In the ever-evolving world of Web3 technology, CEO Siegrid Althuizen shares her journey as a woman in the vibrant tech hub of Dubai.
Siegrid Althuizen started her career with humble beginnings in the city of Brabant, Netherlands. Her journey led her to assume the role of a Commercial Director for one of the biggest media houses – DPG Media Group, leading the development and execution of annual strategic and operating plans, paving the company’s success into the age of new media. She moved to Dubai ten years ago to bring the vision of her own company to life. Today, she is the CEO of Skyne – an independent strategic branding and design firm. During the pandemic, Siegrid also spearheaded the Go-Lokal initiative - a platform built in collaboration with Skyne to support local markets and communities. Go-Lokal currently hosts 180+ local businesses on its platform with active updates on finding new local gems of the UAE. Siegrid is also the founder of the Dutch Design Centre. An initiative that strives to bring the best of Dutch Design to the Middle East.
What attracted you to the world of blockchain? Tell us a bit about your journey to becoming the CEO of a Web3 solution provider.
At first, the world of blockchain didn’t hold much allure for me. As the CEO of Skyne, a leading agency for branding and design solutions in the GCC region, I was focused on creating, transforming, and refining brands for clients like Nike, Rainbow, Jotun, Savola, Bateel, Saudi Ministry of Culture, and many others. However, with the advent of Web3, I was like, “This is the moment to think differently. Embrace the possibilities. This could change everything”. During one of our regular innovation sessions, the concept of what would eventually become Web3 emerged. What fascinated me was that for the first time, the wonder of owning artwork and solving mainstream issues for businesses became possible. It was a pivotal moment that made me realize the need to dive into this new direction that the world was heading toward. The potential of blockchain, especially in terms of true ownership and its ability to revolutionize business processes, fascinated me. At Skyne3, we have achieved remarkable milestones, such as creating the world’s first NFT certificate of appreciation for Al Shifa Honey, transforming fan experiences for the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) by eliminating paper tickets and launching “NFTamimi” for Al Tamimi & Company, the biggest law firm in the UAE. Resulting in millions of views through international reach. These (only starting) accomplishments have filled me with pride and reinforced the importance of preparing for Web3 as a business if we want to maintain our leadership position. My journey to becoming the CEO of a Web3 solution provider was not an overnight occurrence. It was built upon a solid foundation of experience, determination, and an unwavering belief in the transformative power of innovation.
Have you come across any differences in women’s representation across both these markets? (European and Arab). Especially in the tech industry.
In Europe, I was the Commercial Director for the Netherlands’ largest media house reaching 8.5M+ consumers; active in TV, radio, news media, magazines, and online services. It was an exciting time, but it also brought about significant changes as everything rapidly shifted to the digital realm. As a woman in a predominantly male-dominated industry, I was often one of the few females in the room. However, I never allowed that to deter me. Instead, I saw it as an opportunity to prove my worth and demonstrate that gender should never limit one’s potential for success. I immersed myself in every aspect of the industry, staying up to date with the latest developments, technologies, and trends, to always be at the forefront of the digital revolution. Looking back, I realize that being a woman in the tech world has been my greatest strength. It has fueled my drive to push boundaries, challenge the status quo, and make a meaningful impact. I believe that in any industry, what may initially seem like a hurdle can become a catalyst for growth and success. The Middle East is a beacon of empowerment for women in tech. Women here know their value, embrace their strengths, and seize every opportunity to make a difference. It’s a testament to the inclusive and forward-thinking nature of the tech community in this region. I want European women to know that they would be pleasantly surprised by the vibrant and unstoppable women taking charge in these markets. The tech industry here does not shy away from female talent, it embraces and celebrates it. I have always had a seat at the table, even if I had to prove myself initially. And that journey of proving my worth has shaped me into the empowered leader I am today.
Why do you think we need more women in leadership across the tech sector? What do women bring to the table? Passionate women in tech?
Oh, they’re just unstoppable! Driven by commitment, they’re continuously developing their knowledge across diverse topics and skill sets. They possess a remarkable ability to correlate various pieces of information, weaving together different perspectives and insights to create comprehensive solutions. A balance is essential in all aspects of life, and the tech sector is no exception. The inclusion of more women in leadership positions across the tech industry is not only a matter of fairness and equality but also a strategic imperative for businesses and the advancement of society. Women bring qualities to the table that complement and enhance the traditionally male-dominated tech sector. One of these invaluable attributes is feminine energy, which encompasses qualities such as empathy, collaboration, intuition, and holistic thinking. Women leaders can foster a supportive and inclusive work culture. They can build strong relationships, inspire teams, and create environments where everyone’s voice is valued. This leads to increased employee engagement, higher retention rates, and ultimately, better business outcomes.
What are the challenges you’ve faced in this sector, subjected to you being a woman?
In my experience as a CEO of a Web3 solution provider, I have certainly encountered biases and challenges along the way. However, I firmly believe that it is not about playing the victim or dwelling on the disadvantages. Instead, it’s about embracing the strength and unique perspective that comes from being a woman in a predominantly male-dominated industry. One advantage I have found is that being looked at differently, being a minority in the room, can work in our favor. It grabs attention and forces others to take notice. As a woman, it can be an opportunity to make a powerful impact and ensure that our voices are heard. We are not living in the 80s anymore. The tech industry has evolved, and I have witnessed numerous accomplished women rising to the top and running the show, more are in line. They are setting new standards and reshaping the landscape. It is inspiring to see how far we have come and the immense potential that lies ahead.
In your experience, what are some of the key advantages that diverse teams, particularly those with increased female representation, bring to the development and implementation of Web3 solutions?
First and foremost, diverse teams bring a wide range of perspectives, ideas, and experiences to the table. This rich tapestry of insights fuels innovation and allows us to approach problem-solving from multiple angles, leading to more creative and robust solutions. In my team, with over 12 nationalities working together, we learn new things every day, and everyone’s unique culture brings fresh perspectives and enriches our work. It is one of our biggest strengths. Companies that don’t encourage this healthy environment are missing out. Highlighting successful women leaders and professionals in the industry can inspire other women to pursue careers in blockchain and crypto. Representation matters and seeing others who have paved the way can break down barriers and ignite ambition.
This piece was first published in Communicate's Women to Watch Issue 2023.