[Interview by Mart]
The Tangleverse Times: Since we have established our “introductory” question, we just start as always: how did you find out about IOTA and how did you find your way to the IOTA Foundation?
Laura Kajtazi: Before working full time as a Project Manager for the IOTA Foundation I studied and completed my Master Programme in International Economics and Management. In my studies I focused on Entrepreneurship and Macroeconomics and began to more closely deal with the crypto area from an entrepreneurial and monetary policy perspective. I was with excitement following the crypto area and also IOTA. At some point during my Master studies I wanted to gain practical experience within that specific area so I applied as a working student for the IOTA Foundation and I was actually lucky to be accepted. Once I finished my studies I started working full-time for the IOTA Foundation as a Project Manager and I am really happy to be on board.
TvT: Do you have any secret morning routine you couldn’t live without? Any secret life-hack you are totally going to tell us right now? Something like TikTok users telling you to add lemon juice to your coffee?
L.K.: I wish I had haha. Generally for me it is important to start the day with something that motivates me. In my case I usually start my morning with coffee and music as these are things I really enjoy, which puts me immediately in a good mood and full of motivation to start my day. Also what I realized helps me a lot is before I start work to go over my tasklist and set my priorities for the day. This provides me with a fresh mind and more guidance during the day.
TvT: If I would send you now to a beautiful lonely island in the middle of the Caribbean to spend the next year there, but you would be forced to binge-watch a single YouTube video of your choice, what would it be?
L.K.: If I would need to watch a single YouTube video over and over again, I would probably say no video, haha. But as I need to choose I would pick something that the more often I watch it provides me with more insides, new messages I might have not recognized before.
TvT: So Mariana took the freedom to tell me that you’re originally from Kosovo. After googling “Delicious dishes from Kosovo” I found quite some. But since you’re the expert here, what meal do we really need to try? What’s your favorite meal from your youth?
L.K.: I'd wholeheartedly recommend "Mantia," which are filled pastries traditionally made with chopped meat. In my view, you can also experiment with chopped vegetables like eggplants, mushrooms, and onions, although it might not be advisable to suggest this to an Albanian mother who prefers to stick to the original recipe. Once I prepared Mantia with chopped vegetables, my mother jokingly told me that, to her, they couldn't be called Mantia anymore, haha.
Here is a picture of the dish:
TvT: Mariana is originally from Colombia and you spent some time there in 2020 as well… is this just a funny coincidence or did you get to know each other there?
L.K.: Indeed this is a coincidence. During that period, I happened to be on a semester abroad in Colombia. When I joined the IF, meeting someone from Colombia, particularly Mariana, was a truly happy moment for me. Overall, I have a deep fondness for Colombia and Latin America as a whole. It's my favored region for both exploration and travel.
TvT: You work for different panels and sustainability groups etc., so basically pushing real world adoption and acceptance of the technology. Is there also a degen part hidden inside you? If so, which NFT project is your guilty pleasure?
L.K.: I think soonaverse is a really cool project. There are some NFT collections on their Marketplace that I really like such as one with Frida Kalho or the collection Diá de los Muertos. This is also because I find Mexico as a country very interesting. Also Frida Kahlo happens to be one of my favorite artists in history.
TvT: It started with Dom’s cutie, Christian Saur, who told us he would love to have a “non-smelling dog that can walk itself” and continued with Mariana’s lovely doggo. Do you also have a pet? If so, WE WANT PICTURES! If not, what would you love to have at some point in the future?
L.K.: Unfortunately, I don't have any pets. I was really fond of them when I was a child, but my parents weren't pet enthusiasts, so I never formed a strong bond with animals…until I met Mila. Honestly, this dog has played a significant role in gradually turning me into more of a pet person. If I am at some point getting a dog myself, Mariana's dog definitely had an impact on this transformation!
TvT: One serious question is allowed in this format, so I’m gonna ask it right here: What is your experience as a woman in the “blockchain sector”? What needs to change? Is there anything where crypto is actually ahead of traditional sectors?
L.K.: Being a woman in the blockchain sector is genuinely thrilling. However, I believe it's not solely about being a woman; rather, the industry itself offers a chance to be part of a cutting-edge field with the potential to revolutionize sectors ranging from finance to supply chain and beyond. It's an environment that fosters innovation and embodies a pioneering spirit. This spirit makes communication and exchange with others much more fluid for me.
Nonetheless, there are hurdles to navigate. Like many tech-related fields, the blockchain sector has historically been dominated by men. Consequently, women may encounter situations where they feel underrepresented. Personally, I haven't experienced a lack of representation, but given the lower proportion of women in this sphere, it can indeed be a challenge.
In light of this, I believe networking and mentorship play pivotal roles for women in the blockchain sector. Connecting with fellow women in the industry offers invaluable support and avenues for personal and professional growth.
In a broader sense, being proactive and advocating for diversity is crucial. This proactive stance can help break down barriers and pave the way for more women to enter the field. Moreover, diversity within a team is immensely beneficial for the growth and progress of the industry as a whole, in my opinion.
TvT: What was the best series you watched the past year?
L.K.: I really enjoyed watching “Wednesday”, that was my highlight in 2023. I also enjoyed Money Heist, One Piece, Inventing Anna just to name a few.