Prominent Tech Director Explains How His Past Shaped His Future
David C. Williams is a prominent tech director responsible for AT&T’s SPI (Sensitive Personal Data) solution. His creation is the reason why 40,000 of AT&T’s employees have been able to securely and permanently work from home amid the pandemic. But, before he started shaking up the tech industry, he was simply a young man with an adamant desire to change his situation.
How it Started
Born in the inner-city of Dallas, TX, David comes from humble beginnings. He was raised by his mother after his father tragically died from suicide, and he quickly learned to create his path. “I’m the youngest of six; I come from a very big family. There was always a lot of love but not necessarily a lot of money, so we were always figuring out ways to close gaps.”
His mother worked overtime to ensure he was able to attend a local private school. He’d have to ride the public bus every day and walk home every evening. But in retrospect, it seemed as if things were going well. However, he eventually grew tired of watching her struggle and decided to find a way to help out financially. Little did he know, it was this type of go-getter mentality that would fuel his career. “A lot of times it hasn’t been easy for people of color trying to break through the ranks. But when you live through different types of experiences you gain transferable skills. So many disadvantaged people come into the workplace and leave those experiences at home. I suggest you bring that with you but just modify it to fit your profession, and then use it.”
How it Blossomed
And that is exactly what he did. In his various roles at AT&T, David has created hyperlink HTML marketing initiatives that garnered 90 million monthly impressions, supported several Fortune 500 companies encompassing $120M in revenue, and authored two patents for Reprogrammable RFID and bridging satellite broadband and LTE technology. When asked if he always knew he’d be in this space he answered with a quick and clear, no, before elaborating. “I think it takes a while to learn your vision. For me, I’ve always been curious and if you look at technology, the premise of it is based on science and mathematics. This is purely an evolution of the curiosity of scientists and mathematicians, developing more math and science. That curiosity in me has lent itself to figuring out stuff, and that’s the world we live in. At its core, that’s how it started but I could have never imagined then that I’d be doing the stuff I am today.”
How Things Changed
The pandemic was another moment he never envisioned, yet it was an important turning point in his life both personally and professionally. His mother, who he’s extremely close to, developed COVID-19, and he was forced to watch many capable people unable to do their jobs. Again he was triggered to make a difference. “In every job, the point is to solve a problem. When I think about how the pandemic affected me professionally, it brought about challenges and put a lot of companies in stressful situations. For us, the telecommunications industry is so heavily regulated, there is information that people can’t have exposure to when at home and that presented a lot of issues. But I work with a small great group and we came up with ideas that allowed people to work from home and do their job successfully and frictionally and the company earned the money it needed to and served the people it needed to.”
How It’s Going
For his efforts, David was awarded great honors such as the 2021 Black Engineer of the Year award and The Rodney Atkins award. And he tries to find a balance of personal life by Netflix and chilling, sports, and keeping fun things around him. When asked about advice for others, he emphasized the importance of mentorship, hard work, and collaboration. “We are in a competitive world so just realize that you have to bring your A-game. Know that if you do want to be successful you need to talk to someone who is already doing it. And the last thing I would say is to believe, let’s not aim for mediocrity. And if you can’t do it on your own, pair up with someone so you can do something exponential.
You can keep up with David and his latest projects through his website at https://davidcwilliamsinc.com.
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Kirby Carroll (@askKirbyCarroll)