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Working toward sustainability: Dale Hobson’s mission to take risks

Dale Hobson | IE Business School International MBA 50th Class

Dale Hobson works in an industry that infuses all aspects of our lives, from the beverages we drink to the perfume we wear and the candles we burn.

Originally from Australia, but now based in the US, Dale formally trained in materials engineering. He later decided to further his studies first through a NASA aerospace research program, and then IE Business School’s International MBA. He was attracted to IE Business School for its focus on both entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship, and the fact that they offered accelerated programs in a global environment.

Throughout the course of his career, he’s worked in nanotechnology, corporate development and strategy consulting.

In his current role as Global Vice President, Strategic Materials & Procurement Strategy for Symrise AG—an innovative flavor and fragrance house—Dale deals with over 10,000 materials from around the world. In his day-to-day life, he’s responsible for finding natural and synthetic materials for the entire supply chain, while making sure they come from communities that are both ethical and sustainable.

Dale’s commitment to sustainability goes hand in hand with Symrise AG’s mission. For well over a century, the company has focused on creating fragrances out of natural materials and working closely with local communities.

Another unique corporate sustainability initiative that fuels Dale’s work is the organization’s creative financing plan. After refinancing their company, Symrise AG configured their interest rates to change in correlation to their sustainability efforts. That is, when they invest in local communities—such as Madagascar, one of the largest producers of vanilla—and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, their interest rates go down.

Dale’s role at Symrise AG combines his love for travel with his goal of creating transparency in the fragrance industry. One day he’s in the Amazon searching for a new flower, and then next he’s somewhere in Africa looking for cedar wood. It is a job that Dale describes as fun, yet very complex.

Reflecting on his career as a whole, Dale takes pride in the work he’s done developing solid business strategies for companies both past and present. For example, before joining the Symrise AG team, Dale worked for a family owned company in the United States called Milliken & Company where he helped grow their silicone business and bolster their internal product development. Similarly, in his role at Symrise AG, he has been helping the company redevelop their cosmetics footprint, catering to an audience that relishes unique and individualized products.

When it comes to personal development and success, Dale highlights the importance of constantly challenging yourself, and also asking the right questions.

“It’s very easy to get comfortable, but I’d recommend not to get too comfortable, and instead, look for ways to challenge yourself at least every two years. It doesn’t need to be only with work, it could be learning a new instrument or picking up a new hobby. In any regard, you need to be constantly building and growing.”

Reflecting on his time at IE Business School, Dale says one of the greatest opportunities was the ability to learn from both the renowned professors and faculty—such as his mentor Joseph Pistrui—as well as the peers he was surrounded with.

“At IE Business School, I learned as much from my peers sitting next to me as I did from the great professors standing in front of me. I myself had been a materials engineer for a number of years, and I found myself sitting next to a banker and a consumer goods specialist. We learned so much from each other, big and small. Something that will always stand out in my memories was the camaraderie. Prior to that, I’d never had that type of experience on that level.”

One of the best pieces of advice Dale can offer to others is to get out and see the world—which coincides with his urging to move forward and avoid getting stuck in ruts.

“Go experience things. When I first arrived in Madrid to start my masters, I was young, I was alone, and I was certainly nervous. But I did it, and it was one of the best things that I’ve ever done. Simply put, my advice is to get out there, try new things and see how they work out.”

To celebrate the 50th intake of the International MBA at IE Business School, we’re sharing stories from our impressive alumni. This impactful leader is just one of the stand-out International MBA alumni who have passed through the doors of IE Business School. To read even more inspiring stories from graduates of the International MBA, and to learn more about the program, click here.