Rebecca Mqamelo, a student from Minerva’s Class of 2021, saw working with QUOINE as an unparalleled opportunity in finance. A Mistletoe startup company and leading virtual currency exchange organization based in Tokyo, Japan, QUOINE received official licensing by the Japan Financial Services Agency (JFSA) in 2017 for an initial coin offering (ICO). With the ICO complete, QUOINE next needed to raise capital to ensure company security and build brand awareness.
As an intern, Mqamelo’s role meant building her professional writing and community building skills within the financial services and blockchain sectors. While the role seemed like a natural fit for someone with a background in finance, Rebecca was new to the virtual currency space. Instead of letting this limit her professional learning, Mqamelo took initiative to create and develop non-technical policies and programs that the startup needed to have more impact in the crowded financial technology space.
In her first week, Mqamelo noticed that there was a lack of cross-team visibility. Attempting to solve this challenge, she initiated the first internal newsletter at QUOINE, named The Week, which its Communications Team sent weekly to the more than 300 employees. “I realized that as a startup, people needed to get a sense of what the entire company was doing. So I started interviewing everyone from senior management to my fellow interns to share their voices within the company,” she recounts. The internal newsletter added a level of transparency that QUOINE needed, increasing cross-team collaboration and building employee brand engagement. Combining her love of writing and community-building, and because she could tell that it helped people feel included, the newsletter was an excellent first project. Mqamelo’s questions during these interviews were more than surface level, too. During one of her interviews, she impressed the Head of Corporate Planning, Roy Akiyama, so much that he recruited her to work on creating a strategic initiative with the Corporate Planning Team, a target-oriented management system.
In collaboration with the Corporate Planning Team, Mqamelo utilized her cross-team knowledge to define other projects that would help various QUOINE departments. Pairing the newsletter interviews with data analysis and forecasting allowed Mqamelo and Corporate Planning to create key project indicators and set measurable goals for other teams in the organization.
“I don't expect someone to come in here and understand, say, public-private key-encryption schemas or how nodes work,” explains Global Head of Business Development and Sales, Seth Melamed, who managed Mqamelo throughout her internship. “What I do expect from people is that when we give them a lead, they run with it, and that's exactly what [Mqamelo] did. And she showed so much interest and creativity. I didn't have to hold her hand; I just needed to give her direction and she just ran with it. It was a real pleasure to work with her.”
In addition to managing the company newsletter and strategizing with the Corporate Planning Team, Mqamelo worked with the Business Development Team to improve the marketing and design for a new feature of the ICO, the Mission Control Platform. Thinking about long term brand strategy and making stories accessible to both investors and the general public, she expanded QUOINE’s public presence externally, by creating long-form content pieces to explain specific topics within blockchain and cryptocurrency technology.
Melamed acknowledges Mqamelo’s hard work and natural talent, adding that, “She really quickly understood our vision and was able to articulate it in a form that we could use to explain to the external world. She's very articulate and she's put it in a way that people will understand, absorb, appreciate, and tell our story… she's done a great job with that.”
“I wasn’t afraid to question things, which I could see was appreciated, if somewhat unconventional coming from someone so young and new in the company,” Mqamelo explains. This ability, to ask the right kind of questions that spur innovative solutions and growth, can be attributed to possessing the skills to thrive in complex systems: thinking critically, thinking creatively, communicating effectively, and interacting effectively. By learning a set of broad Foundational Concepts and practicing additional Habits of Mind (HCs), Minerva students are able to quickly assess novel environments, identify problematic challenges, creatively think of resolutions, and effectively communicate their process and recommendation to others.
“All the HCs on leadership and teamwork skills we learn, such as #leadprinciples [applying principles of effective leadership], and our Complex Systems course in general helped me through my internship,” Mqamelo says. “At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what [job] you’re doing – you’re working with people. People are what make the system ‘complex’. So the challenge is learning to problem solve in diverse groups, as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
This mindset, which uses learned skills and specific ways of thinking almost autonomously in daily behavior is one of the goals of the Minerva curriculum: enabling students, who are already incredibly passionate people, with the competencies to truly succeed.
Continuing her work with QUOINE, as a consultant during the academic year, Mqamelo is excited to advance the company’s marketing and business strategies. Additionally, when the Mission Control Platform is released, her content will be published to the website, unifying and explaining QUOINE’s brand and mission to the public.
When asked to rate the internship experience with Mqamelo and Minerva, Melamed positively responds, “Without a doubt, without any hesitation, I would work with a Minerva student again.”