"Roland stands out as a role model for ethical leadership in Corporate America."
- Richard Manson Attorney/Author
Born in a small, rural, West Tennessee town just before the outbreak of World War II, Roland Jones was raised in a time when African-Americans were still expected to “keep their place” and hold their tongues in a racially segregated society. But thanks to his family and then to the civil rights movement, Roland grew up believing in his right to chart his own course. He was a boy when he started his first business and discovered the rewards of giving outstanding service. After college, he went into the Army, then taught school, got into radio broadcasting, and owned and ran a small grocery store before leaving the South.
Almost by chance, he got his first job with McDonald's, as a management trainee in Washington D.C. By 1968, he had worked his way up to store manager—one of very few in the McDonald's system—when the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stunned the nation and changed the way McDonald's did business. To protect its big city operations, the company needed black franchisees and black executives. It could no longer afford to take black and other minority consumers for granted. One of the first decisions made by McDonald's was to hire Roland Jones as a regional consultant in Chicago--the first black man to set foot on the corporate ladder.
As a consultant and then regional department director, Roland worked side-by-side with the first black McDonald's franchisees. Under his leadership, the franchisees formed a self-help group that grew into a national model for minority and female business organizations. Asked by the president of McDonald's to become the first director of the company's Urban Operations department, Roland initiated ground-breaking programs to improve communication and expand opportunities for minority owners nationwide.
Two years later, Roland became a franchisee in Nashville, Tennessee, and grew his initial store into a profitable multi-restaurant business. He left McDonald's in 1990 to take on new challenges in ownership and as a business consultant and to become the author of Standing Up and Standing Out—his first-hand account of how a corporate giant changed itself.
Roland lives in Nashville, TN, with his wife Susan, an attorney.
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