Sree is a technology evangelist and skeptic (feel free to ask him how it's possible to be both) based at Columbia University, where he was named the first Chief Digital Officer in July 2012. He is working on various online education, digital and social media initiatives across campus. He also works to help journalists and other use technology in smarter ways (through workshops and SreeTips, a social media blog on CNET).
AT COLUMBIA JOURNALISM SCHOOL: He is a currently a professor of digital journalism at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. After 20 years (one as a student and 19 as a professor, including seven as an assistant and associate dean), he moved to his new role as Chief Digital Officer in the Provost's office in 2012.
For four years, he taught an entrepreneurship class with Ken Lerer, co-founder and chairman of the Huffington Post and now head of Lerer Ventures. He has also taught media marketing classes at Columbia Business School. Because of his interest in startups, he has served as a mentor and adviser to dozens of new ventures, including many by his former students. At the same time, he teaches about intrapreneurship - how to foster innovation and create change within big organizations.
As Dean of Student Affairs, he supervised all aspects of the student experience for 400+ students from 40+ countries and 35+ states - from recruitment to placement and works on curriculum and planning in close partnership with Dean Nicholas Lemann and Academic Affairs Dean Bill Grueskin. The deans of Admissions, Student Services/Student Life and Career Services reported to him and he managed one of the school's largest teams and runs one of the largest budgets ($7.8 million, including $5.8 million in scholarship)s. Using new technology, he introduced several protocols for connecting with students, alumni, faculty and prospective students that have since been adopted in other parts of the university and elsewhere. He also has been involved in creating, building and marketing of new degree programs, including the MA in Specialized Journalism and the joint-degree in Computer Science and Journalism.
An advocate of using technology to improve education, training and storytelling without losing core, traditional values, he has worked on distance-learning and other digital efforts for several years. Before becoming Dean of Student Affairs in 2008, he served as Dean of Students from July 2005-December 2007.
BUILDING A STARTUP: During 2009-11, he was part of the founding team of Digital News Associates - DNAinfo.com - a Manhattan news site with Joe Ricketts, Ameritrade founder (and new owner of the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field). He was the lead consultant, business-plan writer and ideas guy, directly involved in all the initial hires (the team is now 45+ people). The site was named one of the six hottest news startups of 2010 by BusinessInsider and was on New York Magazine's Approval Matrix - "Brilliant" & "Highbrow." It is now expanding its operations to all five NYC boroughs and Chicago.
TELEVISION & DIGITAL VIDEO: Sree has also been a fixture on NYC-area television for
more than 10 years and occasionally appears on various TV shows (on CNN, NBC's Today Show, CNBC and elsewhere) to talk about technology, the media and more. From February 2012, he has been appearing weekly on WCBS-TV. From 2007 to 2009, he was WNBC-TV's tech reporter, covering all kinds of
technology issues, gadgets and trends, appearing twice a week on Channel 4 and blogging for WNBC.com. He
had previously appeared for six years as the "Tech Guru" on WABC-TV (he
made 500+ appearances there). He has hosted and helped produce two half-hour specials about technology: Dec. 2007's "Tech4NY: Holiday Gifts" for WNBC and April 2002's "Computers 101" for WABC. He
has also guest hosted segments of "Asian America" on PBS, a nationally
syndicated English program about Asian American affairs (samples).
FREELANCE TECHNOLOGY WRITING: As a freelance journalist, he has written for The
New York Times, Business Week, Popular Science, Time Digital, National
Journal, India Today, Newsday, Bloomberg, Forbes.com, Sesame Street
Parents, Rolling Stone (samples).
He has been published in several other periodicals, including the Fiji
Sun (in which he got his first byline at 15), and has been a freelance
producer for the "Nightly Business Report" on PBS and a reporter and
editor in India for The Sunday Observer and Business Today. From 2001-2007, he wrote a twice-a-month Web Tips column at Poynter.org (read online and e-mailed to 10,000+ media subscribers); for several years, wrote a weekly "Sree's Smarter Surfing" tip for ShopTalk, the largest
TV-industry newsletter and wrote a weekly tech column for DNAinfo for two+ years. He is currently a paid blogger of CNET News.
SAJA, SPJ & ONA: He is co-founder and former president of SAJA, the South Asian Journalists
a group of 1,000+ South Asian journalists in New
York and across the U.S. and Canada. A former administrator of SAJA's
awards and scholarships programs, he continues to serve on its
executive board and to write for SAJAforum.org, its newsy blog. As the main fundraiser for SAJA, he has helped raise more than $1 million for the organization, which gave away $50,000 in scholarships and $30,000 in mid-career fellowships in 2012. SAJA celebrated its 15th anniversary in July 2009.
For 10 years, he served as faculty adviser to
Columbia's chapter of the Society
of Professional Journalists and won the group's "David Eshelman National
Faculty Adviser of the Year" award in 1998 among 200 campus
From 2000 to 2002, he was the founding
administrator of the Online
Journalism Awards, the world's largest new media contest, run
by Columbia and the Online
News Association (a group he helped co-found in 1998).
TALKS & TRAINING: Over the last 15 years, he has done extensive speaking, training and consulting for more than 50 media and non-media companies in the US and abroad. Among them: NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, NPR, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Reuters, Bloomberg News, Boston Globe, Reader's Digest, Yahoo News, American Society of Magazine Editors, Society of Professional Journalists, Investigative Reporters & Editors, Poynter, United Nations HQ, International Atomic Energy Agency, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Asia Society, New York Public Library, NYT Travel Show, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz, among others.
His workshops are filled with big-picture ideas and practical, hands-on tips that demystify technology, empower participants and raise skill levels - newbies, skeptics and power users alike (see OJR article, "Meet
Columbia's New Media Guru").
In recent years, he has focused his attention on social media and created such unique learning opportunities as Social Media Weekend, Social Media One-Night Stand and more. More than 4,000 people from 25 countries have attended just his social media sessions. His constantly updated social media guide is at http://bit.ly/sreesoc
HONORS: In April 2004, he was named one of the 20 most influential
South Asians in America by Newsweek magazine. In July 2007, India Abroad named
him one of the 50 most influential Indians in America. In 2009, he was named one of AdAge's 25 media people to follow on Twitter and was one of 22 professors named to the "Top 100 Twitterers in Academia" by OnlineSchools.org; in 2010, he was named to SPJ's list of 20 journalists to follow in Twitter (along with three former Columbia students) and Poynter's list of 35 most influential people in social media. In 2011, he was named one of OnlineColleges.net's 50 most social-media-savvy professors in America. In 2012, GQ India named him one of the 30 most powerful digital Indians globally; Huffington Post named him one of 50 media people to follow on Facebook Subscribe (you can find him on Facebook at FB.com/sreenet and FB.com/sreetips).
Sree is especially proud of his work in providing education opportunities to the underprivileged, including minorities and those who are the first in their families to go to college. He has been recognized with three national awards for diversity related work: 2010 Barry Bingham Sr. Fellowship and Award, given in recognition of an educator's outstanding effort to encourage students of color in the field of journalism, from the National Conference of Editorial Writers; the 2007 Lawrence Young Award from the National Association of Mintority Media Executives; and the 2009 lifetime achievment award from Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics.
In 2012, UNITY created a seed list of 100 top journalists of the past century in response to an NYU list that lacked minority journalists. The entry on Sree read, in part, "has revolutionized how journalists use technology." Others named to the list include Christiane Amanpour, Gwen Ifil and the late Ed Bradley, Randy Shilts and Anthony Shadid.
has a Master of Science degree in journalism from Columbia; a Bachelor
of Arts in history from St. Stephen's College, Delhi; a high school
diploma from Marist Brothers High School in the Fiji Islands (he also
studied part of 13th[!] grade at Suva Grammar School in Fiji); a
sixth-grade diploma from P.S. 6 in Manhattan; a kindergarten (or dedskisat)
diploma from Mosow; and a birth certificate from a Catholic hospital in
Tokyo (though he'd be hard-pressed to produce any of these in a pinch).
FAMILY: He lives in Manhattan with his wife, Roopa
Unnikrishnan, a corporate strategy consultant, Rhodes
Scholar and former world-class sports rifle shooter (and an occasional food blogger); and their young twins, Durga & Krishna.
Follow @sree on Twitter