Using Business to Make a Better World
By Liz Warren-Pederson
Tucson is a far cry from Robert Dawson’snative Brooklyn, but the second-year MBA made an even bigger cultural and geographic leap when he began the program last year.
“Before coming to Tucson, I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Panama,” he said. “The transition from Peace Corps to life back in the U.S. to living in a part of the country I had never visited before has been an interesting experience!”
Dawson said that before college, he attended a liberal high school at a time when globalization was a buzz word that some considered synonymous with imperialism. “To become more informed, I majored in economics and international studies at Boston College,” he said. He studied abroad in Madrid, where he not only honed his Spanish language skills, but also discovered a passion for travel and languages.
“I went on to study Italian my senior year and taught English in Italy for a summer after graduation,” he said. “After four years of academia and international travel, I came to believe that business growth and capitalism are the best channels to stimulate economic growth and improve the quality of life for the world’s poorest people.”
It was then that he joined the Peace Corps. Dawson was stationed in Panama, where he lived in a rural community of 5,000 people, working entirely in Spanish to create turn-key business and community projects from planning, design, and analysis stages through implementation.
“It was a great experience that confirmed my beliefs about the important role large corporations play in supporting development work,” he said. After finishing his service, he decided to return to school for an MBA to be more competitive in the job market. “I chose the Eller MBA because of the Peace Corps Paul D. Coverdell Fellows Program, which provides generous scholarships for former volunteers,” he said. “And having served in Panama, I also knew I liked warm weather. Finally, given the current political climate in Arizona and attention from national media, I thought living in Tucson, less than 60 miles from the border, would be a valuable learning experience.”
As part of his Peace Corps fellowship program, Dawson is also working with a nonprofit organization in Nogales as an AmeriCorps volunteer. This summer, he is completing a brand management internship with the Dial Corporation.
“Ultimately, my career goal is to work for a large corporation to help select, develop, and/or market its corporate responsibility efforts and charitable initiatives,” he said. Dawson is president of the UA chapter of Net Impact, an international organization that aims to use the power of business to create a more socially and environmentally sustainable world.