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Why Give | Impact stories

Giving back: alumnus’s book proceeds fund Computer Science scholarship

With advice from his father, entrepreneur Mik Kersten is grateful for the support and opportunities UBC has given him.

Today Computer Science alumnus Mik Kersten is the CEO of the ultra-successful tech company, Tasktop. Mik credits donor support with getting him started in his career — and now he is bringing things back full circle to today’s students.

“I had the $5,000 Rick Sample Memorial Scholarship during my undergrad at UBC, which was a huge deal for me. It really helped me finance my studies and enabled me to start my career,” says Kersten.

Mik went on to get his PhD, despite not always being convinced getting a doctorate was the way to go.

“From an investment point of view, I had read some articles on how a master’s or PhD can be a terrible idea,” he said. “But my late father, who was a professor at Concordia, kept pushing me. I didn’t really want an academic career. Still, he convinced me that the world and technology was becoming so complex. Without deeper education and knowledge, I wouldn’t be able to really push boundaries in the way I had envisioned.”

Now Mik wants to give back — using sales from a work he authored, based on the very research he developed at UBC.

“I wrote a book that was published two and a half years ago called Project to Product: How to Survive and Thrive in the Age of Digital Disruption with the Flow Framework. It’s a bestseller on Amazon, and I am donating all the author proceeds from book sales to a new UBC CS scholarship. Creating this endowment is allowing us to give back to students, and I feel that is such an important thing to do.”

Enrolling in Computer Science at UBC, Kersten now firmly believes, was the best investment he ever made. It gave him the benefit of access to the knowledge in a university department and helped him launch a new market, plus build a start-up to leverage that market.

“When you’re passionate about what you do, and you have a place like UBC Computer Science behind you, there’s no reason you can’t get your work on the world’s stage,” says Kersten.