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Leaving Memphis Better Than He Found It

Jason Hood

Jason Hood learned as a Boy Scout to always leave a campsite better than he found it. He still applies that principle to his life. He uses it as a corporate attorney, in leadership at the Greater Memphis Chamber’s Chairman’s Circle and as a Boy Scouts of America volunteer. “One of the things I really think about is potential,” said Hood in his third-floor East Memphis office at Sedgwick, Inc., one of the city’s largest private employers. “I want to strive to improve, to realize potential. I would like to leave my workplace better than I found it. I would like to leave my community better than I found it.”

As executive vice president, chief legal officer and chief administrative officer at Sedgwick, Hood thinks of his job as a helping profession. Helping others is a motivation that runs through Hood’s life.

At Sedgwick, he is part of a team that provides third-party productivity management services for such things as medical leave and absenteeism and handles workers compensation and credit card warranty claims. A person might gloss over all those words, but Hood thinks of the people behind each situation. “Every day someone is having a traumatic event,” said Hood, his back to a two-tiered bookcase with a copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People on the shelf. “We try to address them. We handle claims from all over. We are a business partner… We provide advice and counsel on legal issues.”

Hood’s story begins in France. On account of his father’s military career, Hood was born there and lived in West Germany, too. In third grade, he moved to Memphis, closer to extended family. With his father living miles away, Hood found role models in Scouting. As an adult, he’s served in many leadership positions with the Boy Scouts. “He has certainly been very active in Scouting here,” said Richard Fisher, CEO of the Chickasaw Council of the Boy Scouts. “We build character. We build leaders.”

A Rhodes College graduate, Hood worked in civil law at Glankler Brown after law school at the University of Tennessee. He hated “train wrecks,” though, and preferred to be proactive, to help clients avoid legal missteps rather than cleanup after they’d been made, so he got on at Sedgwick Noble Lowndes, the employee benefits consulting arm of the old Sedgwick Group PLC, and gave in-house legal advice. After several months, he moved to a business built on helping people, the medical device company Wright Medical Technology. Hood stayed 12 years and got involved in “transactional work,” or legal work in buying and selling, such as drafting purchase agreements and contracts.

Sedgwick Inc., which employs about 13,000 people and recorded $1.5 billion in revenues in 2014, recruited him six years ago to head up its in-house legal work. A five-point mission statement that includes operating with integrity guides the legal team’s work. “I like what we’re doing because we’re helping people,” Hood said.

A couple of years ago, Chamber representatives visited him. At the time, he thought the Chamber sat on the sidelines too often. “We needed to be more actively involved in a visible and more meaningful way,” he said. “Business leaders needed to be more involved to bring their expertise.”

Hood was soon recruited to help implement that vision, shared with other business leaders. Duncan Williams, president of Duncan-Williams Inc., investment bankers, helped do the recruiting. He now serves with Hood as a co-chair of the Chairman’s Circle, the leadership body that pushed forward five “Moon Missions,” strategic endeavors to bolster economic prosperity. Williams said he wanted Hood for his experience with the medical industry, for his skills and for his character. “Jason knows how to run a huge organization,” Williams said. “He thinks strategically. He’s organized but he’s also even-keeled. He always keeps such a calm demeanor.”

Hood is now in his third year on the Chamber’s board of directors. He is delighted the Chamber has engaged a much broader base of business leaders and asserted its independence, taking stands on a variety of issues like quality pre-kindergarten education for all. “We have an opportunity and responsibility to help shape the agenda….Having a competent workforce is critically important.”

While championing causes to make Memphis a better place, Hood appreciates the “tremendous opportunities” here and the “great sense of community. The spirit of Memphis is very generous.” Hood lives in the Overton Park area with his wife and two children. They frequently enjoy the amenities of the park. “Memphis is a very livable city,” Hood said. “We’re so critical of ourselves. We focus on bad things. One of the challenges is to recognize the positive things, to be more aware of the great efforts in this city.”

This article was originally featured in the Memphis Crossroads Magazine. Click here to view the entire issue.

Story by: Toni Lepeska
Photo by: Troy Glasgow


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