Black History Month Interview: Ron Williams
Black History Month is more than just a month on the calendar; it’s an opportunity for all of us to come together, learn, and appreciate the diverse stories and experiences that make us stronger and more vibrant. This month provides a platform for us to reflect on the past, celebrate the present, and envision a more inclusive future.
To kick off Black History Month, we are honored to share our interview with Ron Williams, Account Manager from Texas. Read below to discover more about Ron’s unique insights and life experiences.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your role within the company?
A: My name is Ron Williams, and I am an Account Manager. I started about a year and a half ago as a Business Development Representative, and I’m excited about my transition to this new role as Account Manager. It’s been a great ride so far, and GTreasury encompasses both of my passions – technology and finance.
Q: What does Black History Month mean to you personally?
I have three children, and Black History Month is a perfect time to reflect on the rich history, culture, and resilience of African Americans. My kids enjoy googling different inventors to discover more about the contributions of African Americans throughout history.
Q: How have your cultural background and experiences shaped your professional journey?
I’m from Richmond, VA, which has lots of Black history and is close to DC, which is very diverse. Because of that, I had a diverse friend group growing up and was exposed to lots of different backgrounds, cultures, and ethnicities. This has helped me advance in my professional career, as I’m open to having conversations with any and everybody, regardless of background. I can engulf myself in somebody else’s culture, respect their traditions, and put myself in their shoes. Being in sales, you never know who your client or prospect might be. Because I can speak to people with different backgrounds, I build rapport quickly.
Q: Have you faced any unique challenges in your personal or professional life related to your identity, and how did you overcome them?
There are stereotypes that come with being an African American man. When I was in high school, I had my hair long and I dressed a certain way. One of the things I’ve always leaned on is being good with my words, literature, and English. So, it was unexpected when I wrote a paper for my English class and my teacher accused me of not writing my own paper. This was back in the 90s, before ChatGPT, and she had no proof of me plagiarizing. She was stereotyping me based on my appearance. As time went on, I recognized that I had a gift for putting words together and received an award in college for English. So that was a challenge that I faced early on, which made me realize that stereotypes are real, but I have to be myself and believe in my own talents.
Q: How have historical figures or events influenced your personal or professional aspirations?
With the civil rights movement, African Americans have overcome many obstacles and adversities. Because of this, I’ve been able to be very ambitious. I’ve seen my parents and grandparents go through things that I didn’t have to. Their struggles and resilience granted me opportunities that weren’t there for my previous generations. Because of this, in my professional career, I take any opportunity that I can to give it 120%. I try to paint that picture for my kids and encourage them that they can go further as well.
Q: Are there any books, films, or artistic works that you believe provide a deeper understanding of Black culture and would recommend to others interested in learning more?
Basquiat was an amazing African American abstract artist who worked with Warhol and was based in New York. Bisa Butler is an incredible fabric artist – her website linked here. Kehinde Wiley is the first Black artist to paint the official presidential portrait – his website linked here. Hidden Figures is a great movie about the contributions of three black women to NASA. The Tuskegee Airmen is a movie about black pilots who contributed to WWII while representing the United States.
Q: As we commemorate Black History Month, what message would you like to share with colleagues and peers about the importance of cultural diversity and inclusivity?
A: Celebrate diversity and inclusion. Since we are a global company, it allows those barriers to be broken down and allows business conversations to happen that benefits the employees and company. Have a conversation that you wouldn’t normally have with someone. Challenge yourself in 2024. Learn more about black history and culture, and other ethnicities as well.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add or share about your experiences, aspirations, or reflections for Black History Month?
I wanted to share a couple of Black inventors and give them due recognition. Garrett Morgan created the traffic light system. Fredric McKinley Jones invented refrigerated trucks. Mark Dean designed the original IBM PC and developed the first gigahertz chip. Finally, I want to recognize Henrietta Lacks, whose cervical cancer cells were the source of the HeLa cell line, which led to major medical advancements.