July 13 is “Embrace Your Geekness Day,” and who knew! In honor of the holiday, we wanted to introduce you to some of our favorite staff geeks, who assured us that geek is the new chic.

Tak Fujii, Vice President of Information Technology at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network

Tak Fujii, Vice President of Information Technology at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

First up, we sat down with Tak Fujii, Vice President of Information Technology at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, to get a few burning questions answered. Tak recently won a prestigious award from the Los Angeles Business Journal – he was named the 2016 Chief Information Officer of the Year for Small Nonprofits. So yeah, we’re pretty proud of this guy.

Tak, tell our friends what you do here at the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

My job is to bring the best in technology to our organization to help us grow and make us more efficient. Those are really the paramount drivers of my job.

What is your very favorite part of your job?

When the technology makes an impact and the staff benefits. For example, just last month my team brought a new video conferencing system into the office here in Manhattan Beach. It’s a cloud-based, cost-effective system that allows us to collaborate much more closely with our DC office. Both teams will benefit. 

Have you been into technology your entire life?

Yes, since I was a kid. My dad bought me an electronics kit for Christmas when I was about 7 or 8. I would spend hours soldering and putting parts together. I was always interested in making things work.

Is “geek” really the new chic?

Yes, definitely! These days, everything we utilize on a daily basis – our mobile phones, tablets, laptops, Wi-Fi – everything is supported by some sort of technology and the industry is only going to get bigger. Tech is where it’s at right now! I’m very fortunate that I got into this career.

Do you think that every one of us has an inner-geek?

I do! Even on the most basic of levels, people ‘geek out’ over Facebook, their phones, their apps.

What advice do you have for how we can get more in touch with our inner geek?

It’s really about perspective. Take it upon yourself to learn more about whatever you have an interest in – I’ll speak to technology here. Say you enjoy streaming music or TV content – take the next step and learn more about how it works. The internet makes it easy to self-teach.

How did you feel when you learned there was a special day to publicly embrace your geekiness?

I thought it was great. I had never heard such a thing!

Any special plans to celebrate the day?

Not yet, but I will think of something.

What is your favorite at-home AND at-work activity that feeds your inner-geek?

My inner-geek gets fed 24-7 because IT people never stop working! I would say the best opportunity I have to nurture my geekiness is to go to conferences where I can hear about latest trends and see how other companies are utilizing technology. Everything changes so rapidly, which is fun. It means I can always provide new options and business solutions.

Apple or Microsoft?

I guess you could say I’m non-committal on this topic. I’m not married to any one technology. I try to pick whatever is best for our organization and find the best option for each situation. That’s the beautiful thing about technology. You can embrace anything.   

What would you say to people who say that “geek” is a four-letter word?

That was probably true 20 years ago, but it’s not the norm anymore. Geeks are cool.

Stay tuned for another staff profile in honor of “Embrace Your Geekness Day,” coming soon!