March 27, 2024

5 Things You'll Love About SystAIn3r

By Shanda Nelson, Product Design Lead & Mentor @ Studio Joonly

In late 2023, I left my job after experiencing burnout symptoms and I really felt the need to reconnect with myself and other women in tech. I began by grabbing coffee and lunches with long-time friends and former colleagues. By pure coincidence, I was connected with someone who invited to volunteer for the very first SystAIn3r event.

Here are 5 takeaways from SystAIn3r's 2023 Hackathon event and why you'll love this year's Summit & Unconference Retreat.

First of all, it's pronounced / and even though I had very little experience with Web3 and AI, I was welcomed with open arms and warm hearts from the organizers. The essence of the SystAIn3r programs is to empower women in tech. At the end of the hackathon, I went home knowing more about how to design for these domains but also I left feeling more confident in myself.

2023 SystAIn3r Hackathon in Munich

1. Connect with smart, ambitious people from all over the world

Because I had joined as a volunteer two weeks before the hackathon, I wasn't sure what to expect or what to do but after the first day, I realized just how many women there are working in cyber security, data science, AI engineering etc. It was such a privilege to be exposed to all these aspiring entrepreneurs who came together from different parts of the world – Women from South America, Germany, India, the US and more.

Systainer participants

2. Crypto, Web3, AI is not just a man's domain

I've mainly worked in EdTech and AdTech and admittedly, it's been very difficult for me to find work as a Product Designer in the FinTech / Crypto industries. Some tech recruiters have told me that FinTech companies mainly hire those who have extensive experience in the domain but if you look at some of the team pages for those tech companies, you'll see that R&D consists of mostly males. At the SystAIn3r hackathon, there were nearly 100 women in tech whose stories had a shared theme –

"My input is dismissed a lot at work and I'm the only one in the team who is asked to explain my ideas."

Being marginalized is a shared experience amongst women working in product tech but thankfully, there was no shortage of support from the organizers, volunteers and sponsors of SystAIn3r. They helped the participants access tools for success from on-site mentors and keynote speakers. 

3. Talks from industry experts on team chemistry & storytelling

Two talks stood out to me the most – One was from the representatives from Deloitte on "business chemistry" within teams and another talk from Dominic Boenisch, CPO of Quest Vitality, on how to structure and present your business pitch.Deloitte's interactive workshop on team dynamics and different roles within a team was a great ice-breaker for everyone to get to know each other.

Deloitte presentation on Business Chemistry

I learned that of the four types of team players, I was most likely an Integrator who had some traits of a Guardian and a Pioneer

Regardless of what role you play in your team, we learned that the best business pitches are when a presenter:

4. Support and positivity through wellness integration

Perhaps the best thing to do when aiming for work-life balance is to weave in wellness breaks into your daily schedule. Hengameh Bolouri of Living 100 & Beyond, re-energized each hackathon team by introducing us to low-effort, high impact exercises that we can do to keep our blood flowing and our brains happy throughout the long hackathon days.

2023 Systainer Hackathon presentation

5. It takes all disciplines to build a product

And finally, one of the key learnings I observed was how essential it is to have diversity of disciplines within a team and how relevant it is to practice empathy. Design mentorship and support was limited at the hackathon – Likely, because female designers are not encouraged enough to work in Web3, AI, Crypto or Blockchain. 

So many of the teams consisted of engineers, data scientists and entrepreneurs but many of them required help creating a visual presentation or prototype. So if you are a Product Designer and you're curious about the topics above, join SystAIn3r's Summit & Unconference Retreat!

Systainer 2024 invite to Crypto Castle Summit