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Jerrell Moore: Using relationships to find success

Former football standout cultivated life skills on field and in classroom

As a senior at South Carolina State University in 1997, Jerrell Moore was a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, known as the “academic Heisman Trophy” in football. He vividly recalls the awards ceremony.

Biography

Name: Jerrell Moore

Job: Vice president of diversity and inclusion at Charter Communications

Hometown: Denmark, Tennessee

Current City: Stamford, Connecticut

School: Bachelor’s degree in English, South Carolina State University, 1997; master’s degree in human resources, University of South Carolina, Columbia, 2004; law degree, University of South Carolina, Columbia, 2004

Sport: Football

Fun Fact: Before his senior year of high school, Moore was selected to attend Boys Nation, sponsored by the American Legion, and got to meet Bill Clinton during his presidency.

“It was kind of a full-circle moment for me,” Moore explained. “I could have gone to a bigger school, but sitting there with (then-University of Tennessee, Knoxville, quarterback) Peyton Manning to my left and (Grambling State University coaching legend) Eddie Robinson to my right, I knew I had made the right decision.”

Coming out of high school, Moore turned down scholarships from larger universities in favor of South Carolina State. Along with the opportunity to earn a college degree, he wanted a chance to start as a freshman on the football team.

Moore would be the first in his immediate family to graduate from college, so earning his degree was important. The oldest of four siblings, he grew up on a farm in Denmark, Tennessee, and was raised by parents who held manufacturing jobs at local factories and had a semester of college between them.

The all-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference lineman learned the value of relationships and in investing in others’ growth while playing college football. These skills in particular benefit Moore, a pioneer for leadership and diversity in the workplace, in his current role as vice president of diversity and inclusion at Charter Communications, a cable telecommunications company based in Stamford, Connecticut.

“There is nothing more important than relationships,” said Moore, who recognizes the need for teammates who can build on others’ strengths.

“There is a power to being around the people who knew you when you were unstoppable,” he said. “They remind you of that and help you see that value in you today.”

As a freshman, Moore earned a starting spot on the football team and dominated in the classroom, going on to graduate with the highest GPA among his peers in the athletics and English departments.

Even so, he almost walked away from the sport his junior year, overwhelmed by his commitments. Head football coach Willie Jeffries helped Moore rekindle his relationship with football.

“My coach told me that I was one of the few players he wouldn’t let quit,” Moore said. “In that moment, he stopped being a coach and acknowledged the challenges I was having. It really meant something to me.”

With newfound determination to succeed, Moore became team captain his senior year, graduated with his English degree that December and played in his last football game shortly thereafter.

After leaving South Carolina State, Moore was tested a second time as he transitioned to the workforce. Moore accepted an entry-level human resources position while keeping his eyes on a bigger dream – law school at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.

“Law school was a dream, but along the way I found human resources to become a passion,” Moore explained. “There is nothing better than calling someone to offer a job. To connect with people in that way, it really helped me.”

Moore extended his law studies to a dual program, earning a master’s degree in human resources at South Carolina. It allowed his career to take off.

“I interviewed with every company that came on campus, including CSX Transportation where my career eventually began,” Moore said. “It was about the success of the companies recruiting me, and I saw that in CSX.”

After a brief stint at Nike as manager of human resources for business partners, he joined the MassMutual Financial Group, where he grew professionally by honing his strategic thinking skills and furthering his understanding of diversity in the workplace. Others took notice, resulting in his recruitment by Burger King to be their chief diversity officer.

It was time to take a risk.

“I was at a point where I could stay comfortable or I could put myself in a place where I could really learn,” Moore said.

He left Burger King to join one of the largest mergers ever announced as Time Warner Cable transitioned to Charter Communications. This was a challenge Moore was ready to take on, relating it to his days as a college student and athlete.

“Working in uncertainty forces you to exercise different muscles,” Moore said. “Being a leader, like a team captain, people trust you because you show stability and certainty in ambiguous times.”

At Charter Communications, he oversees diversity and inclusion at a company with 90,000 employees operating in more than half of the United States.

“Success is not letting people down who help you,” Moore said. “All those things learned as a student-athlete – resilience, tenacity, self-sacrifice, dedication – are ironically all the things that make us successful in the corporate world.”