Why you should care
Because to represent your customer base, you need more women at the top.
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Amber Baldet has a long list of favorite things; New York City, digital privacy, glitter, capital markets and whiskey are just a handful of them. She has a soft spot reserved, though, for “smashing the patriarchy.” And as one of tech’s brightest stars, she knows when — and just how much — to lean in.
The 35-year-old Baldet, crowned as one of Fortune magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2017, heads the blockchain team at JPMorgan Chase & Co. that is developing an open source coding project to harness the power of blockchain technology to scale and satisfy JPMorgan Chase’s requirements for privacy and performance in financial transactions. Baldet seamlessly switches between technology and the needs of a Wall Street giant, and she’s helping shape JPMorgan Chase into a nimble player in the fintech world.
Looking back, it almost seems as if Baldet’s role at JPMorgan Chase was tailor-made for her abilities. Baldet’s love of technology surfaced early: At age 5, she began tinkering with computers. She also has a passion for economics, “to understand why the world operates the way it does.” Marry the two and you’ve got a perfect union for navigating the complex tech world of cryptocurrency.
If you’re surrounded by people like you, who agree with all your decisions and never question anything or think from a different perspective, that’s a problem.
Amber Baldet, JPMorgan Chase
Baldet might be bringing her razor-sharp fintech talents to the table, but she is also keenly aware that her life experiences, as a woman and as a mother, are necessary in contributing much-needed diversity to technology. After all, computer programs are developed by humans, who bring their own implicit biases to the task; if the programs are developed by a subset of people, they can’t represent the population at large.
“If you’re surrounded by people like you, who agree with all your decisions and never question anything or think from a different perspective, that’s a problem,” Baldet says. “You need to have different people with skin in the game. You need diversity at every step of development. Because without it, you’re going to have blind spots, and that’s going to lead to weaker systems.”
While salary transparency and absolute dedication to recruiting minority talent from corporate are important placeholders, that alone is not enough, Baldet believes. The exhortation to lean in might be overworked, but it’s still relevant to the discussion, Baldet says. Always one to practice what she preaches, she showed up for her interview the day before she was due to deliver her son. “I knew I was going to be down for the count for a while if I didn’t show up, [so] I said, ‘Fine, I’m leaning in,’” she remembers.
That kind of resolute single-mindedness nabbed Baldet the job, and it’s also a lesson she wants female professionals to remember. “We tell women, ‘Don’t talk about money, don’t talk about your promotions. When you’re good enough, someone will tap you on the shoulder and escort you to the next level.’ [But] that’s just not going to happen,” she says. Working out of your comfort zone and self-advocacy are crucial skills for all minorities to learn, she adds.
Baldet is excited to be spearheading the next generation of tech talent as she steers JPMorgan Chase into new territory.
This content was adapted from a piece created by WP BrandStudio and JPMorgan Chase and was originally published here.