CEO’s Business Savvy is just the break inmates need

By John Murawski,

Brian Hamilton, a CEO in sport coat and natty slacks, strides into the harsh gleam of industrial lighting to give his two-hour crash course on starting your own business.

His pupils: murders, robbers, rapists, drug dealers and other aspiring entrepreneurs residing at the Eastern Correctional Institution in Maury, a medium-security facility about 80 miles east of Raleigh. As he sets up, 65 convicts dressed in their prison-issued uniforms wait politely in a room built like an armored truck.

Hamilton, 46, got his start running his own landscaping business and today leads Sageworks, a financial data analysis firm in Raleigh. Over the years, he has taught this class more than a hundred times at chambers of commerce and small business centers.