Roger Martin Biography | Family, Career, Nobel Prize & Novelist

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Roger L. Martin, CM, a well-known corporate and academic figure, has left an indelible imprint on the landscape of management thought. This detailed Roger Martin Biography delves into his life, career, and key ideas, diving into revolutionary concepts such as integrative thinking and design thinking.

Quick Facts about Roger Martin Biography

AspectQuick Facts
Full NameRoger L. Martin CM
Birth DateAugust 4, 1956
EducationHarvard College
Athletic AchievementsPlayed for the Harvard Crimson men’s volleyball team
Career StartDirector founded Canadian office and Monitor University
Monitor AchievementsDirector founded the Canadian office and Monitor University
Dean of Rotman SchoolAppointed in September 1998, served until June 2013
Post-Dean PositionLeadership role at the Martin Prosperity Institute
Board MembershipsThomson Reuters Corporation, Skoll Foundation, Tennis Canada
Writing ContributionsRegular columnist for Businessweek, Washington Post, Financial Times, and Harvard Business Review articles
Books Authored“The Responsibility Virus” (2003), “The Opposable Mind” (2007), “The Design of Business” (2009), “Fixing the Game” (2011)
Collaborative Books“The Future of the MBA” (2008) with Mihnea Moldoveanu, “Playing to Win” (2013) with A.G. Lafley
Recent FocusCorporate responsibility, reevaluation of company success metrics, advocacy for executive compensation model changes
RankingsThinkers50: 2nd most influential management thinker in 2019, 5th in 2021, 1st in 2017
Personal LifeMarried Marie-Louise Skafte in October 2015, appointed to the Order of Canada in 2016, New England Patriots fan

Early Life and Education

Roger L. Martin, born on August 4, 1956, began his intellectual and athletic adventure at a young age. His early years, raised with a curious mind and a desire for learning, laid the groundwork for a career that would merge academia, business, and inventive thinking.

Martin had a natural talent for both academics and sports as a child. His early scholastic prowess foreshadowed the intellectual depth that would eventually define his contributions to business and management. His passion for sports, particularly volleyball, demonstrated a disciplined and competitive character.

Martin’s intellectual adventure began at Harvard College, where he not only excelled academically. But also created a name for himself as a member of the Harvard Crimson men’s volleyball team. His combined devotion to academic and athletic goals demonstrates his all-encompassing attitude to life. Predicting his subsequent ability to balance opposing ideals in the corporate world.

Cultivating Leadership Excellence at Harvard

Martin’s experiences at Harvard were not limited to the classroom. The vibrant intellectual environment, combined with the hard volleyball training, sharpened his talents in teamwork, strategic thinking, and discipline. These characteristics would subsequently serve him well as a leader in both the corporate and academic worlds.

Martin’s eclectic early life and schooling offered a rich tapestry of abilities and viewpoints. His experience at Harvard provided him with not just a good academic foundation. But also ingrained in him the qualities of teamwork, resilience, and a commitment to greatness that would define his future endeavours.

Martin’s early life and schooling, in retrospect, lay the framework for a unique blend of intellectual prowess and practical savvy. These formative years not only influenced his character but also planted the seeds for his later career’s inventive thinking and multifaceted leadership. Martin’s early experiences with academic rigour and physical discipline foreshadowed integrated thinking. That would become a hallmark of his contributions to the field of business management.

roger martin picture

Career at Monitor Group

Martin began his career with Monitor Group, a worldwide management consulting firm, after finishing his education. During his 13-year stint, he rose to the position of director. He was instrumental in establishing the firm’s Canadian office and its educational arm, Monitor University. His leadership at Monitor Group provided the groundwork for his eventual academic successes.

Dean of Rotman School of Management

Martin was appointed Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto in 1998. During his tenure, which lasted from 1998 to 2013, he made major contributions to management education. Martin’s leadership was distinguished by creativity and the introduction of novel ideas, cementing his position as a thought leader in the area.

Authorship and Thought Leadership

Roger Martin’s influence extends beyond academia due to his prolific publishing. He has offered his ideas on integrative thinking, company design, and corporate responsibility through a regular post in Businessweek’s Innovation and Design Channel. Contributions to the Washington Post’s On Leadership blog, and the Financial Times’ Judgement Call column. Martin has written and co-written several books, including “The Opposable Mind,” “The Design of Business,” and “Fixing the Game.”

Contributions to Business Thinking

Martin has made substantial contributions to the development of integrative and design thinking. According to him, integrative thinking enables corporate executives to creatively balance opposing models, leading to inventive problem-solving. Design thinking, on the other hand, emphasises a combination of analytical and intuitive thinking to develop organisations that can provide long-term competitive advantages.

Business Ideas and Political Involvement

Martin was engaged in offering answers to bigger challenges outside of his academic and literary activities. He participated in a proposal for a lifetime income tax in 2004, to reform Canada’s taxation structure. His latest emphasis on corporate responsibility emphasises a shift in judging firm success. Arguing for reforms in CEO compensation patterns, and a strategic focus on customer and community benefit.

Recognition and Rankings

Roger Martin’s influence is evident in the numerous accolades he has received. Thinkers50 consistently ranked him among the most influential management thinkers globally, with the second position in 2019 and the top spot in 2017.


Roger Martin’s transformation from excellent athlete to visionary academic and powerful corporate thinker exemplifies his multifaceted approach to life. His legacy is defined not just by his leadership at Rotman, but also by his important contributions to business thinking and the cultivation of new ideas. Roger Martin’s principles of integrative thinking and design thinking remain critical guides for business leaders navigating the intricacies of the modern period as the globe continues to evolve.

FAQs about Roger Martin Biography

What is integrative thinking?

Integrative thinking is the ability to balance opposing models creatively, generating solutions that surpass individual models, and fostering innovation and effective problem-solving.

What is design thinking?

Design thinking emphasizes a balance between analytical and intuitive thinking, enabling organizations to exploit existing knowledge and create new knowledge for lasting competitive advantage.

What are Roger Martin’s notable books?

Roger Martin has authored several influential books, including “The Opposable Mind,” “The Design of Business,” and “Fixing the Game.”

How did Roger Martin contribute to tax reform in Canada?

In 2004, Roger Martin collaborated on a proposal for a lifetime income tax, aiming to reform Canada’s taxation system.

What is Roger Martin’s recent focus on corporate responsibility?

Roger Martin advocates for an overhaul in evaluating company success, suggesting changes in executive compensation models and a strategic focus on benefiting customers and the community.


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