In middle school, Eileen Lowry swapped her band class out to try her hand at computer science. She hasn't looked back since.
"I've always been fascinated with 'how do things work?'"
Today, she's tackling what some analysts are calling the most transformative technology since the dawn of the internet as a program director for IBM Blockchain Labs & Garage North America in New York City.
Blockchain is a record of transactions — a transparent and tamper-proof digital ledger — that allows users to share information quickly, freely and without fear that it could be altered without user detection. While many associate the technology with the digital currency bitcoin, its uses have expanded in a big way, currently being applied by leading companies like IBM and Wal-Mart across industries including financial services, retail and logistics.
"It's just a fascinating technology — there are so many different aspects to it from talking about transactions and instilling trust in that," Lowry said. "That's my every day, talking to clients as to why they want to instill trust in their transactions and with their clients at well."
Globally, IBM has 1,500 employees working on blockchain and is looking to hire 150 additional workers around the world in the space. IBM and Wal-Mart are currently working together to leverage blockchain to address food-safety challenges. The technology can be used to trace food from "farm to fork," a process that typically would take nearly a week, in just seconds.
"It allows people to exchange value without knowing the identity of each other necessarily, in a secure way on the back end," said Jason Kelley, IBM's global manager for blockchain services. "On the front end, it's simplicity, transparency and trust. Think of all the cost, time and often waste that happens in the exchange of value — blockchain rids that from the system."