VOL. 132 | NO. 197 | Wednesday, October 4, 2017
Retired FedEx Exec Rodriguez Becomes City of Memphis CIO
By Kate Simone
Mike Rodriguez recently became the city of Memphis’ director of information services and chief information officer, a role he took on after retiring from a 27-year career at FedEx Corp. Rodriguez, who most recently served as FedEx’s director of information security, was nominated as city CIO by Mayor Jim Strickland and confirmed by the Memphis City Council Sept. 23.
In his new role, he oversees around 75 to 80 employees and is responsible for all technology infrastructure and applications used to run the city, including data systems, networks, telephones, websites, property tax collections and payroll, among other things.
Hometown: My dad was in the military, so I grew up overseas, but Nashville was always home base.
Experience: I worked for the Boy Scouts of America for one year, and then I came to Memphis to continue my education, but I ended up going to work for FedEx in their technology area. It was a great opportunity that came my way because of that.
What talent do you wish you had? I wish I could play the guitar. I’ve had one for years and I pick at it, but I’ve never mastered it and I really wish I could master the guitar.
You had a 27-year career with FedEx. What drew you to working with the city of Memphis after you retired? I’ve always stayed pretty active in the community. I think it was in ’99, one of the officers I worked for at FedEx – one of the VPs – nominated me to go to Leadership Memphis. And ever since I was involved in Leadership Memphis, after I met everyone involved there, I … developed a passion to try and do what I could to make this a better city. So since then I’ve been on the board for the Memphis Oral School for the Deaf, the American Red Cross, I just finished the past president for the Levitt Shell, a couple of IT councils. …
When this opportunity was presented to me after being retired, I thought it would be great because I could leverage the passion I have for making the city better and leverage the background I have across a number of different responsibilities in information technology organization and hopefully make the city better from this purview. So that’s why I was interested in it.
How does managing IT in a municipal setting differ from a corporate setting? It’s interesting for me to try and answer. I’ve only been here 60 days, so I’m just getting my hands around things. I think there’s a longer horizon in the government, in how you have to plan your projects across a longer threshold.
There’s the requirement that you have to work with the city council for funding, you have to get budgeting, and then you move your projects. Some of that exists in Corporate America, in terms of you have a longer horizon, but a lot of times you’re able to have a little bit of a shorter horizon.
What’s one thing Memphians might not know about the city’s information services? I think what the city needs to know is there’s a lot of talented individuals that are focused on trying to make this a better place to live, and they’re really focused on bringing the Memphis-area technology to the table to help advance that cause of making this a better place.
I was surprised to see a lot of the passion that a lot of these people have for the technologies they’re responsible for, but also for the larger good toward the city in how to make the place a better place. I mean, really. You have to be interested in making this a better city to work for the city.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishment? I think a lot of the accomplishments I have would be better framed in that the way I address problems – I enjoy taking on big challenges that others try to avoid, because I really think if you take a focused approach at it you can actually have a bigger impact.
What do you most enjoy about your work? It’s down to reframing the way people do business based on the benefit of technology.
If you could give one piece of advice to young people, what would it be? Find something you’re interested in, hopefully it’s technology, and focus on mastering it – and then come to work for the city.
Dr. Robert McDonald, a specialist in veterinary internal medicine, has joined Memphis Veterinary Specialists. Before joining MVS, McDonald worked for Antech Diagnostics for 18 years as a consultant in internal medicine for small animals. He has advanced training in the fields of infectious disease, liver and gastrointestinal disease, urinary tract disease and respiratory disease, and he has a special interest in endocrinology and tick-borne infectious diseases.
Ami Austin, principal designer and president of Memphis-based Ami Austin Interior Design based, won a first-place honor at the Interior Design Society's 2017 Designer of the Year competition. Austin's design of a Memphis kitchen earned the top spot in the "Kitchens $50,000 and Above" category, as chosen by nine industry experts.
The Memphis Child Advocacy Center recently recognized its Honors Day award winners for their service. Charlotte Jones of the Shelby County Child Protection Investigation Team received the James G. Hughes CPIT Excellence Award for Compassion; Wendy Barringer, an investigator from the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, and Sgt. Anthony Lee from the Memphis Police Department received the James G. Hughes CPIT Excellence Award for Teamwork; Dr. Altha Stewart of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center received the James G. Hughes Community Advocate Award; and Deborah Northcross received the Nediva Award, which honors a Memphis CAC volunteer who has made invaluable contributions toward the center’s mission.
Jennifer Hughes, director, brand public relations focused service brands at Hampton by Hilton, and Tiffany Wilson, manager, brand public relations focused service brands, have won PR News’ Platinum Award for PR Team of the Year. The award recognizes 2016-2017 achievements, and celebrates Hughes’ and Wilson’s vision, leadership and goal-surpassing results spotlighting Hampton by Hilton.
Memphis in May International Festival received 11 Pinnacle Awards at the International Festival & Events Association’s 62nd annual Convention & Expo. Memphis in May was recognized for the best Overall Sponsorship Program in North America and received two Gold Pinnacle Awards, six Silver Pinnacle Awards and three Bronze Pinnacle Awards.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund has awarded River City Capital Investment $384,000 through the fiscal year 2017 round of its Community Development Financial Institutions Program. The CDFI Program invests in and builds the capacity of CDFIs to serve low-income people and communities lacking adequate access to affordable financial products and services.