As part of our #BlackHistoryMonth spotlight series, we’d like to honor Derek Williams, who serves as Director of Learning and Development at arrivia. Click here to read his story.
Tenure at Arrivia: 10 Years
Professional Title: Director of Learning & Development
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black History Month, to me, is a time of reflection, celebration, and recognition of the incredible contributions and resilience of Black Americans throughout history. It’s an opportunity to honor the struggles, triumphs, and cultural richness that have shaped the African American experience. It serves as a reminder of the progress made, the challenges overcome, and the ongoing journey towards equality. This month allows for a collective acknowledgment of the diverse talents, achievements, and strength within the Black community.
Who are your biggest inspirations throughout Black history and why?
For me, Madam C.J. Walker shines as a beacon of inspiration. She carved a niche in history as the first woman to become a self-made millionaire in the United States. Her entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to uplifting Black women with her pioneering beauty and hair care line resonate as a powerful testament to what can be achieved with vision and determination. Her legacy is a compelling reminder of the strength and potential within every Black individual to create paths of success and influence.
What is your advice to young Black professionals who may want to follow your career path?
Be Relentless: Persevere in the face of challenges and setbacks. Your determination will be a key factor in overcoming obstacles.
Confidence in Abilities: Believe in your skills and capabilities. You deserve to be where you are, and your unique perspective is an asset.
Navigate Challenges with Upbringing: Leverage the values instilled in you through your upbringing to navigate difficult situations. Draw strength from your heritage and use it as a source of resilience.
Continuous Learning: Stay curious and committed to continuous learning. Embrace opportunities for growth and seek mentors who can guide you along the way.
Don’t Feel Obligated to Educate: While education is important, you are not obligated to constantly educate others about your struggles. Focus on your goals and let your achievements speak for themselves.
Network and Seek Support: Build a strong professional network and seek support from mentors who understand the unique challenges you may face. Mentorship can provide valuable insights and guidance.