As the son of missionaries, David Bullon Patton is familiar with exploring, seeking new experiences and meeting new people. Above all, his childhood taught him the importance of service.
For the past 2 years David has served as the Director of Innovation
at the Costa Rican Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications. The Innovation Department is responsible for defining the components of public policy on innovation, seeking to boost the national economy towards knowledge-based activities. It collaborates with other support actors in the innovation system to structure and execute training and development programs focused on talented young people, applied scientists and small to medium enterprises to promote innovation projects that can contribute to the country's development.
David’s path to this role winds through the public and private sectors across continents, and reflects his openness for personal growth.
David self-deprecatingly says that when he was younger, he spent “a few delusional years aspiring to be an NBA basketball superstar and NASA astronaut” before earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Messiah College in Pennsylvania. That was followed by “an eye-opening two-year detour into the fear-oriented culture of corporate America” via a variety of manufacturing and engineering positions in the United States and Mexico, where he worked as an academic nanotechnology researcher and private sector manager of product and process innovation.
He then worked in the non-profit sector where he helped unemployed adults develop micro-enterprises (for an organization called Casas de la Esperanza); consulted on microfinance initiatives in India; and researched the effectiveness of microfinance projects in Peru.
During this time, David came to believe that working with governments might enable him to have the biggest impact. He earned a master’s degree in Public Administration from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government before returning to Costa Rica. Prior to his current position, he worked in the Ministry of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica, as Coordinator of Global Value Chains, and previously as an advisor. He also worked as a Strategic Planning Advisor of the Ministry of Trade and Industry of South Sudan.
In his current role David promotes entrepreneurship in Costa Rica and the importance of innovation based on science and technology. He says, “Inspired by the Service Space community, I have been experimenting with how to bring love and mindfulness into government, starting with my team. Most recently I've been working with a group of friends with expertise in innovation, open government and mindful leadership who, inspired by the logic of the mobius circle, are starting to co-create an organization to support public servants and catalyze transformative public service.”
Committed to creating opportunities for others through conscious, entrepreneurial leadership, David is the Director for Latin America and Global Strategy of Wisdom Together
, an organization aiming to connect and support individuals and organizations to build a global movement of collective wisdom.
David’s education and work experience blend entrepreneurship and service, technical and scientific expertise and, above all, curiosity and openness. In a presentation this year
, he described taking a long, arduous train trip from India to Nepal, getting sick and realizing that his visa had expired. An armed soldier approached, causing David to fear he might be jailed.
“My first thought was, ‘Oh! Is this somebody I should trust?’ I looked at his external appearance and thought, ‘No!’”
David soon realized he was mistaken. “This kindly gentleman offered to actually help take me across the (India/Nepal) border…As soon as we got off the train, he hired a private car and invited me in! After my initial paranoia…I realized that this was an incredibly kind and loving person…I think there’s so much tenderness and virtue, like this gentleman embodies – kindness, generosity and a heart of service.”
Join us in conversation with this innovative public servant.
Five Questions with David Bullon Patton
What Makes You Come Alive?
1-Micelio: A community of practice of innovative public servants inside and outside of government. We use acts of service, fueled by a non-sectorial culture and catalyzed by an exponential mindset to spread good practices at the intersection of open government, innovation and mindfulness throughout Latin America.2-Symbiosis: A startup that creates a space for the global design community to collaborate with indigenous peoples around the world. First, we work with indigenous artists and their communities to identify beautiful works of art and facilitate a process to capture their stories and deep meaning to the community. Then we facilitate a crowd sourcing process that gives designers around the world the opportunity to learn about indigenous communities by creating fashion items which incorporate their art, inspired by their stories. When consumers buy our clothes they include a gift for artists and their communities to contribute to development in their own terms.
Pivotal turning point in your life?
1-A health crisis: In 2010 I developed some food allergies. Before I knew what was happening, I lost my ability to think clearly and to concentrate, and my mood made me quite introverted. This shook my world. Although I did recover, there was a time when I thought my life might be this way, which was a window into exploring a different way of living. I lost my "strengths" and was nudged towards realizing that there were far more important strengths that I could start to develop (eg: emotional intelligence, introspection, empowering others)2-A work crisis: After 1 year in my current role, my leadership approach failed. One project has failed, by bosses were feeling insecure my experimental approach and I was in the process of being formally (unjustly) accused of corruption. At this time of deep despair, several opportunities presented themselves to delve into mindfulness, loving- kindness and servant leadership.
An Act of Kindness You'll Never Forget?
The compassion of this army man:http://www.servicespace.org/blog/view.php?id=20827
One Thing On Your Bucket List?
Participating in a moment of mindful silence with the Costa Rican cabinet of ministers.
One-line Message for the World?
Lean into your fears with courage and compassion and lean out with trust in others to build whatever emerges.