The COO of Block’s TBD explains how to get employees on board with emerging technologies

October 14, 2022, 10:49 AM UTC
Emily Chiu, Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, TBD, Block, speaks during a panel session at Fortune's Most Powerful Women Summit on Oct. 12 in Laguna Niguel, Calif.
Stuart Isett/Fortune

Good morning,

Big tech projects like digital transformation, which CFOs are increasingly steering, are major investments. Not only is it costly, but implementing the technology requires buy-in from employees and even customers. What do you do if there’s resistance?

During a panel discussion at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit this week, I asked four leaders what it takes to get people on board. When it comes to emerging technologies that maybe only a techie would understand, Emily Chiu, co-founder and chief operating officer at TBD, a DeFi business unit of Block, provided some insight.

“We work at the cutting edge of a lot of technologies that I think are very inscrutable to many people,” Chiu explained. “We’re focused on building an open-source developer platform and infrastructure that enables people to build all sorts of applications upon Bitcoin, blockchain technologies, and decentralized identity. That’s not something that we think about every day as human beings.”

Chiu’s advice is to take abstract principles and make them concrete, “especially with nascent technologies where the use cases aren’t clear yet” and people don’t use them every day, she said. Communicate the human benefit of these technologies and connect it back to the organization’s purpose and values, Chiu said. And getting customer buy-in on new technologies points to the “importance of hiring people that represent the customers that you’re trying to serve,” she said. 

Erica Schultz is the president of field operations at Confluent, a data-streaming platform based on Apache Kafka that allows for access to data in real time. Schultz said feedback that she often hears from customers isn’t about technology challenges, but the organizational change that come with adopting new technologies. 

People within the company who originally complained about data being siloed were resistant to letting go of their data, she said. “We do end up spending a lot of time with customers about methodologies we’ve built on how to drive change through your organization, and it’s ultimately people-centric, even though it’s highly technical.” When it comes to tech changes, always connecting it to the greater purpose of the company is helpful,  Schultz said.  

Kathryn Minshew is a founder and CEO of The Muse, an online career platform. The company officially acquired Fairygodboss, an online career community for women, on Wednesday, Minshew said during the discussion. I asked her how she plans to lay the groundwork to communicate with employees so they aren’t resistant to change. 

“We actually told the Fairygodboss team about two or three weeks ago before the deal closed and brought both teams together to sort of work towards co-creating the visions, the systems, and the processes for what the organization should look like together,” Minshew said. “It was helpful in that there was a very strong cultural alignment based on shared values. We’ve also been trying to ferret out those areas where there are differences and then just make very clear, swift decisions that are radically transparent about which systems and processes we’re choosing, and then doubling down.”

With any kind of change, leaders must keep in mind that people will have to go through a change curve, Najoh Tita-Reid, global chief marketing officer at Logitech, said. 

“Humans will always resist change,” Tita-Reid said. “We could have the best technology in the world. They could have wanted it. Asked us for it, and helped design it. And still, resist it. My role in the organization is to make sure that we are people-first, and make sure as a design thinking company, which Logitech is, that we keep the consumer at the center.”

The more you understand a “human-centric approach,” the learning curve regarding change, and show empathy, “I think the more that you can help people get [to acceptance] faster,” she said. “Logitech co-designs with our consumers and our employees,” Tita-Reid said. “We work to make sure that the tools that we create are fit for purpose as best as possible.” 

Have a great weekend.

Sheryl Estrada

Big deal

New Fidelity Investments research takes a look at women’s outlook on their career, relationships, caregiving responsibilities and the impacts of the pandemic, in comparison to last year. Regarding career, overall, the majority of women surveyed believe they can succeed in their job (84%), are content with a flexible work schedule (80%), and have a good work-life balance (77%), the report found. However, when looking at different generations, almost one third (31%) of both Gen Z and millennial women’s outlook about their job security and career improved, compared to Gen X and Boomer women (21%). Another finding is, overall, just 57% of women said they understand how to negotiate or ask for a promotion. And, 85% of working women don’t plan to negotiate for a raise or promotion in the next 12 months. The findings are based on a nationwide survey of 2,008 U.S. adults ages 18 and older.

Going deeper

Here are a few weekend reads:

"Generation No Thanks: Millionaire millennials are giving up on stocks and bonds—and it could have ‘significant implications’ for the future," by Will Daniel

"The historic deterioration in the U.S. housing market, as told by 3 charts," by Lance Lambert

"TIAA CEO Thasunda Brown Duckett’s father missed out on years of retirement savings. She wants to make sure yours doesn’t," by Paolo Confino

"The CEO of a mental health startup, who has spent 9,000 hours meditating, shares other ways he de-stresses," by Fortune editors


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Steve Yendall was named CFO at SiriusPoint Ltd. (NYSE: SPNT), a global specialty insurer and reinsurer, effective Oct. 31. Yendall replaces current SiriusPoint CFO David Junius, who has resigned to pursue other opportunities. Yendall was most recently managing director at Guy Carpenter, Canada and North America. Before that, Yendall was CFO and COO at RSA Canada Group. 

Carl Anderson was named CFO at XPO Logistics, Inc. (NYSE: XPO), a provider of freight transportation services, effective Nov. 8. Anderson will replace Ravi Tulsyan, who will leave the company after assisting with the CFO transition. Anderson most recently served as CFO of Meritor, Inc., a global supplier of OEM and aftermarket auto parts. 

Chip Zint was named CFO and senior vice president at Deluxe (NYSE: DLX), effective Oct. 17. Deluxe invented the checkbook a century ago and has since expanded into digital payments and business technology. Zint, who joined the company in 2020 as vice president of corporate finance, will succeed Scott Bomar, who is stepping down to take on a senior role at a former employer. 


“Companies are still confronting this enormous churn and losing people, and they don’t know what to do to hang on to people. They’re definitely hanging on to workers for dear life just because they’re so scarce.” 

— Julia Pollak, chief economist at ZipRecruiter, told the New York Times

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