Place of residence – Máirín Murray: Based in Dublin and from County Down
Please describe a day in your life.
Each day is a hectic but joyful mix of connecting with women tech founders and supporters, drilling into the root causes of current entrepreneurial inequity, seeking answers, stirring the debate and ideating solutions. There’s been huge momentum with our start-up community in 2023 since hosting our TechFoundHer Bootcamp, so at times; I’ve fallen into the trap of riding that wave and neglecting my routines of daily coastal walks, regular sea swims and hot yoga. I’m honoured to be an ambassador at Huckletree coworking space and really enjoy having a welcoming physical work home to be located in.
How many projects are you currently working on? Please describe them.
TechFoundHer is my main focus! We’re working for gender equality in the start-up ecosystem in Ireland and beyond and are on a mission to unlock the potential of women to start and grow tech companies for the benefit of the economy, world, and society. We are data and evidence-driven, and one tranche of work has been seeking out gender-aggregated data – you cannot change what you don’t measure, so facts matter. We believe that you don’t have to be a coder to start a tech company, and we’re passionate about building women entrepreneurs’ tech confidence and competence to innovate and harness tech. Tech is not cheap so closing the funding chasm is essential. We’re in planning mode for our flagship event – TechFoundHer bootcamp, which will take place in Dublin on 16 April 2024.
In your opinion, who is the most influential person/company in the world of technology these days?
Women founders and leaders face issues around visibility and equal representation in the media and at tech conferences, so many of us individual women are not ‘perceived’ as being influential – if that’s your understanding of influence. However, I believe that the individual’s age is over, and the future is all about nurturing and harnessing collective intelligence, energy, and values. There are amazing women like Sarah Porters– founder of Inspired Minds and World AI Summit, and Mia Shah-Dand, of 100 Brilliant Women in AI, who lead the lights in creating powerful collectives sup, porting diversity, and leading the discourse about the role and potential of AI.
If you could pick one app/product/project existing now that you wish you were involved in, what would it be
Omdena is a collaborative platform building innovative, ethical, and efficient AI and Data Science solutions to real-world problems. It’s a really powerful movement that harnesses citizens across the world to use tech to have a powerful positive impact.
What would you like the industry to look like in ten years?
I would like a reset with a change in focus away from AI as Augmented Intelligence to AW Augmented Wisdom. We can’t afford to harness AI to increase productivity simply. We need to harness tech to support our values, choices and judgement and reimagine and create a better world.
What are the three characteristics you have that make you successful in tech?
Playful, Stubborn, Driven
What is the most challenging thing you had to deal with during your career?
A challenge has been overcoming people-pleasing and workaholic tendencies and feeling secure and confident without looking for external validation. My focus is no longer on being liked but on having an impact. Someone said that it’s easy to be labelled a difficult woman; that’s why there are so many of us. I now embrace this and don’t worry about the judgement of others.
What is your greatest achievement up until today?
I’ll let others celebrate my achievements. My focus is on the work. At this point in my life, I’m aware that time is fleeting and finite, and I’m impatient to have an impact.
In your opinion, what could leaders do to bring more women into the field?
This question raises so many other questions. The fact is that many tech corporations have a challenge not just with recruiting women but retaining women. The question is, why don’t women thrive in these environments and feel that they belong? I believe that’s why we need more women creating and leading their own tech companies so they can nurture a different culture and values from the beginning.
How could creating communities in the technology field bring positive social change?
Creating communities in the tech field is essential to bring about the social change we need. I take inspiration from medieval Irish monasteries. In the 7th century, at a monastery in County Down, on the Island of Nendrum, they harnessed the power of tides – it’s the site of the earliest water tidal mill in the world. This gives us a clue as to how we can harness tech for positive social change. Monasteries were collectives – communities of learning, and they came up with local solutions but shared knowledge through networks of global reach.
What is your next goal?
My moon shot with TechFoundHer is to accelerate women founders’ flight path to innovate with tech and maximise their positive impact. The goal is to create something that can be shared and replicated globally.
Which famous person would you like to have dinner with and why?
As this is a fantasy question, I’ll choose someone who has passed on. I would love to have dinner with Andy Warhol – maybe I’d get invited over to his mother’s for supper. He has always been a hero of mine – love his creativity, his attitude – his use of tech – how he is both ‘outsider’ and commercially astute – how his pop art was humorous, accessible and a mashup with other media. And always been inspired by how he created the Factory – an inclusive collective that we’d probably call today a coworking, coliving space.
Where would you like to travel next?
People are more important than places – so I enjoy anywhere that I’m having craic and meeting and connecting with others passionate about harnessing tech to make a positive difference in the world.
What did you dream of creating/inventing/doing as a child?
As a child, I wasn’t dreaming about the future; I was too busy creating/ inventing/doing – my days were filled with running wild in the countryside with my siblings and cousins – rolling down hills, building tree houses, making dens, pretending to be priests giving out holy communion, dressing up, singing trad Irish songs, – all the usual creativity and invention.
What tips do you give to women who want to go into leadership?
It’s important to explore and discover our unique gifts and purpose – I love the concept of the heroines journey – a sheroe who goes on an outer and inner journey to reach a place of strength. When we know ourselves and how we want to contribute we have the energy to have more impact. We can all show leadership no matter what our role is – when we bring creativity and kindness to our work and service. I believe it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness, so when we want to bring about change, it’s important to focus on building the new, not simply destroying what’s broken. As women, we don’t need to be apologists for corporate or start-up cultures riddled with bias; instead, we can channel our energy into working for system change, not being cheerleaders for the status quo.