Shruti Muruganandan spent her summer at an advertising agency as part of the MAIP Fellowship program.
#ProfilesOfTenacity: Shruti Muruganandan
Why did you choose Grady and your course of study?
I decided on advertising as my course of study by sheer luck. I came into UGA without a clear idea of what I wanted to pursue and took ADPR 3100 upon the recommendation of my advisor, who suggested it because I was interested in a career that combined creativity with logic and critical thinking. ADPR 3100, or Principles of Advertising, introduced me to the field and to all the limitless bounds of possibilities of creative and strategic work, and I decided then that it was for me.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
My name in Sanskrit means “melody” or “music”. Not surprisingly, music was a huge part of my life growing up – I played the viola, the violin and even a bit of the drums. I was involved in Indian Carnatic singing and was a Bharatanatyam dancer for a while.
What does the word “tenacity” mean to you?
To me, tenacity describes someone who has the courage and determination to keep on the path they believe in, irrespective of what others think or do. Choosing the field of advertising often meant that I didn’t have anyone in my immediate community to go to for advice or guidance – I don’t have an aunt, a cousin, or a family friend in the industry that I might look to for assistance. It also meant that, as a woman of color, I don’t see many people who look like me or have a background or upbringing like me in my industry. My perspective is often unique compared to that of my peers, which sometimes leaves me feeling like the odd one out. Being tenacious means that regardless of any challenges I face or setbacks I must deal with, I am determined to stick to my path because I believe that advertising can be meaningful and powerful enough to create an impact and that I am capable of being in and thriving within this field.
What are you passionate about?
I really stand by the power of diversity and representation within the field of communications. A mentor once told me that marketing and advertising often serve as mirrors to society. What we choose to advertise and communicate often reflects our image of society and the people that we speak to. Knowing this, I don’t believe that advertising has reached its true potential, as many minorities of different backgrounds and perspectives are not spoken to or celebrated. Advertising has the ability to create and impact human culture and providing and striving for adequate representation in media and advertising benefits all parties involved. Advertisers are inherently storytellers, and it’s vital that the stories we choose to tell are inclusive of all. I’m passionate about this issue because I feel that advertising has the unique power to bring about real change in this world and I hope to help achieve this goal during my lifetime.
Who is your professional hero?
One of my professional inspirations is Anjali Sud, the current CEO of Vimeo. Sud is an Indian-American woman who became CEO of a (somewhat) failing company and spearheaded a bold repositioning of the brand to set itself apart from competitors like YouTube, and eventually, it grew enough to turn a profit and go public on Nasdaq. I love that Sud wasn’t afraid to back down from a challenge and trusted her vision for the company enough to see it through to success.
What has been your proudest moment in the past year?
I worked as a Strategy Intern at an advertising agency called Doe-Anderson this past summer through the MAIP program. It was my first time working in an actual agency and I was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. Looking back, I had nothing to worry about. My team was super welcoming and supportive, and I was given so many challenging and interesting projects to work on. Toward the end of one of my major projects, which was for a new client the agency had acquired and the first campaign the agency was creating, I received positive feedback from not only my strategy/planning team but also from the creative and account team. I felt so proud of the work I had done in that moment. It made me excited that I had found my calling and inspired me to continue creating meaningful work.
What or who has had the biggest impact on your life during your time at UGA?
My time with Talking Dog has had a huge impact on my personal and professional life during my time at UGA. I was accepted to work as a project manager when I was a sophomore and was absolutely terrified at the prospect, since I had little to no experience in advertising, let alone project management. I was totally convinced that they had accepted me on accident. However, I recognized that I had been given a great opportunity regardless and that I should take advantage of it, so I worked hard, learned so much about working on a team and with clients, and grew to be more confident and outspoken. I joined the Board of Directors the year after as the Director of Fetch during the pandemic, which presented its own set of challenges. It proved difficult to build connections with new members using only Zoom but Talking Dog cultivates an incredible and inclusive culture of support and encouragement and because of that, we were able to have an incredible year. Talking Dog gets brought up in interviews all the time because of how unique of an opportunity it is for college students, and I’m always so happy to talk about how much I learned from my experience and how much fun I had. Talking Dog is definitely a highlight of my college career!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received from an instructor, mentor or family member?
This piece of advice wasn’t given solely to me – I attended the Publicis MCTP conference in 2020 and one of the panels presented in the conference was hosted by Ronnie Dickerson-Stewart, then chief diversity officer of Publicis Group, and Minda Harts, author of The Memo. They shared that “self-advocacy is one of the greatest forms of self-love.” It becomes easy, especially in corporate America, to want to silence your voice because you might feel that you’re just grateful to be here. But, it’s important to understand that people that hire you and want to work with you will seek you out because you have talents and gifts that they want. It’s important to recognize the power you hold and be your biggest supporter in advocating for yourself.
What is your favorite app or social media channel and why?
I love Twitter! I hardly ever create my own Tweets but I love the community and expression that’s present on that platform. While the jokes on Twitter are incredible, I really like how people can share experiences, have conversations and build a broader community.
Where is your favorite place on campus and why?
North Campus is a lovely place to be, but my favorite spot is on the lawns in front of the Old College. My freshman year, I spent a ton of time just sitting on the benches and reading or doing homework. It’s beautiful in the spring and the fall, and I love to people watch there!
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