Maria Matyushina, Unique Network, shares her journey into Web3
Maria Matyushina does not do comfortable. Instead, she enjoys pushing herself in new experiences and challenges. This is reflected in her hobbies where she thrives on extreme activities such as paragliding and parachuting. Next on her bucket list is diving with manta rays.
“I don’t do these activities every week but I love a challenge and a new adventure,” she says.
The same love of adventure has turned her career on its head from a legal beginning to managing a team of engineers at a top Web3 NFT company.
“You know, when I was growing up, girls were not expected to do tech so I chose a more ‘suitable’ profession like law, but I was always interested in tech – and learning.” Today Matyushina is an ambassador for Women in Tech but it wasn’t a straight road.
“I want young women to know they can do anything. It’s very important that they can see choices – like they can wear yellow instead of pink.”
She earned her degree in business law before obtaining a crisis management certification. For eight years, she worked as a high-level bankruptcy lawyer and manager, always seeking to incorporate modern instruments into her and her fellow co-workers’ day-to-day work.
Her interest in technology led her to pursue a LegalTech director course and her career journey took an exciting turn when she pivoted towards the role of IT business analyst. There, she embarked on a mission to construct an ERP system from scratch, showcasing remarkable ability in the tech arena. However, she yearned to expand her expertise in more innovative spheres.
As part of this decision, Matyushina redid her CV and emphasized her passion for technology. She also scoured for jobs in new tech and saw that analytic roles came up all the time.
“I wasn’t familiar with analytics but I know I am smart so I could learn it and by a series of coincidences my CV ended up in the hands of a CTO who wanted an analyst to conduct research with lawyers. Of course, with my degree and work I already knew some answers so I was hired.”
Matyushina’s advice to other people wanted to move career is to do similar:
“Find a connection between what you know and where you want to work – for me my career in law opened the door.”
Funnily enough Matyushina first heard of Bitcoin on the popular US comedy, Big Bang Theory, but when she researched the area, it seemed too hard at first.
In 2021, after spending a considerable amount of time researching various technology fields, she stumbled upon a podcast episode discussing NFT technology. She was fascinated and decided to delve deeper into blockchain technology.
By incredible chance, a few weeks later, she received a job opportunity to work as a project manager for a global startup building an NFT blockchain. Despite lacking prior experience in this field, she eagerly accepted the invitation to interview.
“It can be confusing with wallets, hashes, private keys etc but I was so lucky in my next job to join an amazing team that was eager to help me learn.”
She was hired as project manager at Unique Network – a blockchain company developing advanced NFT technology in the sophisticated technology ecosystem of Polkadot. In this role, she spearheaded the effort to craft an innovative blockchain infrastructure, leading a team of developers. Her exceptional leadership and guidance propelled the company’s impressive growth, cementing her status as a key player in the ecosystem. This paved the way for her swift promotion to Director of Engineering within 1 year.
As for the future of NFTs, Matyushina is practical.
“If anyone had a clear answer, they’d be rich. But I can see a development from simple NFTs, such as the Bored Apes, to increased utility. I love what we are doing at Unique – we are building new, advanced use cases.
“The world needs to catch up – can we trade NFTs, can we pay taxes with it. If you want to tokenise your apartment and see it for bitcoins as an NFT – can you do this?”
There are two main current challenges facing the NFTs according to Matyushina. The first is the aforementioned lack of advanced use cases.
“And the second is the lack of legal regulation so we can push through.”
You can take the woman out of the law, but not the law out of the woman. Watch this space.