We sat with our CEO Susan Creamer and asked how she found herself leaving the Food & Drinks industry now leading a tech solution start up in block chain?
I am getting this question a lot, as to how anyone can flip from one particular career path and go off in a totally different direction; for me it’s the easiest answer in all your questions, it changed because I changed.
I am here because of a five second slip on a wet car park floor one busy Friday night leaving the office in central Madrid in March 2017. One slip led to 10 months in rehab relearning how to function through a pain complication which ironically gave me time to breath.
My accident took me out of my crazy busy work bubble and forced me to look at life in a high dependency unit where men and women had amputations or in wheel chairs who fought every day to take a step, I thought I was in pieces until I looked around me and found I was without question the healthiest patient in the unit. Trust me, I was a minor league patient with a high pain disorder (CRPS) with a paralyzed left arm but up against these warrior men and women, I was fresh as a daisy. And in the friendships I built with both the medical team and these triumphant humans, I clearly saw we all had private healthcare, the best of professionals and pharmaceutical drugs that made us function better. Others globally are not so lucky, 450,000 children die annually from counterfeit malaria medication. Prince the artist died from an overdose involving counterfeit opioids a crisis that is paralyzing the streets of the USA. And there in lay the journey from a hospital unit to a kitchen table discussion when someone asked me could block chain verify premium whiskies and I said “Yes we could do that, but why not do it for medicines and vaccines, high end luxury goods, football shirts and why not take this piece of architecture and take it all the way to the street for everyone?.”
I called it HolaTECH because I am not techie, I am not a block chain specialist, I am not some woman with decades of history leading Fortune 500 companies but what I am is, determined to take take that one slip, that one moment, that one experience and flip it 360 and take this piece of Spanish tech into the market to stop men, women and children suffering from counterfeit of any kind that swamp our market place, take it to the street as it were henceforth HolaTECH works as everyone understands Hola.
It is rare to see women leading technology start-ups, both in Spain and the US. What advice would you give to young women that may be interested in entrepreneurship?
Sadly, it is often rare to see women leading any company across any sector, but it is changing, and I believe changing fast but maybe not fast enough. Often times working in the same place, men and women have vastly different work experiences because men can look up the chain and see other male leaders and role models they can aspire to. For women it is different, we look up and often don’t see leadership roles filled by women; that is what I want to see changing for tomorrow’s generation of women leaders and to do that, there needs to be a shift in thinking at all levels not just the board room. Young female professionals need to look up the chain and see women leading companies, shaping strategy as with more women in positions of leadership our work place can be more adaptive and productive.
To young women, I would urge them to believe that we are working hard to change the thinking, that we are making strides to create a more equal and balanced board room of decision makers but it’s a process and takes time. Leadership irrespective of gender takes courage, tenacity and sometimes a keen ability to know how to choose your battles and know when to walk away and be gracious, always. It is only through an environment of mutual respect and understanding, and a cultural shift in management thinking that we can truly achieve a landscape for today’s young women to take up the mantel on a pathway paved today. We can’t sit around and talk about it, it is incumbent upon us to just do it. And please look in the mirror and say “I can do that, I can start a company” and this generation of female leaders are busy creating that pathway so look up.
In a nutshell, blockchain should be used when clear value is obtained by doing so compared to non blockchain solutions, particularly through the immutability of data in blockchains.
Sadly we live in a world that is becoming increasingly swamped with fakes. These can come in two forms: fake news and manipulation of video images and the spoken word – which is a more recent but equally worrying phenomenon – as well as the more visible and an age-old problem of product counterfeiting, though the sophistication and quality of these latterly is rising.
We have all become accustomed to seeing fake products and maybe even have succumbed to buying one. The most visible types of products are bags, footwear, clothing, electrical equipment, watches etc.
So clearly today QR codes are still an intrinsic way of engaging with consumers digitally, economically and easily. However, one of the drawbacks of them has been the ubiquity of QR code readers, and free versions tended to come with annoying advertisements.
It’s no secret, we all want cheaper products since the real ones are so expensive but because counterfeit goods are not subject to the regulatory standards and production norms that govern legitimate products, their consumption can pose serious health risks. A large proportion of alcohol poisoning deaths in Russia for instance—which numbered over 17,000 in 2012—are thought to be caused by counterfeit beverages with hazardous ingredients.
For many, there is hope that banning straws is just the start of single-use plastics being phased out for alternative solutions.