Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children
In 1998, John Wood was a rising executive at Microsoft when he took a vacation that changed his life. What started as a trekking holiday in Nepal became a spiritual journey, and then a mission: to change the world one book and one child at a time. So upon returning from holiday, John did what most of us can only dream of doing: he walked away from millions to do "more". Over the next five years he would make the unlikely marriage between Microsoft business practices and the world of non-profits to create Room to Read, an organization that has created a network of over 2,000 schools and libraries (with over one million books) throughout communities in Southeast Asia and India. Room to Read is now one of the fastest growing, most effective, and award-winning non-profits of the last decade. The program is a three-time winner of Fast Company Magazine's Social Capitalist Award, a recipient of the Skoll Foundation Award for Social Innovation, and a recipient of Draper Richards Fellowship for social entrepreneurs.
John's career at Microsoft spanned 1991 to 1999, where he ran significant parts of Microsoft's international business, as the Director of Marketing for the Asia-Pacific Division, Director of the Internet Customer Unit for Microsoft Australia, and Director of Marketing for Microsoft Australia.
John Wood is the Founder and Board Co-Chair of Room to Read. He started Room to Read after a fast-paced and distinguished career with Microsoft from 1991 to 1999. He was in charge of marketing and business development teams throughout Asia, including serving as Director of Business Development for the Greater China region and as Director of Marketing for the Asia-Pacific region. John brings to Room to Read a vision for a scalable solution to developing global educational problems, an intense focus on results, and an ability to attract a world-class group of employees, volunteers, and funders. John focuses on long-term strategy, capital acquisition, public speaking, and media. He is a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He was the first Microsoft Alumni of the Year, awarded by Bill and Melinda Gates. John also serves on the Advisory Board of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and is a three-time CGI speaker. John holds a bachelor's degree in Finance from the University of Colorado, a master's degree from the Kellogg School of Northwestern University. He teaches at both the Harvard Graduate School of Education and NYU's Stern School of Business.