NEW YORK (Diya TV) — Sreenath “Sree” Sreenivasan has a new job.
The social media guru made headlines when he was laid off from his job as the chief digital officer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and has now been appointed to a position in the same capacity for the entire city.
Mayor Bill de Blasio made the news official Monday, announcing that Sreenivasan will work to increase access the City-led technology initiatives, will reach out to the tech community on the city’s behalf and be the chief of digital policy citywide.
“With Sree Sreenivasan’s wealth of experience, I am confident that he will work to promote transparency, access and progressive values with our digital tools, helping spread access across the five boroughs,” the mayor said in a statement.
“I am exhilarated but also grateful,” Sreenivasan said after the announcement was made. He’s completely aware of the challenge which lies ahead — Sreenivasan is joining an organization with more than 3,000 employees and deal with the digital needs of eight million New York residents.
“What happens in New York has an impact on the world as people pay attention to what happens in NYC,” he said. “There is a lot of importance to what we do as we’ll be setting standards that will help other cities.”
Sreenivasan has already begun the early planning stages of accomplishing the vast task. “New York City has already been very digital,” he said crediting the two previous chief digital officers, Jessica Singleton and Rachel Haot. “I see my role as chief digital officer as more of a chief listening officer. I want to listen to ideas for the city.”
The last few years have proven more than ever that the world is connected through technology, he said, and Sreenivasan plans to look at the use of technology in other countries as part of his plan, particularly in India.
“India has a lot to learn about technology and its metropolitan areas have a particular obligation and need to get technological infrastructure right. Technology can change lives. Millions of people can be let in if it is deployed in the right way, but millions of people can be left out if it is deployed in the wrong way.”
Now age 45, he was one of the early movers in the digital age, building a reputation as a tech maven adept at using social media and he passed on his knowledge to students at Columbia University, where he served as a faculty member of the journalism school and as the school’s chief digital officer. Additionally, while at the university, his efforts were key in the co-founding of the South Asian Journalists Association, a group of over 1,000 journalists of South Asian origin in the U.S. and Canada, serving as the organization’s first president. He continues to serve on the board.
He ended his 20-year tenure at Columbia to join the Met in August 2013, becoming the institution’s first digital officer and lead the venerated museum into the social media age.
His axing came as a shock to the online community earlier this year, but Sreenivasan took this as an opportunity to try something different: he reached out to his online community about his job loss and asked them for suggestions on how he can spend his time.
“I was telling people I need help,” he said. “I got this job because the folks at City Hall saw my notice about being available.”
Currently on a speaking tour in India, Sreenivasan will start his new job in October. Until then, he’ll be busy studying.
“I have to learn about city government, about municipal governance,” he said. He admits he doesn’t have much working knowledge about how municipalities function, however, he knew little to nothing about art when he joined the Met. But he sees this as a challenge more than as a case of having taken on more than he can handle. “That moment will probably come later,” he said. “If you aren’t nervous, aren’t worried, there’s something wrong. That anxiety is what makes you successful.”