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About Mike Feerick

Founder and CEO of Alison, Mike Feerick, believes in the power of learning and its ability to change lives and promote progress across all sectors of global society.

Born in the USA, later moving to the West of Ireland, Mike grew up in a family that encouraged public service. This laid a solid foundation for Mike who, as a bright student, followed on from graduation at the University of Limerick to complete an MBA at Harvard University in 1994.

In his early career, and with the support of close friend and mentor, Chuck Feeney, an Irish-American business philanthropist, Mike developed a passion for social entrepreneurship in the field of education.

It was in 2005 that Mike first conceived of the idea that education and skills training could be made free online through the use of advertising and a combination of free and paid (premium) services. “I knew that if we were going to enable the masses to access free education and skills training for the workplace, at every level, for anyone anywhere, in any language, we would have to build a business model that was self-funding and hugely scalable. I realised that the change necessary in education was not possible through philanthropy and charity alone.

My view was that education underpins all social progress, and by revolutionizing access to education, we would not just personally empower what might one day be billions of people, but that through education, we could address some of the world’s greatest problems, from physical poverty, to political instability, to climate change. It was a worthy calling, if even we could only make a part contribution to the effort needed. “That realisation made the Alison project, and its mission, something very exciting” he says

Mike then set about altering the enterprise model of a paid online learning business (focused on IT desktop training) called Advance Learning, transitioning it into the dynamic free online learning platform that Alison.com is today.

“When I launched Alison in 2007, I had a vision that it would someday become one of the world’s largest websites; that in time we would see it educating anyone, anywhere, in any subject, at every level, in any language … for free! - but the vision went further than that. If we could integrate free publishing, we could start a huge unprecedented transfer of knowledge and skill across the world, and free psychometrics for everyone could empower many with greater self-awareness and eventually, confidence in themselves.

“I strongly believed that, with free education and work-based learning, we could promote social progress and provide access to valuable skills; skills that could elevate anyone and help build purpose in everyday life” he says, identifying the 'sustainable' manner of Alison's operating model as the unique and critical tenet behind its success to date.

Today Mike is responsible for strategically defining and leading the Alison organisation, enabling it to be a driving force for universal, quality workplace-focused learning and empowerment for all, leaving no one behind.

The social aspect of work continues to be a personal source of motivation for Mike, who aligns Alison’s overarching goal to the vision of a world of free education within the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26 ‘Education shall be free’.

“I’ve seen first hand the difference Alison’s powerful free online learning platform can make in the lives of people,” he says.

“Alison is harnessing technology and open-source learning to help upskill billions of people who need and value education, knowledge building, collaboration and real-world problem-solving skills.”

Mike has received several awards for social entrepreneurship through his numerous philanthropic endeavours. He is an Ashoka Fellow and travels worldwide as an invited speaker on both Alison and his innovative approaches to improving global access to free education. In 2018, he was a speaker at the Forbes CIO Summit.

Mike remains grateful for the chance, as part of the Alison team, which now spans 27 countries, to make a difference - and to build confidence in as many people as possible to empower them to keep learning.

“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.” Aristotle

Mike Feerick Mike Feerick

Awards

Mike is an internationally recognised and award-winning social entrepreneur. Among his Awards are:

  • Award Ashoka Fellowship 2010
  • Award The UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa ICT in Education innovation Diploma Award 2010
  • Award Arthur Guinness Social Fund Award Winner 2012
  • Award WISE Award, 2013, (Qatar Foundation)
  • Award Runner up in the World Economic Forum Social Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2016
Mike Feerick Mike Feerick
“Education underpins all social progress. If we can improve the general education level worldwide, global poverty can be dealt with profoundly and our general standard of living vastly improved.”

- Mike Feerick

CEO Alison

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