HAVING raised two adult children, David Dobson knows how important it is to be there for them. In fact, his advice to new dads is to take time off from work when the baby arrives. Dobson is chief technical director in the Ministry of Tourism, second in line after the influential Permanent Secretary Jennifer Griffith.
“As it relates to the new fathers, I don’t believe that a job should steal that moment, that joy, that excitement that comes with a new baby. So I believe that even though Jamaica may not be at that point where we have adopted paternity leave, I believe firmly that a new father should ensure that he gets the time off to be there with mom as soon as the baby is home — because that, for me, the support that mom gets translates to support to the child,” Dobson tells the Jamaica Observer’s LetsTravelCaribbean.com.
He has fond memories of when his 30-year-old daughter Samantha and 28-year-old son David Jr were growing up. Today they both live overseas and he sometimes shares photos from their childhood with them, a sentimental way to narrow the geographic divide. He also shares photos from his travels for work, a way to include them when he’s learning about other cultures.
“I certainly know that they really would have become deeply embedded in the tourism product had they been around at this stage,” he says.
Dobson has been the ministry’s chief technical director for the past eight years. When his children were growing up he was in health care. He uses the phrase “from hospital to hospitality” to sum up his career shift — and from the way it rolls off his tongue you can tell it’s a line he’s used before. It’s also the line he uses to make his point that there’s still hope for either or both of his children to one day work in tourism.
Like him, Samantha has a background in health care. She is a behavioural clinician and her focus is child psychology. David Jr is interested in marketing and music, even dabbling in the production side. While his younger child’s current path looks like the one more likely to lead to tourism, Dobson secretly has a dream that Samantha will be the director of tourism one day. He’s never told her though, quite content to allow her and her brother to make their own choices.
“Just the same way I would have moved from hospital to hospitality, then I have no doubt that it is quite possible that anyone can do that at any time,” said the former parish manager for the South East Regional Health Authority.
As Dobson mulls over what the future holds for his children in their professional lives, careful to strike the right balance between being supportive without direct interference, he also has his own decisions to make. With PS Griffith indicating earlier this year that she’s eyeing retirement, he is seen as her likely successor.
“I am second in command on the job but to say ‘next in line’ would be rather presumptuous in that we tend to fill all our positions transparently. I believe that at that time, this will be no exception. And, at this stage of life where I’m at, let me spend a little more time to even determine if it is something I would be interested in. It is something I would have to think about,” he says coyly.
“Mind you, I am grateful for the guidance I would have received from my PS, and the opportunities I have obtained to act and to perform in her absence. So, I would say that I am quite prepared and would be willing and equipped to take on the job but when you try to balance that with the stage of life you’re at and all of that, you wonder. The jury is still out on that,” he adds.
One job he is sure he will always be up for, though, is fatherhood.
“I don’t know why any father would not be happy, especially if they’re in tourism,” he says with a huge grin.