Irving Williams credits two things for his rise from call center agent to site director at the SYKES Malvern call center: The first is that he is good at call center work. “When I started I found out that I was really good in call center life, talking to people and helping people out.”
The other is his military training. Shortly after starting at SYKES in 2009, Irving enlisted in the Navy Reserves. “When I came back from the military, everything that I had learned – leadership training, structure, how to be a better man – all that really allowed me to flourish when I got back to the call center.”
Of course, the civilian workforce requires a different approach than the command and control structure common to military organizations, and Irving had to adapt. He credits his SYKES management with helping him make the change. “I had to transition back to the civilian side of things and be more open, more people-oriented, more inspirational and influential and getting people to buy-in to what you want to have happen. And I learned all of that from SYKES, from leaders I reported to. And if it wasn’t for them it would have been a longer road to get to where I am today.”
Not that working with people doesn’t come naturally to him. As site director, he’s responsible for managing the site’s daily operations involving hundreds of people. The challenge of working with a large group doesn’t phase him. “I love my people. I love what I do. I love development. I love mentoring folks around the site. That all comes easy to me because it’s a passion of mine. Because I want to help people grow. I want to know what your personal career aspirations are, and I want to help you with that. I want to help take you from where you are to where you could be.”
Even as a busy site director, Irving continues to serve in the Navy Reserves, with duty one weekend a month and training every year for two-to-four weeks in Bahrain. In the reserves he’s a hospital corpsman. Irving is continuing a family tradition, having had a brother in the Marines, one in the Coast Guard and great grandfathers in the Army.
Proud of his military service and heritage, he recognizes it in others as well. “I try to do a good job recognizing the veterans in my center. Every year for Memorial Day I typically do something for them, bring them barbeque, get them some time off the phones or put a flag at their desks.”
It’s his way to help remind people what Memorial Day is about. “The picnics, the family functions, the get-togethers, that’s all fine and dandy, but what’s behind all that? I want people to be recognized for what they’ve done, for what they’ve put on the line, for what they’ve done for their country.”