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A Renaissance Man

Brad Martin's career path has taken him from politics to child care and everything in between

Brad Martin
Chairman of Chesapeake Energy, Chairman of RBM Ventures, and Retired Chairman and CEO of Saks Incorporated

Vanderbilt MBA 1980

Brad Martin has been involved in so many different fields — from retail to energy and from publishing to politics and philanthropy — that you might be tempted to wonder if there’s any kind of endeavor in which he hasn’t been involved.

In the 1970s, he became the youngest person elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives, serving five terms in the state legislature. He made a fortune in real estate, then turned his attention to the retail sector. From 10 stores in East Tennessee, Martin built a Fortune 500 company that owned Saks Inc. (where he was chairman for more than two decades). During his tenure, the value of the company’s stock increased more than twelvefold. He also co-founded Corporate Child Care, a pioneering business that grew to become the largest provider of employer-sponsored child care in the United States.

Martin “retired” from Saks in 2007, but he hardly retired from business. He established RBM Venture Company, a private investment firm focused on helping well-established businesses grow into larger, more successful companies. He also launched the Martin Family Foundation, which supports organizations involved in healthcare services for the working poor, addiction recovery, education, re-entry from incarceration and arts programming. In 2013-14, he served as interim president for his alma mater, the University of Memphis.

Martin also is the non-executive Chairman of the Board of Chesapeake Energy, and serves on the boards of FedEx and Pilot Oil / Flying J. He also has served on corporate boards ranging from Dillard’s to Caesars Entertainment to lululemon athletica.

In his “spare time,” Martin co-authored Five Stones: Conquering Your Challenges — a book aimed at helping readers deal with the “Goliaths” they face in ministry, work and life — along with a children’s book, Myles’ Pesky Friends.