next academic year include holding more Azure-focussed events and hopefully expanding the student team. Oh, and of course passing all my upcoming exams!
What’s next for Wallet.Services?
Wallet.Services are just about to release the first version of their platform to a limited number of keen BlockChain developers, as the first stage of our product launch. From this closed-launch we can gain a good amount of quality feedback, tweak our platform as needed and then we should be set to release the platform to the public within the next few months. Alongside this, our development team will be working on our “use cases” to showcase what our platform can achieve. As part of our international outlook, we will also be attending various IoT and BlockChain conferences around the world, including Consensus in New York in May - as we see our market as global and not just national. Overall it's an exciting time for the company as we approach the end of our first year and start to build our developer community.