Meet the Women in Tech: Digital comms expert Maral Kalajian

As part of our Women in Tech series, SI News introduces you to inspiring women on the tech scene. This week, we meet head of marketing and communications at Watty, Maral Kalajian.

Meet the Women in Tech: Digital comms expert Maral Kalajian
Maral on Kungstädgården in Stockholm.

“I always admired Sweden when it came to human rights, it was always very equal. Stockholm has always been a place I've looked up to,” Maral told SI News when asked about her decision to move to Sweden to study over 11 years ago.

After she finished her master’s at KTH, she worked for the university for a couple of years before pursuing a career in Digital Marketing. Since March 2017, she has been working as the Head of Marketing and Communications at Swedish energy management company Watty.

Watty’s aim is to fight climate change and create a more sustainable society. The office is based in Stockholm and is made up of 20 people who are dedicated to making tools that help people find out the energy they use in their home from an app that runs in real time.

“The mission is that we talk about climate change everything thinks its transportation or industry whereas 20 percent of the carbon waste actually comes from houses and buildings. We don’t know what we are doing with energy in our homes because the only way we find out is the energy bill that we get once a month or every three months,” says Maral.

Not only is she working to help consumers and citizens make a ‘greener’ world, since 2013 she has also been a co-founder of Peppy Pals, a company developing fun and educational apps and books that nurture the Social & Emotional Intelligence of children aged 2-8 years old.

If she doesn’t sound busy enough, Maral is also the Co-organizer and Moderator of FemTech at SUP46, a Silicon Valley-founded startup hub which helps teams quickly developing their businesses. SUP46 also focuses on enhancing the number of women in tech by giving support and offering a diverse range of opportunities.

“We bring in the community and different people to praise our heroes, anyone from founders/community builders/any good representatives for the ecosystem,” says Maral enthusiastically about the startup hub.

FemTech was launched in 2012 to reach students who are interested in feminist-technology and -science research. “We have four events a year,” explains Maral, adding they “bring in women from different backgrounds, highlighting positive stories of why you should be a woman in tech”.

It’s Maral’s entrepreneurial spirit that led to her current job at Watty.

While working at STING, an accelerator and incubator in Stockholm, she was snapped up by founder Hjalmar Nilsonne who offered her a job. Her passion for both the product and Sweden shine through when she explains that Stockholm is by far the best place in the world for an innovative product like this to grow.

“When the founder had the idea, he was in London, but he flew back because Stockholm has the smartest meters already in place, so it was simpler to start it here.” Swedes, she says, are “hungry for technologies and innovations so it’s the best place to start a business like ours”.  

However, Stockholm is just the starting point for Watty.

If the product gains popularity here in Sweden, it will be adopted all over the world. Indeed, on their website everyone, regardless the locations, can subscribe to receive newsletters about when the Watty team will be able to install its energy saving tool outside the Swedish capital.

If this happens it will not only be “a dream come true” for Maral and the Watty team, but consumers could also become more aware of their spending and their personal impact on the environment.  



Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

Ronoh Philip, who is studying for his masters degree in Infectious Disease Control at Södertörn University, explains why he thinks the Swedish concept of 'lagom' is the best way to achieve good social health.

Lagom: The best way to achieve social health?

During my one week orientation program on August 2019 at Södertörn University, we were presented with many aspects of Swedish culture and practices. One of the new aspects that I learnt was the “lagom culture”, As I quote one of the presenters about applying lagom to our studies, he said: ”Lagom will reduce your stressful burdens of hectic lecture schedules and ensure that you spend equal time of working and socializing in the university.”

So being a student with a background in public health and society, I got interested and searched for the deeper meaning of lagom, and how it can  apply to society and health. I found out that it is a Swedish way of life, it is a concept which means not too much and not too little, just enough. I learnt that it came from a Viking tradition laget om which means 'around the group' and was allegedly used to describe just how much mead or soup one should drink when passing the bowl around in the group.

If this concept is applied to achieve social health goals, it would really fit well. So, what is social health at first? Social health is how you interact with other people and adapt in different situations, it deals with how people in society deal with each other. It is important to note that there is a close link between good social health and improvement of the other aspects of human health, this can lead to the achievement of SDG goal of good health and wellbeing. It also leads to self-satisfaction and happiness; no wonder Sweden is ranked as one the happiest countries in the world. It is ranked 7th in 2019, according to world happiness report. I believe lagom has a big role in this achievement.

In the country where I come from, Kenya, one of the greatest challenges we face in our society, is the ability for people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds to interact and form positive and cohesive relationships with each other. From my perspective, when I finish my studies and return, lagom will be worth implementing in the workplace, the place where I live and the society as whole, as it is the best way of finding simple, attainable solutions to our everyday worries like stress, eating better, having downtime and achieving happiness. It’s a balance of work and life, so everything is in sustainable existence with each other.

My goal during my entire university studies at Södertörn, will be to learn more about the lagom principle and also be able to apply it on our SI NFGL Local Network platform, because it is surely one of the best ways to achieve a good  work-life balance, reaching consensus with my colleagues and adapting a team minded approach in dealing with issues in an organization and the society.