For a while there, Rob Jordan had a pretty cushy lifestyle.
He was living in Bellingham, Wash., where he worked for an outdoor equipment company selling ankle weights for SCUBA shops.
“I was 27 years old, had a house, two cars … and I was bored,” he recalls.
Now, he’s a little more engaged — but then again, he’s working on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s initiative to promote stability in the Middle East by developing technological infrastructure in the West Bank.
“Jobs are really the answer to helping reduce strife,” says Jordan, who minored in Middle Eastern studies while working toward his master’s degree in international studies at DU’s Josef Korbel School of International Studies. “It’s very difficult for Palestinians [to engage in] commercial trade because the borders [with Israel and Jordan] are so incredibly tight. When you have poor people, especially poor young men, you end up with angry, desperate people. Desperate people do desperate things.”
And, despite his early beginnings, Jordan has seen his share of desperate people.
It all changed for him one day when he closed a big deal with a client.
“He was going out of business,” Jordan recalls. “I sold him the ankle weights so I could make a sales quota. My boss was very proud, and I wasn’t. I was like, ‘What am I doing? I’m just making money to make money.’ So I decided to take a hiatus.”
For Jordan, that meant a few months of traveling, followed by a stint with the Peace Corps in Ukraine, where he was assigned to work with a non-governmental organization (NGO) to help grow small businesses. He even stayed on to work with the NGO for a year after his Peace Corps service because it gave him his first taste of international business development — but also his first glimpse of corruption.
“I had to bribe people for my mail,” he recalls.
So when his wife landed a job in Colorado — and he learned that the Korbel School gave scholarships to former Peace Corps volunteers — it was a done deal. He enrolled and graduated in November 2001 with a master’s degree in international studies.
Since then, he has worked for nonprofits abroad. He spent three years overhauling administrative policies for an organization in Costa Rica, where illicit activities were rampant among customers and staff. In the U.S, one of his first independent clients hired him — not for his business management expertise, but to install its computer network.
“I’d installed one network before — I figured I’d figure it out,” he says.Read the full article in DUToday about Josef Korbel School alum, Rob Jordan and his efforts with promoting stability in the Middle East by developing technological infrastructure in the West Bank.