Ripple’s Women in Blockchain: Shae Wang on Bringing Data Science to Blockchain

As a relatively new technology, most people have a lot to learn about blockchain. But not everyone is happy to admit that they don’t know or understand how it works. Shae Wang is not one of those people.

With her background in statistics and engineering, Shae had spent a number of years in data science roles at more traditional tech companies. She did predictive modeling and data analytics for Uber, built neural networks for a trading startup and used machine learning to help a data consultant company predict a client’s movie streaming revenue.

When the opportunity came to join Ripple, she jumped at the chance despite not really understanding much about blockchain or cryptocurrencies. Fortunately, Shae loves to learn.

“I like it when my brain hurts from not understanding things,” she says, “It happens to me all the time working in blockchain. There are so many new and complex ideas to understand. But one thing I did know in advance is that data science is really underutilized in this industry.”

Shae is aiming to change that at Ripple by embedding data science into workflows throughout the product life cycle. The first step is designing and implementing a framework for running experiments and making causal inferences, which can help shorten user feedback loops and help the team build better products and services.

She is also driving a key sustainability initiative to quantify the environmental impact of payments, from cash and credit cards to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum and XRP.

“It’s unlike any other data project I’ve done because there was a lack of existing research and very limited data to work with,” Shae explains. “When you look at the lifespan of a dollar, payment transaction or digital currency, it’s hard to pull together information about the entire supply chain. None of these processes were designed with electricity consumption or carbon emissions in mind. But it’s important for every business to think about the sustainability perspective of their products and services.”

Bringing new data-driven perspectives to a business can be a challenge but Shae has quickly built trust with Ripple’s leadership.

She emphasizes the idea of just being yourself and going for it, especially women in the often-male dominated STEM industry. She doesn’t believe that women in these environments should feel the need to change their communication style or collaboration approach just to fit it.

“That would be feeding into the systemic biases and standards that often equates confidence with competency,” she says. “We should not give into that. Just appreciate yourself and your brain and don’t doubt yourself.”

Shae is happy to be surrounded by a diverse range of people at Ripple, even if she currently only gets to see them on video calls. She is based in Hawaii – where she loves to surf – and is looking forward to reuniting with her colleagues once the pandemic is over.

“Being able to really build meaningful and trustful relationships and see all their different perspectives is really important to me,” she concludes. “It’s probably the most fulfilling thing about working here.”

If you are interested in meeting the leaders that are empowering and enabling women in the blockchain industry, join us in our upcoming Women in Blockchain Panel Discussion on March 8th.

Learn more about how we embrace unique perspectives and experiences at Ripple.

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