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40 Under 40 winner of the day: David Pearson

Business

After working for numerous high profile politicians, David Pearson wanted to solve South Australia’s most pressing social problems on a grassroots level.

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David Pearson is the executive director and CEO of the Don Dunstan Foundation.

The foundation was established in 1999 and aims to meet social needs in South Australia through research, policy and projects.

These projects include the Adelaide Zero Project, which works to end homelessness in the inner city, and the Thinkers in Residence program, which brings world-leading experts to South Australia to address urgent social challenges.

Pearson has led the Don Dunstan Foundation for almost three years.

While his duties encompass social policy, Pearson also manages the finances of the company, which includes fundraising and event management.

However, he worked many years in public policy before entering this role.

While completing a Bachelor of International Studies and Bachelor of Media at the University of Adelaide – for which he earned first class honours in politics and public policy – Pearson was employed as an adviser for the office of Senator Penny Wong.

He then became a policy adviser for the then Premier of South Australia in 2009, Mike Rann, before becoming a senior adviser for the office of Minister for Health and Ageing, Mark Butler.

In 2012, Pearson landed a similar senior adviser role under Rann’s successor as Premier, Jay Weatherill, for whom he worked for almost five years.

In 2016, Pearson took the helm of the Don Dunstan Foundation.

At the foundation, Pearson pursues his passion for social justice while also building on the legacy of another former Premier, the late Don Dunstan.

This month, he was named in InDaily’s 40 Under 40, which recognises the best and brightest young business people in South Australia.

What is the single most important lesson you have learnt in your business career so far?

Expect the unexpected.

What do you believe are the strengths of doing business in South Australia?

There is definitely a strong culture of collaboration and a desire to balance doing well and doing good!

What do you believe are the weak points of conducting business in South Australia?

Access to finance for ventures seeking to create jobs but also address pressing social and environmental issues.

Do you see your future in South Australia?

Yes. We have a lifestyle which is the envy of the world, we have the world’s best festivals, knowledge in our universities and social innovators – the challenge is broadening out our approach to economic development to creates the kind of jobs that young people want to stay in SA for.

How can the state encourage more of its young leaders to stay?

Re-double our efforts to support innovation in SA – economically, socially and environmentally.

This generation of young leaders, more than any before it, want a sense of purpose in what they do, where they live, work, consume and invest. We need to provide these opportunities by ending the siloing of our efforts to address social, environmental and economic problems. They are all linked and increasingly so.

To see the full list of 40 winners go here.

InDaily is profiling each of the winners – go here to read more.

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InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to become an InDaily supporter.

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