Booking.com selected Seema Johnson, the co-founder and COO of blockchain-based payments and ID platform Nuggets, as Entrepreneur of the Year in the company’s Technology Playmaker Awards on April 9.

The Playmaker Awards were launched by the global travel company in 2017 to recognize the achievements of women in the technology sector.

CryptoNewspeople spoke to Johnson to discuss her work at Nuggets, what the award means to her, and the representation of women in blockchain.

Seema Johnson named entrepreneur of the year

Johnson expressed pride in having received Booking.com’s award, stating that it signifies recognition for the hard work, grit, and determination she has put into her endeavors over the years.

The award’s panel of judges, which included representatives from Facebook, Microsoft, Skyscanner, and Booking.com, described Nuggets as an impressive and “innovative application of blockchain and biometrics to transform online security.”

“I’m particularly proud as these awards celebrate the exceptional contributions that women all around the world are making to the technology industry,” Seema stated.

Nuggets launches new product in regulatory sandbox

As Nuggets’ COO, Seema directs and manages the operational running and commercialization of the business, and also leads the firm’s fundraising initiatives. Johnson states she is currently developing the go-to-market strategy for Nuggets’ new “Secure Document Storage” product. 

“This product creates a repository of personal and payment data, storing it securely via the blockchain — and is owned and controlled by the end-user,” she states, adding that the data can be used to access financial services.” 

Nuggets’ Secure Document Storage is currently being tested within a regulatory sandbox under the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority.

Despite momentum, work still needed to even gender divide in tech

Johnson has built a management team featuring a female COO, CRO, and CMO — showcasing the talents of women within the distributed ledger technology industry.

On the question of female representation within the blockchain and technology sectors, Seema stated that “there is definite momentum, but it’s going to take some time to see a more balanced playing field in tech,” adding: 

“We need more female leaders and role models, not only in blockchain, but also in the wider tech industry. We need to raise their profile, to inspire girls and young women to pursue STEM subjects as a springboard into these industries. We need as many women interested in this industry as possible.“

“I’d love to see more VC money made accessible to women leading great projects, so more female-driven startups can succeed,” she adds.

Significant female under-representation at managerial level

Seema states that “the issue of underrepresentation doesn’t lie exclusively at the executive level, it begins lower down the corporate ladder.” 

“The problem isn’t about getting more women in executive-level jobs, it’s about placing more women in managerial roles — which is crucial if we’re to expand the available pool of women at each authority level,” states Johnson.

“Dubbed the ‘broken-rung effect’ – a disproportionately low number of women occupying managerial roles means that there are simply fewer women to promote when executive roles become available. Progress made toward equity at managerial levels will inevitably lead to an improvement in the number of women in C-suite positions across various industries.”