Monday, October 16, 2006
Thomas Randazzo, a versatile volunteerOne business leader who has made a big impact on Oakland University's SmartZone Business Incubator (OU INC) (see related story) is Thomas Randazzo, an attorney who also holds two OU degrees; an undergraduate degree in engineering (’71), and a master’s in business administration (‘80). As a charter member of the OU INC “kitchen cabinet” advisory board, Randazzo has assisted client companies as a volunteer with strategic and business issues, as well as answering legal and patent questions.
“Tom has devoted hundreds of hours to our incubator. It’s great to have someone of his caliber and unique background at OU INC,” Spencer said. “He is especially valuable to the incubator because he brings three different perspectives – engineering, law and business - to the table.”
“My combination of engineering, business and legal skills has worked well for me and is a great fit for OU INC,” explained Randazzo. “It affords me the opportunity to look at new technologies, innovations and inventions from a technical aspect and then determine how they could fit into a business growth strategy and how a company can take them in new directions. Of course you need to understand a lot of legal implications along the way.”
For Randazzo, his multitalented expertise was simply a matter of “one thing leading to another.” As an engineer at Detroit Edison, he needed a sound grasp of business concepts. He enrolled in an OU class on probabilities and statistics for engineers but felt he needed a more practical application. He headed towards the School of Business Administration and quickly recognized the benefits of a full MBA. Just before graduating, he took a Legal Environment in Business course. He enjoyed it so much; he decided to go for his law degree.
Randazzo’s mantra has always been: Keep your options open. “You should develop skills to take you in different directions. Being marked as having only one skill can be limiting. In the corporate world, you need to show the company’s leadership that you are more than one-dimensional,” he said.
Randazzo’s independent law practice is far from one-dimensional, serving a variety of clients. Still, much of his legal work leads back to small business start-ups. When asked how he finds the time to put so many hours into the incubator, he simply replies, “You have to make time. It’s a lot of work but it’s interesting to me. It’s important because I believe I bring some value.”
“To be a part of creating new innovations and new businesses through an incubator like this - how can you not get excited about something like that?” reflected Randazzo. “It’s fun and it makes sense. It’s in OU’s best interest to continue to foster business success through OU INC.”