My father would call family meetings to give each of the four children an opportunity to raise any family or personal issues. He would go around the table, asking each of my siblings, who would dutifully respond, “Everything is fine.” Then, he’d get to me, and I would have a list of injustices that needed addressing. This always ended with me being sent to my room as punishment. I never learned to avoid controversy.
Marcus V. Brown says that perhaps he became a lawyer because, as a child, he never learned to avoid controversy during family meetings the way his brothers and sister did. But he’s not just any ordinary attorney. In 2012, he was elected by the Board of Entergy Corporation to serve as Senior Vice President and General Counsel. As a result, he is currently responsible for all legal, ethics, and compliance matters affecting Entergy and its subsidiaries — including providing counsel to the company’s Chairman and CEO, Board of Directors, and senior management. He is also a member of the Office of the Chief Executive, a group of senior management personnel involved in strategic planning for Entergy.
“I believe my abilities to assess issues quickly and respond thoughtfully are among the critical skills that keep me competitive,” says Brown. Regarding his keys to success, he says that his parents taught him two very simple tenets very early in life. “Treat people the way you expect to be treated, and always prepare well and give your best effort.”
Brown put his talents and leadership philosophy to work in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike. After evacuating from New Orleans to Houston with two middle-school-aged children, Brown and his wife — who is also an attorney — faced the prospect of building new careers out of state. Staying in Houston would have been the easy path, but they instead decided to stay committed to a city with an uncertain future.
“The experiences following Katrina have instilled a sense of resilience in me and many New Orleanians,” Brown says, “which makes taking on other significant challenges seem manageable.”
For example, while he and his family adjusted to all the difficulties of being displaced from their home, their schools, and their job locations, Brown led a small group of other displaced Entergy attorneys in an extended effort to recover more than $500 million in insurance proceeds. His team traveled to more than six countries, some multiple times, and ultimately succeeded in securing the money. Those funds were critical to rebuilding the damaged electric and gas infrastructure of Entergy’s utility system.
“Our efforts,” says Brown, “helped Entergy’s New Orleans utility emerge from bankruptcy, allowed my family’s return to New Orleans, and, ultimately, helped the city rebuild its infrastructure after the hurricane’s devastation.”
Brown’s overall leadership approach is to first be of service to others, says Entergy Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Roderick West. “Marcus is grounded in the principles of servant leadership as first articulated by Robert Greenleaf,” explains West. “He embodies the Eagle Spirit of leadership and commitment to diversity and service, as an example of even-tempered courage and stability.”
Brown believes that he is lucky to have had many influential people in his life, but the most inspirational was his mother. “She was an elementary- school teacher who instilled in me a deep appreciation of the power of education. As a community leader, she also taught me the importance of investing your time and resources in the people and the place where you live.”
CareerFOCUS Magazine and the National Eagle Leadership Institute® salute 2012 Eagle Award winner Marcus V. Brown.