You’ve heard all the statistics, the typical younger worker will have x amount of jobs in their lifetime, unlike our parents’ and grandparents’ careers working 45 years at one company. Dr. Glenn Rodriguez has had a multifaceted career and he will tell you that education has prepared him for each career move. Here is what he shared with the Young Professionals of Hardin County this spring.
Rodriguez teaches Marketing at McKendree University in Louisville, where he formerly served as Dean. He is a man of action when he speaks, (sorry for the blurry photos). Born and raised in Puerto Rico, he is the son of Emilio Rodriguez, an orphan. This is pertinent because his father’s experience in the orphanage helped shape the journey for Glenn’s life.
As he tells it, the man at the orphanage who would teach the boys a trade had died, so his father learned to play the trumpet. After enlisting in the US Army, his father started the Army’s first Hispanic band. He experienced being paid less because expectations of Hispanics were lower. This laid the course for determined hard work and the pursuit of excellence. The military took them out of Puerto Rico. Father felt it important and valuable for his family to not live on base, to absorb whatever culture they inhabited. Rodriguez attended school in France, and still speaks the language, making three that he speaks. After returning to Puerto Rico, Glenn saw the draft coming and enrolled in ROTC courses in high school, (first of many proactive educational steps), and later entered the Army. Glenn earned his BS in in Industrial Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico.
After his time in the army and finishing his degree, he took a job with Union Carbide, taking him to West Virginia, where he worked for 21 years and started his family. He recognized early on that higher education lead to higher income in the corporate world and he earned an MBA from Marshall University. Fast forward to the disaster at Bhopal, India. In the wake of this tragedy, Union Carbide downsized, leaving Glenn to find a new career. He tried outside sales and “HATED it”.
His extensive experience, education, and bilingualism set him up for international work. Rodriguez was sent to Mexico to train on hazardous chemicals in the dawn of NAFTA. Eventually Papa John’s came calling. He would become the first hispanic in the International Division, but not before the mandatory hands on training, learning to make pizzas and restaurant operations. The eight week training took him 13. Let’s say he was going for perfection.
In September of 2001, he was working in Costa Rica. Wanting to return to the U.S. immediately after the September 11th attacks, it took them several days to get back. This event caused Glenn to evaluate his priorities. He resigned from Papa Johns, halting worklife after 30 years, not knowing his next career move, leaving 120k per year for zero dollars. But he had decided to pursue a PhD. in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development at the University of Louisville for which he wrote his dissertation on business faculty recruitment. This educational achievement and expertise set him up for his leadership position at McKendree University in 2005.
- Community involvement
These are Dr. Rodriguez’s pillars of excellent leadership. Regarding the last point, at age 46, the good Dr. signed on with the local volunteer fire department along with two other men, one 22, the other 18. He is on call to assist with Spanish speaking people in emergencies. He considers this his most important job.