Sallyann Della Casa launched the world’s first utility NFT, a marketplace tokenizing industry experts time and wisdom in October 2022. She is one of the 4% of women globally who has a patent-pending method to signal and train agents in human ingenuity and wisdom.
In 2016, Sallyann served as the only female at a C-suite level at Careem to help stabilize the workforce and shape its organizational culture. GLEAC her Web 2.0 platform, which co-pilots your learning, innovation and problem solving with industry experts, powered Expo 2020 Skills of the Future Pavilion, up-skills African youth on the YOMA UNICEF Platform and also empowers learners on the JIO platform across India. She also has a weekly NFT column and a Metaverse Podcast Business School on Spotify.
Recently, the team of CXO Magazine spoke with Sallyann to know her thoughts on gender competencies in the tech world. She also gave a brief glimpse into her professional background, areas of interest, the inspiration behind establishing her company, GLEAC, and a lot more. Following are the excerpts from the interview.
Do you think that women have the same opportunities as men in the tech world?
Yes, women have equal possibilities to develop and solve problems, which is what excellent technology does. But even now, it seems unusual to find women in IT like me.
It’s possible that jobs in the computer industry like being a software engineer or data scientist don’t require a lot of social interaction, which is something women typically enjoy. It is also probably why women don’t seek out or excel in these very isolating jobs. Also, any creator of a tech company needs financial investors since there is a lot of uncertainty involved in developing a tech product, which takes two years before you start to see income. Women are awful at negotiating for themselves and asking for money when they are unsure of the actual outputs and outcomes, which is where every startup founder is before they produce a real product that has product market fit. However, it is surely not because of a lack of opportunities—at least not in the contemporary world.
When you frame technology in this way, it becomes warm and fluffy for everyone, including women! Technology is just a conduit of how I and we provide the world access to our bodies of work at scale.
Sallyann, can you tell us about your professional background and areas of interest?
My background is not a straight line, but rather a zag. If I told you that I had even considered starting a tech firm six years ago, I would be lying. I have no prior experience, yet here I am trying to scale tall and broad after raising money.
What distinguishes me is that I have a strong sense of curiosity, I have faith in my capacity to learn, I dig-in and I teach while I learn like a ninja, which enables me to internalize and accelerate my learning and delivery. Because this superpower exists within me, I am able to say YES a lot more and I am a cool cat in situations that are risky.
Even though I had no prior experience with app judging at the time, I would not have established GLEAC if I had not responded “hell yeah” to becoming a judge for the WSA (World Summit Awards) on APPs for Social Good in Brazil, Kuwait etc. And I believe that my proximity to data scientists and the Careem founders as Curator of Culture also provided me the confidence to assert, “Yeah, I can do that too!”
The one constant in my life’s work has been human identity + connection + our capacity to show up as we are (regardless of age, education, or experience) and get equal opportunity. This has been true for me as a young lawyer at 22, while writing my first book Who Will I Become, running my Foundation Growing Leaders since 2011, leading culture at Careem, teaching, and in 2022 tokenizing the human wisdom and ingenuity of Lovely Humans (the world’s top experts) with NFT and blockchain technology.
I am really fortunate in that my area of expertise, human ingenuity, also happens to be my area of strength. and wisdom and because of this I can make a living doing it and it does not feel like work….well most days.
What was the inspiration behind establishing your company, GLEAC? What sets it apart from other market competitors?
By providing you with access to the top experts in the world, GLEAC enables you to solve problems, innovate and develop more quickly. The idea behind GLEAC is really rather straightforward. Do you prefer to talk to someone who has done it before and can teach you in a 60-minute call rather than taking a weeklong online course? Now consider this broadly with the teams in your company. What if they had instant access to specialists like a cloud hovering over their teams?
There are two markets on GLEAC. Our buyers and users are on one side, and our specialists and mentors are on the other. Compared to most industry expert networks, it is highly unique. First, our experts and mentors create a sense of community, share knowledge, and inspire millions with their written responses via apis which we use to power platforms like the UNICEF Yoma platform and the Jio platform in India, among others. Our network of more than 500 people is incredibly active, and the fact that every investor we have outside of venture capital firms is a member of our mentor and expert community speaks a lot. For our mentors and experts who are heavily active in terms of revenue and/or activity, we additionally have a 10% equity pool.
On the buyer’s side, we have a number of USPs. We are the only business in the world to tokenize the time spent speaking with our experts and create identifying intellectual property from those conversations that both the experts and the Buyers can co-own and co-develop. We do this by employing blockchain and NFT technology. Second, our specialists are CEOs of some of the most cutting-edge businesses in the world. Examples include Dr. Maxmilian Fleisher, the head of Siemens Innovation, Clint Nagata, the 2002 Singapore Designer of the Year, and Lars Rottweiler, the CTO of a major digital bank. Although they are not consultants, these people can mobilize anything they discuss with a Buyer using their networks, resources, and knowledge. Thirdly, we use professionals who are familiar with one another across disciplines to moderate these sessions.
What are the aims and ideals that guide you as an individual and a professional?
I included it in the company’s goal statement, which is to be a fun place to learn, be ourselves, and have equal opportunities to do cool things together. I believe that this is essentially the way I try to live each day, both personally and professionally.
Where or whom do you seek motivation and inspiration from? How?
People that sign their work with effort and excellence and in their own distinctive tones, like a Picasso on a canvas, inspire me. It might range from a mother’s parenting style to a geeky friend’s excel formulas. Those that have a different perspective on the world and make me pause to consider what I think is true tend to draw and inspire me. They can persuade me to change my mind.
I’m also willing to chat with anyone for 15 minutes and/or arrange a quick coffee date sometimes.
You often say you do not believe in empowering women, why is that?
Women already have power. That is why I tend to avoid attending all of these occasions frequently arranged in order to empower other women. No one can give a woman power…it’s an inside job.
Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I’m not sure, but I hope to take my breath away;-) I believe I would have sold or left GLEAC ‘s day-to-day operations and moved on to my next method of disseminating my body of work. Or who knows, I may take 3 months and sit in a forest and write my next book with ChatGPT!
Throughout your career, you have and continue to don numerous hats and excel in all the roles. What is your secret mantra for being successful?
A uni-tasker, I am. I believe that individuals who are NOT content with mediocrity should not multitask. Even though I’ve accomplished a lot, if you look closely, you’ll notice that I seldom work on more than one item at once, and I can go deep because I’m good at compartmentalizing. In terms of success, every one of us defines it differently based on how we see ourselves. Since we are obsessed with one version—often the version of other people rather than our own—success never comes to us, I believe that a lot of us overlook this point.
What are your passions, and how do you unplug from work?
Success sometimes is just peace of mind. I just had a very successful few days off. I cherish nature. I love reading. I also enjoy sleeping. So, all I did was to lay on the grass all day and listen to the birds, go bicycling and hiking to work up a nice sweat, and then read, by myself at times and then with good company.
If you could have one superpower, what would you like it to be?
To relive some moments with our deceased loved ones and utter the unspoken things. I can only now, as I get older and wiser, see the worth of getting another chance with the people I loved, like my dad, uncle, grandma, aunt, etc. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us and a gift from above. I try now to say out loud and with courage everything I need to those I deeply love and/or care about.
What piece of advice would you give to aspiring female professionals?
Until your last breath, live your dreams out loud and you do not need anyone’s permission to discover and explore the different versions of yourself at any moment.