After graduation Adams worked for the Mobil Corporation for 31 years from 1965 to 1996, serving as Vice President of Administration from 1988 to 1996. He served as a professor and dean at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business from 1996 to 2001.
Adams previously served as on the Board of Directors of Alleghany Corporation. In 2001, he was elected chairman of the Board of Directors for the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Adams also served as a trustee of Duke University.
- "Meet our Board of Directors". Invesco. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- "Appointment of Mr Rex D Adams". Securities and Exchange Commission. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- "Meet the CASE team!". Duke: The Fuqua School of Business. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- "Rex Adams of Duke University's Fuqua School of Business succeeds Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Chairman Colin Cambell as PBS Board Chairman". PBS. 2001-10-31. Retrieved 2008-07-02.
- "Rex D. Adams at forbes.com". Forbes.