SBJ/October 8-14, 2012/Game Changers

Game Changers: Marian Rhodes

Photo: JON WILLEY / ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS
Rhodes presides over an award-winning workplace
culture.
Marian Rhodes
Arizona Diamondbacks
SVP, Chief Human Resources
and Diversity Officer

Marian Rhodes and the Arizona Diamondbacks have generated an employee culture widely acclaimed as one of the very best within sports and among Arizona-based companies at large. Recognized locally as one of the Best Places to Work by the Phoenix Business Journal (a sister publication of SportsBusiness Journal) for five straight years, the D-Backs under Rhodes have created a progressive work environment frequently copied around the game. There are staff meetings structured more as late-night talk shows, complete with high-profile guests, that take full advantage of team President Derrick Hall’s outgoing demeanor; roundtable sessions between management and staff focused on developing team culture; and a staff dress code under which employees are regularly wearing apparel with team insignia.

Formerly with the St. Louis Cardinals, Rhodes also oversees Diamondbacks University, the club’s staff learning and development platform. “What we have sought very hard to do is build a culture where employees are not only encouraged but pushed to try new things,” Rhodes said. “We want to be the case study that others follow.”

— Eric Fisher
  • What is the best advice you’ve ever received?: Always set goals and have dreams, because without them, you don’t live, you only exist.
  • What advice would you give to yourself 10 years ago?: Work should be a priority but not my top priority.
  • How would you describe effective business leadership?: Being able to recognize the goals of the organization as well as those of your most valuable assets, the employees, and effectively blend the two for success.
  • The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Setting yourself up to succeed even if success is defined by aspects that are out of your control (i.e., wins and losses). Find a way to win even when you lose.
  • Outside of work and family, I’m spending a lot of my time on …: Traveling, seeing new places, meeting new people, experiencing different cultures — and, most importantly, shopping.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

“She knows how important having a first-class workplace culture is to me personally and to the D-Backs organizationally. With that in mind, she has created and coordinated employee benefits, events and programs that are nationally recognized and have made us stand out.”

  • Derrick Hall, Arizona Diamondbacks president and CEO
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