My Media Hero: Barry Flanigan, Chief Product Officer at COPA90

We’re asking some of our industry’s leading figures to nominate their media hero and to explain what’s so special about them.

Prior to joining online media business COPA90 Barry Flanigan worked at companies including The Telegraph, AOL and Fox Interactive Media.

Who is your Media Hero?

Coming from a tech background myself I’d like to choose someone who embodies the positive impact that digital technology can have on our evolving media industry. Professor Sue Black OBE, Professor of Computer Science at Durham University, government strategic advisor and technology evangelist. 

Why do they deserve hero status?

She’s a truly inspirational technologist, radical thinker, passionate social entrepreneur and author.  As a communicator, she’s incredible.

Too often in our industry people hide behind jargon or tech babble but Sue is able to communicate complex ideas to a broad audience in a human and emotionally intelligent way. Her own personal story is inspiring, having achieved so much the hard way while continuing to be a decent human being. 

How has their heroism helped drive the media industry?

The futures of the media industry and the technology sector are intertwined, and Sue is at the forefront of driving forward the latter. She evangelises about the power of technology and education to change our lives and our society through digital skills, social media and general tech savviness.

Her campaigning skills are formidable – she famously led the campaign to save Bletchley Park and founded BCSWomen, an online network for women in tech, along with #techmums, a social enterprise that offers mothers free courses to build up their technology skills. 

She was an early advocate of using social media for campaigning in a smart and sophisticated way, leveraging platforms like Twitter to communicate in an accessible manner and drive change.

She inspires. When you hear her speak it motivates you to make a difference yourself to your own industry, company or community. We need more people like that. 

What are the biggest challenges in the media industry we need another hero to solve?

Continuing to do everything we can to champion diversity and drive equality – kids should be encouraged to come into the media & tech industries believing they can achieve anything regardless of background, personality type, gender, colour. 

What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in media?

Being part of the team that has helped to take COPA90 from humble beginnings as a YouTube channel seven years ago to a global media business reaching hundreds of millions of fans worldwide.

We tell the stories of football culture that truly matter to fans around the globe, celebrating diversity through the universal language of football. As a fan myself (Celtic FC through and through) there’s nothing better than doing something for a living that I genuinely feel passionate about on a personal level. 

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