Meet Mark Surman of Mozilla 


Tell us about your company:

I've the executive director of a large social enterprise that aims to keep the internet open and accessible for all. We make Firefox. We also make grants and do advocacy on topics like data privacy and trustworthy AI. I run the part of the organization that does the philanthropic and advocacy parts of this work.

Tell us about your family! 

I have two sons, 19 and (almost) 22. The older one lives in Montreal, runs a non-profit creative agency that he co-founded and goes to McGill part time. The younger one is a musician and is headed to Berklee School of Music in Boston this fall. I'm separated, but am close with my ex, both as a co-parent and 'career coach' (that was a big part of our marriage). She also runs a social enterprise. We collectively have a strong sense of extended / chosen family amongst the community the kids grew up in. My ex and I just hosted a cottage weekend for 27 people, a big chunk of which were the crew of kids who have known each other forever.

What was the hardest thing about becoming a dad? *

'Becoming' a dad was easy. Figuring out how to be the right kind of dad at different points along the way has been harder, and is a life long quest.

Has being a dad impacted your career? How?

It's certainly helped me be more patient and focus on the long game. And, at points, it's helped me see my strengths and weaknesses a leader.

What's one thing you've learned from your child/ children? *

Patience. The long game. Joy. How they're all connected.

How has being a dad made you a better/ different leader? *

The places I've excelled (e.g. creating space for ambition and vision) or fallen down (e.g. soft pedaling hard conversations) as a parent usually show up in my leadership as well. Pushing myself to be a better dad has also helped me gain self awareness about places I can be a better leader.

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