A USFSP professor is challenged in war-weary Iraq to inspire an entrepreneurial culture
Business professor Bill Jackson may have rough days when he wishes he could wear a flak jacket.
But this past summer, it became mandatory.
Jackson, who teaches at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, spent 45 days in Iraq sharing his insights with university teachers about how to encourage business startups and entrepreneurial activity. While in Baghdad, Jackson lived at one fortified compound and taught at another. His commute of less than 10 miles took 90 minutes, thanks to frequent stops at Baghdad checkpoints. Jackson routinely traveled in a three-vehicle convoy of armed security guards while wearing a flak jacket.
It wasn’t for show. Two hours before he arrived for a workshop at Baghdad University, an Iraq general was assassinated at the front gate. Other violence occurred nearby while he was in the city.
“I was naive about the Middle East,” Jackson conceded in a recent discussion about his Iraq experience.
Iraq is not poor. The country is rich with oil, holding the world’s third largest reserves.