'Apprentice' winner will address Focus grads

Randal Pinkett (NJ & Keble '94) stresses importance of enterprise and mixes it with community service

By Linda Conley

Television audiences became acquainted with Randal Pinkett when he won the fourth season of Donald Trump's reality show, "The Apprentice."

Pinkett had the best record as project manager, undefeated at 3-0. He appeared again on the show as a boardroom adviser.

 Upstate residents can see him as the keynote speaker for the graduation of the Spartanburg Focus on Leadership program. The event is at 7 p.m. Aug. 16 at the Marriott at Renaissance Park.

"One of the motivations behind having Dr. Pinkett speak is to stimulate black enterprise here, and he is just the kind of person to bring that spark to stir up that spirit," said the Rev. Kenneth Smith, president of the leadership group. "African-Americans make up 30 percent of the state's population, but have only 9 percent of the businesses."

Pinkett stresses the importance of enterprise and mixes it with community service.

"The message I bring foremost is that leadership, in my opinion, is about service to others," Pinkett said. "I draw the distinction between being successful and being great. For me, success is about what you do for yourself and greatness is what you do for others."

In a telephone interview from New Jersey, he said markers of success are money, power and influence. Markers of greatness include service, compassion and benevolence.

Pinkett is co-founder, chairman and CEO of BCT Partners, a management technology and policy consulting firm in Newark, N.J. Media reports indicate the company posted revenues in the seven digits four years after he launched it in 2001 with no startup capital.

His recipe for creating a successful business starts with building a good team.

"When it comes to entrepreneurs, we tend to focus on the individual at the helm, but there is always a team that works alongside," he said. "Success is working with people that complement you and make up for your limitations and help to strengthen you."

Years before entering the corporate world, Pinkett was a student at Rutgers University starting a business. He joined with friends selling compact discs and cassette tapes out of his dorm to pay for outreach initiatives for high school students.

The business helped him to launch another business venture and several more followed. One was a consulting firm specializing in the needs of inner city communities.

"My parents set the example by way of their involvement, spirit and concern for others," he said.

"Another factor is my faith in God. For those to whom much is given, much is expected. I see it as my responsibility to create opportunities and open doors for others."

Achievement and success seem to come easy for Pinkett. He was a scholar and captain of the Rutgers varsity men's track and field team. He graduated with honors and was the first black student from Rutgers to become a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

He has five college degrees in the areas of electrical engineering, computer science and business administration.

Pinkett considers himself a "down to earth" person and doesn't want others to look at his success as unattainable. He said he tries to be as accessible as possible.

"I want people to be able to relate to me, so they can see they can do the same thing," he said.

"I tell students I want them to get more degrees and be more successful than me."

See http://www.goupstate.com/article/20080803/NEWS/808030370/1083/news&title=_Apprentice__winner_will_address_Focus_grads