Bob Hornsby ’87 Leads in International Service, Development
Posted April 19, 2012
From his service in the Peace Corps after college to his career and involvement on nonprofit boards, Bob Hornsby’s life’s work emphasizes intercultural communication, sustainable international development, and local civic engagement.
Bob graduated with the class of 1987 after spending two years at Webb. He remembers being a somewhat mischievous student, and he is especially grateful for the influence of faculty members L.R. and Moira Smith, Sandy Truitt, Brian Crockett, and the late Col. Bill Miller; as well as librarian Sandy Sanders and director of Studies Tim Graham.
After Webb, Hornsby went on to Davidson College in North Carolina, where he was a member of the Honor Council and Vice President of the Student Union. During his junior year, Hornsby spent a semester in India on an exchange with Madras Christian College studying the history, culture, and politics of India. “It was a turning point,” he said. “That experience in India flipped a switch and turned on my passion for development economics. My interest in the Peace Corps began then.”
Hornsby graduated from Davidson with a B.A. in Economics in 1991. After some adventuring in Alaska as a crab fisherman, and a year teaching in Japan, he entered the Peace Corps and served in Côte d'Ivoire from 1993 to 1995, where he had a chance to revive the French that Madame Smith had taught him at Webb. Returning to the US, Hornsby taught International Communication, Global Issues, and East Asian Economics, and helped coordinate the International Studies Magnet Program for two years in the Atlanta Public School System. During this time he became interested in graduate school programs which emphasized joint studies in business and international affairs. In 2000 he completed a M.A. in International Economics and African Studies from The Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and a M.B.A. emphasizing finance and entrepreneurial management from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School.
In 2000 Hornsby co-founded and led a technology venture, Slingshot Solutions, with two of his Wharton classmates. It was a time of “great learning and character-building,” he recalls; the “dot-com” collapse and events of September 11 (2001) caused major business turbulence. Hornsby and his partners exited the business in 2004, retaining in an ongoing partnership the intellectual property rights for the technology they developed together.
Hornsby’s next career move allowed him to use his education and professional experiences to advise developing nations on USAID and ADB-funded strategic communication campaigns. He then founded his current business JOBOMAX, which focuses on sustainable trade and investment, primarily between the US and Africa.
Giving back locally is also important to Hornsby. “For a long time I’ve made a point of local community engagement,” he said. “It’s an important part of what I try to do outside of purely professional work.” His involvement in the community has included board leadership roles at his church, neighborhood civic association, and local arts and education organizations. Hornsby also serves on the board the United Nations Association of Greater Philadelphia, and the US-Guinea Chamber of Commerce.
Remembering his time at Webb and thinking of current issues in global education, Hornsby highlights the Honor Code and student Declamations and public performances as important traditions that make Webb special. “When you talk about educating future leaders, and educating the whole person, it is certainly worthwhile to focus on instilling a level of comfort when speaking publicly and persuading others.”
He feels that the influence of Webb’s honor code helped to shape his future direction in communication and civic engagement. “The Honor Code at Webb was a meaningful presence,” said Hornsby. “That underlying message about how you communicate with people and are responsible to your community is very important.”