How the Peace Corps Trains Business Leaders


National Peace Corps Association lists top former volunteers who are now heading a few of the world’s largest companies

Washington, D.C. Some of today’s top business leaders got their start as Peace Corps volunteers, according to a new list compiled by the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA), the nation’s leading 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supporting Returned Peace Corps Volunteers and the Peace Corps community.

“The Peace Corps means business,” said Kevin Quigley, president of the National Peace Corps Association and a former volunteer in Thailand. “Volunteers have to be self-sufficient and resourceful, work successfully across cultural boundaries and inspire others to join their cause. Those are all the hallmarks of a successful business leader as well.”

NPCA recently compiled a list of some of the former volunteers who have gone on to successful careers in the world of business:

• Tim McCollum and Brett Beach, founders of Madécasse (Madagascar 99-01).

• Edward Dolby, director, Family Dollar Stores, Inc. (India 1966-68).

• Frank Guzzetta, president of Ralph Lauren Home Collection (India 1968-72).

• Reed Hastings, founder and CEO of Netflix (Swaziland 1983-85).

• Thomas and Priscilla Wrubel, founders of the Nature Company (Liberia 1961-63).

In some cases, volunteers’ time overseas led directly to their professional careers. McCollum and Beach met while serving together in Madagascar, then went on to start a chocolate company that processes cocoa beans within the country. Madécasse was named one of 2011’s most innovative companies by Fast Company magazine.

By necessity, Peace Corps volunteers are entrepreneurial because they often work independently or in small groups in areas where there are limited resources and weak government services, forcing them to be creative and self-motivated in devising innovative solutions to problems.“There is no doubt that the Peace Corps fosters social entrepreneurs,” adds Quigley. “Figuring out how to provide a remote village with drinkable water with limited resources is a challenge that has a lot more in common with running a shoestring Internet start up than you would think.”


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