Rand, A. Barry 1944–
A. Barry Rand 1944–
When A. Barry Rand was promoted to executive vice president of operations for the Xerox Corporation in 1992, he moved one step closer to becoming the first black CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Having worked his way up from a sales trainee, Rand is proud to be one of four executives in charge of operations for the billion dollar corporation. But he is equally proud of his role as vanguard for a culturally diverse U.S. work force. “You consistently have people who say you can’t afford to emphasize minority and female participation,” he told Fortune. “So you have to take a deep breath and pick up the flagpole and carry it some more.”
As an only child from a middle-class family in Washington, D.C., Rand started on the road to success at an early age. At the private, integrated high school he attended, Rand excelled in academics, was voted class president, and served as captain of the baseball, basketball, and football teams. Though his parents were proud of his achievements, they “made it clear, when I was young,” Rand told Jonathan Hicks of the New York Times, “that I was supposed to go to college and I was supposed to go to graduate school and I was supposed to be a professional.”
Upon graduation, Rand enrolled at Rutgers University, where he found life to be a lot different from his glory days in high school. After two years of average grades and an athletic career that went unnoticed, he moved back to Washington and transferred to the American University, earning a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 1968. Rand would later receive two more degrees from Stanford University—a master’s degree in business administration in 1972 and a master’s in management science in 1973.
But it was his parents’ dream of his becoming “a professional” that became his first priority. For a while, retail sales jobs at various suburban Washington, D.C. department stores were the only opportunities that seemed to be coming his way. Then, in 1968, as Blair S. Walker of USA Today wrote, “the ambitious 24-year-old crashed a private recruiting session [for the Xerox Corporation] in a Washington hotel suite, and boldly proclaimed, ‘Everybody needs good salespeople. Therefore, you need me.’ It didn’t matter that Xerox was looking for chemists or that Rand had little sales experience and had already been rejected twice.” Rand got a job as the first black sales representative in the Washington area for Xerox.
Born Addison Barry Rand, November 5, 1944, in Washington, DC; son of Addison Penrod (a postal clerk) and Helen Matthews (an elementary school principal) Rand; married second wife, Donna, in 1990; children: Christopher (stepson) and Allison. Education: Attended Rutgers University; American University, B.S. in marketing, 1968; Stanford University, M.B.A., 1972, M.A. in management science, 1973.
Corporate executive. In retail sales in department stores, C. middle to late 1960s; Xerox Corp., sales representative, 1968-70, regional sales representative, 1970-80, corporate director of major account marketing, 1980-81, vice president of major account marketing operations, 1981-82; vice president of field operations, 1983-84; vice president of eastern operations, 1984-85; corporate vice president, 1985-86; president of U.S. Marketing Group and senior vice president, 1986-92; executive vice president of operations, 1992—. Director on the boards of Honeywell Inc., Abbott Laboratories, the College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; serves on the board of overseers for the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, the board of directors for the Garth Fagan Dance Theatre, and the advisory council for the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
Awards: Inducted into the National Sales Hall of Fame, 1993.
Rand excelled almost immediately in sales. It didn’t take long before he was the top salesman in his region, and by 1970 he was third in the country. Yet, even though many large American corporations—including Xerox—were committed to making affirmative action plans work, he knew that because he was an African American he would have to work twice as hard and be twice as good to prove his worth.
“I have always wanted to show that blacks can perform as well as or better than their counterparts,” he explained to Hicks. “And I’ve always wanted to show that, in programs that provide affirmative action opportunities, you’re not getting someone who is less qualified.” So, along with a group of other black employees at Xerox, Rand helped to form local caucus groups that would allow blacks to help each other climb the corporate ladder. They met to study how the company’s copiers worked, to share information, and to offer words of support and encouragement. They were so determined to help each other succeed that they borrowed the company’s video equipment to tape and critique their sales presentations.
Rand recalled one incident for Christine Dugas of New York Newsday. “In Washington, D.C. there was a black sales rep who was not doing well. At the time there may have been seven or eight black sales reps who all got together and went into the person’s territory to help that person in building skills, and getting prospects and closing orders.” Unfortunately, their desire to be the best was not being recognized by the corporation. Even though the number of minorities being hired by Xerox was growing dramatically and their skills were equal to or better than many of their peers, they were not being promoted as quickly as their white colleagues.
In 1971 a group of black employees in San Francisco charged the company with discrimination and filed a class-action suit. In an effort to resolve the problem, Xerox management formed a Minority Advisory Committee to track the progress of black employees and fight racism in the workplace; Rand was selected as one of seven employees to sit on the committee. As a member of “The Road Show,” as the committee would later be known, Rand traveled the country setting up conferences for black caucuses and serving as a role model for other black employees.
Rand proved the right choice as a role model as he worked his way up through a variety of sales and marketing positions. In 1980 he was named corporate director of major account marketing. Since Xerox had lost 30 percent of the worldwide office products market since 1970, Rand knew he was facing probably one of his toughest challenges—developing a new marketing program to get Fortune 1,000 companies to buy more of their products. “I had to start a new marketing program and approach—a lengthy procedure,” he told Hicks. “That was the period when we were beginning to feel the tremendous impact of competition and losing market share to Japan. You had people within the company who didn’t want to change the way they did things. But we were successful.”
The success of the new marketing program brought Rand an appointment to vice president of major account marketing operations in 1981, which was soon followed by a string of successive promotions: vice president of field operations in 1983, vice president of eastern operations in 1984, and a corporate vice presidency in 1985. Rand’s rise through the corporate ranks reached a high point when he was named president of Xerox’s U.S. Marketing Group in 1986.
In his position as leader of the company’s $5 billion sales force of 33,000 employees, Rand was determined to make Xerox one of the most successful corporations in America—where a woman or minority would have an equal chance at success. Though many other corporate giants were facing criticism for their handling of affirmative action, Rand was determined to have his say. “As long as we have cultural biases,” he told Jim Schachter of the Los Angeles Times, “as long as we have racial biases that inhibit people from having equal opportunity, then minorities and females want those behaviors counteracted so we can have an equal footing and an equal chance. So, if programs are set up that, if implemented well, level the playing field, then yes, people still want to have a level playing field.”
Rand was obviously well-suited to his position as president of the U.S. Marketing Group because during his tenure his organization received national recognition as the Number One Sales Force and Number One Training Organization in America. He was also the driving force behind Xerox receiving the prestigious Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award in 1989.
It was no surprise to anyone when Rand moved further up the corporate ladder a short time later. When Xerox’s CEO since 1932, David T. Kearns, retired in 1990, the company began a major management restructuring process. The new chairman and CEO of Xerox, Paul Allaire, transformed the office of the president into a document processing corporate office. In February of 1992, Rand was elected to the position of executive vice president. According to Black Enterprise, “Rand was tapped with three other top executives to serve in the company’s newly formed Corporate Office. Established to divide the responsibilities that usually fall under the president and chief operating officer (Xerox has neither), the group…shares operational responsibilities for Xerox’s nine worldwide business units and three worldwide geographic customer operations units.”
Even if Rand does not become the first black CEO of a Fortune 500 company, he is determined to continue in his fight to diversify the workplace and to ensure that equality is commonplace. He is proud of the fact that he was inducted into the National Sales Hall of Fame in 1993. But he is equally proud of his achievements in furthering the cause of civil rights in corporate American, so much so that he told USA Today that he’d like his epitaph to read: “He stayed in the fight all the way. He kept pushing for social change. He made his contribution in his way, and he did it throughout the whole visit here.”
Atlanta Daily World, June 2, 1987, p. 1.
Black Enterprise, May 1992, p. 24; February 1993, p. 122.
Emerge, June 1992, p. 18.
Fortune, April 20, 1992, p. 20.
Los Angeles Times, April 17, 1988, p. D1.
New York Newsday, April 4, 1993.
New York Times, December 10, 1986, p. D2; May 22, 1987, p. D1; November 22, 1990, p. D3; February 5, 1992, p. D4.
USA Today, March 25, 1992, p. A1.
Wall Street Journal, November 21, 1990, p. B8.