It Pays Off
Williams (B.A., '90) put himself through SFSU working
long hours bagging groceries at a neighborhood Safeway. Today, from
his office at Safeway's corporate headquarters in Pleasanton, he directs
the chain's diversity affairs department and helps women and minority
business owners bring their products and services to the marketplace.
"What better way to develop a neighborhood than to target the supplier
base," he says, adding that by connecting with Safeway, a multi-billion
dollar corporation, small businesses have the opportunity to grow and
bring on new hires.
When SFSU Magazine caught up with Williams he had just returned from
a meeting with a group of farmers in North Carolina. "On trips
like this I'm looking at their produce, trying to see how I can assist
them," he says. "If they're not ready for Safeway, I give
them advice and see if they might be ready for a smaller supermarket
As an undergrad, Williams worked his way up to assistant manager of
a San Francisco Safeway. After graduation, he applied his degree in
economics to a position in the corporation's pricing department. "I
stayed hungry," he says. "I always wanted to make a bigger
impact behind the scenes."
Both Rosa Parks and Jesse Jackson have since presented him with awards
for his work promoting diversity among Safeway's suppliers. Still, Williams
says the personal connections he makes with people every day are the
most rewarding part of his job: "It feels good when you can help
make a difference in someone's life."