Rashad Robison

Ever since his childhood growing up in the Chicago suburb of Forest Park, Roosevelt alumni Rashad Robison was a natural problem-solver. “I’ve always had a real passion for getting things done, and establishing a process and order to chaos,” he says. “I like creating lofty goals for myself, and then figuring out how to get there. Little did I know that there was a career field based on just that!”

Robinson’s exceptional problem-solving skills have led him to his current role as a strategy & operations lead at Google, and he was recognized earlier this year at Roosevelt’s annual Alumni Awards. These awards are given to RU alumni who have exemplified the University’s social justice mission and achieved exceptional career success, and Robison has accomplished both with his work at Google and dedication to LGBTQ+ healthcare accessibility at Howard Brown Health. 

At Google, Robison collaborates with directors and VPs to create efficient processes for various tech initiatives in addition to establishing sustainable corporate goals. During his time at the tech giant, he has created a Project Management Office, established steering committees, written governance practices for innovation and built strategic roadmaps for multiple product portfolios. He also helped launch the Chicago chapter for a Google work study program that provides high school seniors with real-world work experience as they prepare for college. 

Robison’s path to the tech sector and alumni status hasn’t been linear. He initially attended RU as a political science undergraduate with the goal to enter law or politics, but after pausing his studies and establishing his first business (a hair salon in suburb of Oak Park), he began working for a company called Enova Financial. During a shift at the call center where he assisted British residents with lending products, he asked another employee with a laptop what her role was, and the answer “product manager” led to him to pursue tech management. Several coding classes later, Robison was overseeing digital product management teams at companies such as Discovery and U.S. Cellular. However, there was one goal he hadn’t accomplished.

“My grandmother was a Chicago Public School teacher for 30 years, and she would always say: ‘People can take a lot from you, but they can never take away your education.’” He says. “And before she passed away, she asked me to promise that I would go back to school and earn my degree.”

On the urging of his family and work colleagues, Robison returned to Roosevelt and completed his undergraduate degree in political science in 2021. “I’m often asked by I wanted to study political science instead of something more directly applicable to the tech field I work in, but Roosevelt instilled in me that we need to constantly work to create a society and corporate structure that works for everyone, and political science exposed me to so much theory and ways of thinking I wouldn’t have encountered otherwise.”

Roosevelt’s social justice mission is also exemplified in Robison’s volunteer work, which includes being a founding board member with Lorde, Rustin & Bates (a civic engagement, social justice and public policy organization centering the lives of traditionally marginalized communities) and serving as a board member with Howard Brown Health (a Chicago healthcare provider that specializes in care for LGBTQ+ patients). 

Robison encourages recent graduates to view their careers as fluid and required to evolve out of necessity, citing his own professional development as an example. “Working in tech, I see job requirements and positions changing all the time, and there are responsibilities that didn’t even exist when I was beginning my career,” he says. “I would encourage younger professionals to always be open to new ideas and approaches to problem-solving.” 

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