Dr. Randal Pinkett: How he landed a billion-dollar government contract by 'putting in the time and energy'

If you are looking for someone who personifies academic and business success in the African-American community, Dr. Randal Pinkett is your go-to guy. Most people remember his rise to fame as the winner of the fourth season of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, a high point of his career — but there is much more to the man than this 2005 victory. Dr. Pinkett is a Rhodes Scholar, track star, author of multiple books, and has received two master’s degrees and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Most recently, Dr. Pinkett’s company, BCT Partners, was awarded a billion dollars in contracts from the U.S. government to help implement President Obama’s Affordable Care Act.

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Dr. Pinkett recently sat down with theGrio to share his advice on achieving personal success and entrepreneurship. Dr. Pinkett’s best tip? “Put in the time and energy that it takes to achieve what it is that you want to achieve.” He is a living example of this ethos.

Raised in Newark, N.J., Dr. Pinkett’s father died when he was a child. This left his mother to raise him and his older brother alone. Although the  doctorate’s family had fewer means, they still nourished him well, empowering him to grow. To this day, Dr. Pinkett is very grateful for these encouragements.

“They sacrificed to give me opportunities to go to college and get a solid education,” Pinkett said of his family.  Speaking of his mother, he added, “If she can sacrifice to give me opportunities the least I can do is to take advantage of those opportunities. I take very seriously the opportunities that have been given to me.”

Dr. Pinkett’s latest new horizon is the broadest of his career. His firm, BCT Partners, was just awarded two contracts from the Department of Health and Human Services worth close to $1 billion to upgrade its healthcare technology infrastructure. The goal is to bring healthcare technology into the 21st century.

“We want to streamline, consolidate, and engender cost savings [in healthcare management] for the Obama administration,” Dr. Pinkett told theGrio. “The average consumer can expect  iPhone apps [that] will be able to access records across the board, comprehensive healthcare and the ability to streamline payments to providers. The kind of things that you envision technology being able to do, this contract will allow us to actually do it.”

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How did Dr. Pinkett get such a great piece of business? “ We’ve been playing in the federal marketplace since 2004, which is about eight years total. It took us a while to gain a foothold in the market.”

Yet he faced “a classic catch-22: When you first go after business with the federal government, they ask ‘what have you done for the federal government?’ If you haven’t done any work previously, then you can’t do any work for them!”

Inspired by Leonard Greenhalgh and James Lowry’s book, Minority Business Success, Dr. Pinkett finally resolved this conundrum. “We broke in by working with strategic partners. Our main partner was Delta Solutions, who was acquired by a larger company called CACI a while back. They had a long standing track record with working with the government,” he explained. “I had a contact that put me on some of the contracts that Delta Solutions already had as a subcontractor. This helped build our track record.”