Careers: Interviews
Michael Furdyk, Co-founder, Leading Serial Entrepreneur, and Innovator

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, FCIPS, I.S.P. has an exclusive interview with Michael Furdyk.

Michael FurdykMichael Furdyk is the Co-founder and Director of Technology for, a global online community for young people, engaging hundreds of thousands of youth in over 200 countries and territories. Along with managing the technology team at TakingITGlobal, Michael is involved with the TIGed education program, and has spoken to over 50,000 educators about the importance of engaging students and integrating technology and global perspectives into the classroom.

In the past, he has turned his interest in technology into a series of successful online companies, co-founding (later sold to and (which raised $4.5-million of venture capital). Over the last few years, Michael has consulted for many Fortune 500 companies, including a 6-month engagement developing youth strategy with Microsoft in Seattle, Washington.

As one of Teen People's "20 teens that will change the world", Michael has shared his opinions about Youth Engagement and experiences as a member of the Net Generation by speaking at dozens of events, including the World Congress on IT, the US Government's National Youth Summit, Microsoft's Anytime, Anywhere Learning Summits, The Business Council, and TED. He has made numerous media appearances including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Time Magazine, Fast Company, BusinessWeek, CNN, MSNBC, and USA Today. He is a board member and advisor to numerous groups including Microsoft, Pollution Probe, the Anytime, Anywhere Learning Foundation, and several other national and global organizations.

To listen to the interview, click on this MP3 file link

The latest blog on the interview can be found in the IT Managers Connection (IMC) forum where you can provide your comments in an interactive dialogue.


Interview Time Index (MM:SS) and Topic

00:34: Can you share with us your prior successes and the key lessons learned from each?
"....I've learned a lot from prior experiences and I am now applying all that knowledge and experience to the non-profit sector and creating a really innovative charity that takes advantage of technology and this interactive world we live in...."

02:37: That's one of the reasons that you conceived What do you hope to achieve? Can you profile its history?
" is really for a social network for social good. The idea is to apply a lot of the online community principles that young people find so intriguing and so exciting, into a space which actually highlights and emphasizes and encourages people to get involved into the major global issues facing the world today...."

04:15 You have a connection to Gen Y - can you elaborate further on this group?
"......It's really my peers and people two years younger who have grown up really taking for granted what previous generations thought were so amazing. We take the computer and technology mostly for granted.....But really for us the innovation that we have really latched onto is the internet...."

05:32: How do corporations, businesses, and organizations engage with Gen Y? How do you ensure you are connecting with that large demographic? How big is this demographic?
"...In the US it is the biggest generation ever and in Canada it is slightly smaller but it is very close to the baby boomers.......It is obviously critically important to engage with them as a consumer...Unlike previous generations, because of the influence they have through user created contact through the internet, they can actually influence or prevent a large amount of purchasing power......"

07:17: There are different sectors in the market place such as government, industry, education, media, consumer trends etc. How do you see this demographic impacting these sectors?
"...I think education is one of the ones which is really critical.......'it's bridging the gap between how students live and how students learn'......"

08:57: If I were a IT or business manager, what are some of the key things I can implement to ensure that they (this demographic) are performing, delivering, and engaging with my organization and goals?
"The main thing I would try to emphasize is co-creating and making sure that they feel ownership over those goals with you from the beginning. So instead of giving them arbitrary deadlines or goals, involve them in the process of actually understanding the strategy, the vision and why those goals might be important and have them develop them with you....."

09:55: Your organization, has participation with many countries in the world so you have your pulse on what's happening worldwide. How do you see this youth bulge building out in different regions? What are the differences and their implications?
"......but more than half the world's population.....are young people and really they represent a huge number of active, interested, and potentially highly engaged consumers, partners, employees that exist. We have an unprecedented opportunity (with the way technology has been providing) all these collaboration chances to really engage and collaborate with them...."

12:01: Can you share with us some current projects that would be of interest to our business and technology audience?
"...One of our biggest focuses right now is the localization of our tools and our technology ..... Another is the challenge of social networking in schools...."

14:43: You have an amazing history. Do you have a story you can share with us from your work?
"...One of the big things we are able to do (and over the last few years) is really organize and leverage our network around the world to give young people a meaningful opportunity to contribute to global policy on information technology...."

16:40: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? How do you think the world will look in 10 years?
"....I think that the non-profit sector will explode in the next five or ten years given all the focus that has been put on it with all the technology and innovations and things. I think this is where I'll be for a long time to come.... "

18:39: Can you leave us with commentary on a topic of your choosing?
"...Digital divide - a topic which is close to heart for us. We actually operate a website called think that it is really important to make sure that we (as developed countries and the technology industry) is to not just send computers blindly but to actually set up initiatives and look at ways to make sure that people actually have the relevant context and content to make use of that technology to really improve their lives and improve their society....."


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