Whitney Palmer

Healthcare. Politics. Family.

Roy Roberts – A Strong Work Ethic and a Respect for Education

Published in the February 2011 Boom! NC Magazine

by Whitney L.J. Howell

As a seven-year-old boy, Roy Roberts worked on a farm, packaging young tomato plants in newspaper to prepare them for sale. Even as a child, he recognized the bosses on the farm had the most education, and he quickly decided that learning as much as possible would be his path. The choice has served him well.

Today, Roberts is the founder and chief executive officer of Alliance of Professionals & Consultants Inc., (APC), a professional services and staffing firm in Raleigh. But that’s only his latest business venture. I was astounded as he listed his previous endeavors—creating an online dating service called Data-Mate, starting Diversified Systems Inc., retiring from IBM at the age of 48, launching a computer services company, and establishing the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of North Carolina.

He says his drive came from his mother—she was one of 13 children and was the first in her family to finish high school. Her accomplishment inspired her children, including Roberts, to graduate from college. That tradition endured, and each of Roberts’ five children now has advanced degrees.

After dedicating years to helping others improve their lots in life, Roberts says that, at 65, he’s developed a work-life philosophy that he hopes positively impacts everyone he meets.

“It’s important to see people as people. Don’t think of them as units or treat them as dollar signs,” Roberts says. “If you treat them professionally, they will become more like the professionals they need to be.”

Being an older worker actually helps him when he works with others, he says. Not only do people acknowledge his years of experience, but his seasoned demeanor also makes them feel at ease.

It came as no surprise to me, then, that this same principle guides his work with the American Indian Chamber of Commerce. It’s there that he gives Native American entrepreneurs business advice and guides them through the pot hole-laden path of launching a new project. However, he says he’s most proud of showing the majority of people who come to him that they aren’t quite ready yet to strike out on their own. Getting people to do more homework protects them from avoidable financial problems, he says.

His recent appointment to the US Department of Commerce’s National Advisory Council for Minority Business Enterprises is a natural step. In this role, he will advise the federal government on the policy issues affecting minority-owned businesses.

Despite his passion for his work, Roberts gets out of the office frequently. His vocation often gives way to his favorite pastime—being in nature with his grandchildren, walking along paths in the woods.

“We have a big place with nearly 100,000 trees. In fact, we planted 20 more just a few weekends ago,” he says. “One of the things my grandchildren like to do is find the faces in the trees.”

As a Native American himself, he feels it’s important for him to know his genealogy, as well as his wife’s. Amazingly, he’s been able to map his wife’s family back to 1627 and his as far back as the early 1700s.

But while his past is an important part of who he is and the person he has become, Roberts is forward-thinking. Although he has no plans to step away from working, he has many travel plans on the horizon. The Caribbean and Mexico are popular vacation spots for his family, and he and his wife intend to visit locales they’ve never seen.

“We’re traveling more. When we were young and first married, we couldn’t afford to travel,” he says. “Now, it’s time to spend the kids’ inheritance.”

To read the story online: http://www.boomnc.com/2011/02/articles_fiftyfab_triangle_201102.html

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February 1, 2011 - Posted by | Profiles | , , , , ,

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