As technology is rapidly evolving, STEM experts are working to develop facets of new electronic and appliance devices in order to fulfill the needs of various communities. As AT&T’s Assistant Vice President of Automation, David C. Williams is spearheading a revolution in automated technology.
Born and raised in south Dallas, Williams faced many a struggle growing up. However, he maintained an entrepreneurial spirit, which carried over into career in STEM.
“In fourth grade, I was taking the city bus from a liquor store to go to a private Catholic school in south Dallas,” Williams tells Local Profile. “It was the poorest Catholic private school in the city. My mother was working overtime just to afford it. I lived on a budget every day, which would be $0.75 for the bus, $1 for lunch, and $0.50 for a snack until she got off work.”
This daily routine motivated Williams to break out of this struggle and become a young business man. One day, he bought a bunch of candy before school, then he took it to school to sell to his classmates at twice the price at which he purchased it. He continued to sell candy, and eventually got to the point where his mother didn’t have to give him money for lunch anymore.
“Honestly, I was really just as a kid in school,” Williams says. “And I just wanted more than one piece of pizza on Fridays, like any kid, I wanted two or three. So that’s what I was aiming for.”
Williams took his transferable skills over to AT&T, a company he’s worked in for over 20 years, since it was known as SBC. He began working as a customer service representative in the network dispatch center and has climbed up the latter into positions like director of customer experience, director of chat and social media, to his current role as the assistant vice president of automation.
During the early days of COVID, Williams created AT&T Secure Link, a sensitive personal information solution which allows employees to work securely from the comfort of their homes, as they obtained sensitive information from customers without directly revealing actual digits.
“We have maybe 600 bots that are running,” Williams says of the day-to-day in the automation department. “We are probably going to eclipse 50 or 60 million transactions, automated this year, and make a few 100 million dollars worth of impact this year as well.”
As workplace culture continues to change, Williams hopes to increase the amount of BIPOC in STEM and create a team he can elevate and grow over the years. He wants for members of his team to be recognized both within the company and in the realm of awards and innovation.
“Everyone’s voice can be heard,” Williams says. “And the culture that we have is like our family. We joke and play with each other, everyone on the team has a nickname and I believe that that type of diversity is what’s needed because our society has those types of problems that need to be solved for in the right way. And we need more diversity so that technology can not only be better, but can move faster as well.”
Ten years from now, Williams wants to be able to get to-and-from in an automated car. He’d like to take a helicopter from north to south Los Angeles while on business trips to avoid traffic.
But more than anything, he wants to inspire children from neighborhoods like south Dallas to go after their dreams and to innovate, no matter what roadblocks are in the way.
“I don’t think I’m unique,” Williams says. “I think that I may be an anomaly, but I think that there are a lot of anomalies that come from these kinds of neighborhoods. Whether it’s a corporate job, or a business you’re starting, or school that you’re going through, bring in those past experiences and those transferable skills with the mindset to hit a home run when no one is looking.”
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