The dynamic career of John Williams | Capital Group

Life at Capital Group

John Williams

The dynamic career of John Williams

Imagine getting up at 3:45 each morning to exercise at the gym before starting your workday at 6:30. Then putting in a full day on the job, before leaving at 3:30 to zoom home and prepare for four hours of college classes that night…and then spending the weekend studying and writing papers—plus caring for your almost-grown-but-still-at-home beloved son.

For three years, this was the very busy life of John Williams, a technology support associate in Los Angeles. We talked with John recently about his career path at Capital Group and what he’s learned about personal development along the way.

How did you hear about Capital Group?

In 1997, I was working in Los Angeles as an apprentice in refrigeration—and hoping to become a journeyman. I got hurt in an accident at a grocery store, however, and had to take a break. While I was recovering at home I got bored and contacted a placement agency. The first job they sent me on was at Capital in the distribution center in Brea. I loved it right away! I stuffed envelopes, sent out fund literature and prospectuses, and even rode the forklift.

I didn’t have my college degree yet; I’d stopped going to school to take care of my son who was barely one. At the time, I looked at my role at Capital as just a job. It was a great job, but I wasn’t looking at it as a career.

When did you become a full-time associate?

 After working as a contractor for three months, I found out Capital was hiring. My manager Candance Pilgrim said “You’re doing a great job and we’d like to hire you.” I needed to give it some thought, especially since this was different from my plan to become a journeyman. But in refrigeration I worked in the cold and rain, and it was strenuous. Here, I was inside the warehouse—and I loved the people I was working with. So I said yes and became a full-time associate in July 1998.

Congratulations! What inspired you to make your next career move?

I worked in the distribution center for about four years. One day, my manager Josie Cortez urged me to think about what I’d want to do next and we started having regular career conversations. A position opened up in the mail room—Josie pointed out that it would allow me to network and become familiar with different business groups at Capital during the daily mail delivery. This interested me, so I interviewed and I got the position. I was there—and then in Brea’s print room—for about three-to-four years.

How did you continue to build your network?

I used to love hosting happy hours. I’d create invitations using the scrap paper left over in the print room and then pass them around as I distributed the mail. I’d get big turnouts. To this day, it’s still something I do in Los Angeles. People look forward to it! It allows for networking, especially for people who are new to Capital and looking for a way to meet others and make connections.

What grabbed your interest next?

I shared with my manager at the time that I’d love to get into desktop support. I’d taken several computer classes in junior college and knew that world interested me. I heard from one of the desktop support associates about a major project to switch out associates’ big CRT monitors to flat-screens. My manager had conversations with a manager in that group and we all decided I could support the project as an intern.

How did it go?

Once I had my foot in the door, I just started learning as much as I could. I’ve seen over time that people don’t mind teaching and training you, so long as you don’t keep asking the same questions. So, during the internship, I always took notes—and I could tell my colleagues liked that. And I picked things up quickly! I lived in computers. I’d volunteer for every little task and I learned, learned, learned. What was originally a three-month internship became six and then nine. The feedback was ‘This guy knows a lot and he’s great! He can hold his own with the team.’ That was really satisfying.

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“I’d volunteer for every little task and I learned, learned, learned.”

- John Williams

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Eventually, the head of the group approved me being hired full-time. So, I’ve been a technology support associate for about seven years now. I started in Brea, moved to Irvine, and then transferred to Los Angeles about four years ago.

I’ve heard that you have a “side” gig at Capital as a tour guide. Do tell!

I give tours to both service associates when they visit Los Angeles, as well as financial advisors. I’ve been doing it for about two months. I’m an extrovert and love to talk, but being a tour guide is a little bit out of my comfort zone. I knew, though, that I wanted to improve my skills talking in front of people and presenting, so I went for it. I still get the butterflies sometimes, but I enjoy it.

Any career advice for those looking to make a move?

I think it’s really important to do the legwork on your own. You have to develop yourself. Have talks with your manager—they are definitely there to help and guide you. But ultimately, you have to do the research, figure out what tools you need, and show the enthusiasm. And you have to do some networking so folks know you’re interested in opportunities when they come up.

John Williams

What’s been the best part of your career so far?

Getting to where I am now has been pretty satisfying, especially without my college degree—which I finally got last year.

I left college when I did because I really wanted to be in my son’s life. I was head coach for his basketball, football and baseball teams. Honestly, that taught me more than school in a lot of ways! I had to deal with all those kids and their parents. I learned leadership skills and how to deal with different personalities. What an education!

John Williams

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John’s career advice

  • Do the legwork.
  • Have regular career conversations with your manager.
  • Take notes.
  • Show enthusiasm!
  • Be willing to expand your skills beyond your comfort zone.
  • Network whenever you can.

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