Martin William Rodgers
Managing Director, Accenture
WHAT I’VE LEARNED
My pop taught me that life is about service and caring for people. He was an old school family doctor, focused on serving the poor in our community. I remember seeing him at work caring for a presumably homeless man who came into the office. He took the man’s tattered suit coat and, removing his own, hung it up and treated it as though it was the very best Brooks Brothers or Nordstrom’s suit offered. I aspire to bring to my clients that same passion to serve, to see people and not just problems, to respect and to walk humbly with everyone, and to be fully present.
I often say that I came to Washington DC to work for my heroes and sheroes (to borrow a term from Dr. Johnetta Cole) and I was honored to work for two amazing leaders: Dr. Marian Wright Edelman and Senator Harris Wofford. Both are legends of the civil rights movement having worked with the Kennedys and Martin and Medgar and they have dedicated their whole lives to social justice, to education and children…to the idea that people – especially young people –can change the world. They have been a part of the Struggle and been fighting for ideas and for ideals for over 40 years.
These inspiring individuals have taught me that who gets credit doesn’t matter, that the Struggle is hard but necessary, and that in the end (as Martin King paraphrased Theodore Parker) “the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.” So, in both small and big ways, I hope to “bend the arc” and be part of the Struggle: From helping to create Americorps to working to turn the MLK, Jr. Day into a National Day of Service. From serving the poor on Native American reservations and in inner-cities to serving on nonprofit boards, to helping large, nonprofit enterprises become high-performers and to advancing inclusion and diversity and corporate citizenship at Accenture and beyond.
I INSPIRE OTHERS
By being myself. By being committed to the people I mentor and motivate and to the ideas and ideals that inspire me. By believing – without question – in the ability and responsibility of each of us to create positive change for our families, for our clients, for our communities and throughout the world..
BEST CAREER ADVICE
- Be yourself – The best leaders know who they are and whose they are and, because they know from whence they come, they know where they are going.
- Be curious; keep learning – If you aren’t learning you are dying. Follow the question where it leads.
- And finally, remember you stand on the shoulders of giants and greatness is expected of you whether your career is in business, nonprofit or government. We are all blessed with opportunity and talent and that brings a responsibility to serve and give back just as Dubois challenged the “Talented Tenth” and as McLeod-Bethune suggested that “we must lift as we climb.”
WHAT I’M READING
The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson
COMMUNITY AND LEGACY
One of the biggest challenges I see in the African-American community is, without hesitation, education and skills development. This is the greatest issue facing our community and, in turn, our country. Our ability to be competitive and relevant in the global economy, to fight poverty, and to preserve the American dream depend upon it.
HOW I GIVE BACK
At Accenture, I lead our African-American Employee Resource Group nationally – as well as locally in DC – and I help lead our inclusion and diversity efforts in the US as well as globally in our Health & Public Service group. So I am engaged in the recruiting, coaching and mentoring and retaining of the next generation of leaders at Accenture. I speak publicly on inclusion and diversity, minority self-development, corporate citizenship, national and community service, and leadership to Accenture and external audiences.
Additionally, I give my time to nonprofit organizations and higher education groups which serve youth, in particular children of color.
- 20 years ago, I wrote the original business plan for the Black Community Crusade for Children and Freedom Schools efforts at the Children’s Defense Fund and I’m still engaged with them today.
- After my pop passed, our family – everyone from my Mom, to the kids and grandkids – each gave according to our means to create a scholarship fund for African-American pre-med students at Notre Dame…the place where he went to school and loved so much.
Finally, I give back by raising with my wife, three amazing African-American kids, and I try as best I can – falling short on some occasions – to model being a father and a husband.
University of Notre Dame, Bachelor of Arts; Harvard University, Masters of Business Administration