Máirín Murray – Technology’s ethics evangelist.

SheroTales

I don’t have one hat that will fit Máirín Murray. She is a constant source of creativity and refreshing changes for the Irish society. She is an educator, digital leader, activist, Tedx speaker, and an ex-BBC producer.

I met Máirín while doing the Twitter challenge held by Ciara Kelly – #100daysofwalking. Where there is a movement for the good (and in Ireland), you are most likely to bump into her. She currently inspires us with her attempts over the summer at 5am waking up and staying off digital until 6pm!

When a digital creator and innovator advocates and leads by example to go ‘off digital’ at least a few hours every day, you get a sense of the conscience behind technology. Not surprisingly, Máirín’s background includes philosophy as well as technology. Harnessing technology for making the world a better place has always been her mantra.

She was one of the founding members of ‘Refugees Welcome’ Northern Ireland which was part of a Europe-wide project to help citizens connect and support refugees and asylum seekers.  She’s the co-founder of Tech for Good Dublin. She recently launched TechFoundHer aimed at celebrating female tech leaders. This is while she manages her digital content studio – Digital Doddle.

Máirín became an advocate for ‘Tech for Good’ on her career path which includes working as Senior Producer for BBC’s digital youth service – Blast to her work today.  She started out as a young teenager volunteering at Belfast’s community video unit and doing some radio packages for BBC NI’s Bottom Line. With graduation in philosophy from Trinity College Dublin, she completed a Masters at Manchester University researching art and conflict – which she said was a bit of a detour.    Coming from County Down, she has always been interested in the nature of the societal division, how debate can become polarised and the flip side of how dialogue can support respect for difference.

In 2000 she completed her masters in multimedia systems which was perfect as it combined her passion for storytelling with her science side – at school her favourite subject was Physics. Her career took off, working at the BBC first in Belfast and then London developing digital platforms and campaigns that supported inclusion and learning.

Finally, she took the plunge to start her own production company that is today’s Digital Doddle – a tech for good agency specialising in designing and implementing ‘purpose-led’ projects. As an ‘ethics evangelist’, she probably is the biggest advocate in Ireland, of channeling technology as an enabler for social impact and positive change. Today, more than ever, that is the focus we need to bring in every corner of the world. Technology is growing by leaps and bounds and there is no going back for us. So, paths of technology paved with the end motive of a better impact for society is crucial for generations to follow.

In July 2019, she gave the Tedx talk with her co-founder Ellen Ward on ‘Community + Technology = Positive Social Change’. She, along with Ellen started the venture ‘ Tech for Good Dublin’ which is a group that believes in the power of technology to positively impact people, communities, and the planet. As a group, they have launched and participated in a multitude of events that focus on creativity, sustainability, and society. Tech for Good Dublin has also been an active and constant member of The Good Summit – an event held by Trinity College, Ireland to bring together the people who do things differently.

In February 2020, Máirín launched TechFoundHer with a mission to support other women entrepreneurs and women in tech. TechFoundHer is a community by women for women building solidarity between women leaders in tech locally and globally.

Speaking on her constant efforts in evolving the Dublin tech community, Mairin says ‘I want to play a part in nurturing a creative community that’s supportive of different ideas and celebrates and builds on each other’s successes – together, there is a lot more we can achieve!’

She was featured among the 50 people ‘to watch’ by The Irish Times..but with her ‘positivity as a purpose and technology as a tool for it’ agenda for life, I would feature her in a ‘to follow’ list!

Sangeetha Janachandran – Metamorphosing Movie Marketing in Mollywood

Stories Social

Writing about Sangeetha Janachandran – is like telling the story of the storyteller. A PhD scholar in Social Media and Communications, whose thesis on the ‘Evolution of communication in the age of social media-a case study of Kerala’, was one of the initial researches in Bangalore University on social media – she has been invested in storytelling and social media from the age of Orkut and Blogging.

Being the topper in Calicut university in BA Functional English and in Bangalore university for MS Communication -her laurels in literature and studies could in itself account for a story. But I’m more fascinated in the journey of this ‘butterfly’ (her blogworld name from 2008) – who would hug and talk for endless hours, who would blog so melodiously about hand-picked songs and sing for you whenever you ask, who would have adorable pet names for each one in the group like luttapi, chakkara, muthu and call them all with equal passion! Her warmth and compassion for every single person in her journey cannot be contained in the words here – if you have been a part of her journey, you would just know.

I’m fascinated with the metamorphosis of this carefree butterfly into the ‘penning butterfly’ of Malayalam Movie Marketing. Movie Marketing across India is a male-dominated industry with a few exceptions. Mollywood alone has very few females like Seetha Lakshmi, Manju Gopinath, Athira Diljith and Sangeetha Janachandran (Stories Social) as the marketing and media planners of movies.

Publicity and promotions of movies in Kerala has evolved much from the simple poster designing and televised interviews to a vast expanse of activities. Sangeetha takes the untrodden route of the complete gamut of online + traditional movie marketing here. While the rest primarily focus on media co-ordinations. Stories Social does entire movie marketing and communications- it encompasses PR, Social Media, Offline Activations, Alternate Platform TieUps, service provider tie ups, Digital and OTT. The efforts behind such a coordination is more than what I can list here and to take the onus of that single-handedly and come out successful is admirable. Stories Social was launched in May, 2020 amidst all the chaos of Coronavirus! In one of her interviews recently, the host describes her as a ‘pheonix’ rather than a butterfly – and I should say I’m tempted to steal those words.

Sangeetha took a very conscious and bold choice as she stepped into handling celebrity accounts, Kochi Music Foundation and W.C.C. All of it had endless online, verbal abuse and she took it all in as she managed these accounts. Malayalam movie buffs should ideally take pride in educated women like her who carve spaces for the future females and explore the unexplored roles behind the screen – but as you can see that doesn’t happen here. Having a female voice in promoting movies is more critical than we can imagine because movies often mould the minds of the young and how you project them, makes a lot of difference to the society.

Opening up on her journey through these less travelled roads  – Sangeetha said that she has been working as a communications professional handling PR and corporate communications since 2006 soon after her MS in Communications. The academic in her couldn’t help commenting to make a note that it is not MA (the art of communication) but the science of communication she took up 😊. She was picked as one of the 10 staff in India of Vox Public Relations(subsidiary of Text 100 Public relations) and started her stint of PR in the software industry with IT giants like IBM, BMW and American Express Bank.

2008 was a major turn in her life with a brief but hard struggle with tuberculosis and a sudden arranged marriage which took her to Dubai. While she was on a break from work for her son’s birth and initial few months, she continued to freelance and study just to stay connected. In Dubai, she worked for the Kalyan Jewellers family and other brands Like Aster group through an agency and got her first film – Odiyan. In 2013, she reapplied for a PhD in Bangalore University and moved to Bangalore to complete the course.  This bit, albeit sounding like a cake walk – was the walk on fire that would strengthen her. Her lone days prepared her for starting afresh and alone with her child in Cochin.

2018 – a decade later, she found another turn. The public hatred that her soul sister and actress Parvathy Thiruvothu and W.C. C received impacted her deep enough to volunteer for them as their social media manager. What ensued was unbelievable verbal abuse from the public. While I could sum the event in 10 words – it is much harder to explain what one emotionally undergoes. All the negativity and abuse for something we did not do or for a cause we dared to stand up for. It is extremely easy for many to brush WCC off as an unwanted ‘feminist’ fashion. It is tough to convince that people who fight for the cause of justice for females in the movie industry today, very well knowingly take the heat for making the place better for future generations.

Sangeetha’s immensely grateful to her parents and sister for the freedom they gave in making these choices and the trust they had in her all along. It wasn’t easy and they feared for her health, but they gave the wings to her dreams by being the pillar she needed at all times.

2018 also gave Sangeetha the film ‘Uyare’ which was her first independent project. She calls Uyare ‘her bravest and most precious first in her journey’ as she found a foothold after deciding to start on her own and years of abandonment that came along with that hard decision. From there, it was a steady stream of beautiful projects like Kochi Music Foundation, Virus, Android Kunjappan version 5.25, Anugraheethan Antony, Aaha, One Movie, Minnal Murali, Varthamanam etc. As she weaves out beautiful stories for each one of her projects giving them the much-deserved zenith of success in people’s heart and box offices, she says that she picks projects that tell a good story!

“I thrive in stories. I always have and you would know. My email signature is ‘we are the stories we tell ourselves’ – and I believe in that”. We all do I thought as she said her signature line. We all love stories. But, to be able to fall and pick up ourselves with a new story and to weave loads of positive ones out there for everyone else while getting a steady stream of negativity is not an easy story in itself 😊 While Sangeetha and her ‘Stories Social’ take wings in the Malayalam movie industry, here is hope that Kerala will have many proud, progressive, feminist stories for the future.