itel SPOTlight: Sean Williams
Meet Sean Williams, itel's new EVP of Client Experience
Today, we are sitting down with Sean Williams, from itel Montego Bay, Jamaica. Since joining itel in 2018, he has had an amazing career progression, from Account Director to Senior Vice President of Account Management, and now, his recent promotion to Executive Vice President of Client Experience. What’s the secret to his success? Let’s find out.
Sean, tell us a little about yourself and your background before joining itel.
I'm homegrown in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Born and bred. I left the island for a brief time to attend college in Miami, Florida. But even then, that’s not far from home. I worked in various roles and industries to gain experience. My first job was actually in a movie theater, as an usher. Then, I went into retail and warehousing. That’s where I gained my first exposure to the world of customer service.
If you were given three words to describe yourself, what would those be?
Friendly, humble and team player.
Those are great qualities. I’m interested, though, how did you get started in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)?
One day, I was just having lunch with a friend, and he mentioned that there was this new emerging BPO industry. He urged me to apply at one of the local companies and I was hired as a supervisor of chat services. I then worked my way up to Account Manager and eventually Director of Accounts. Along the way, I gained experience in almost every aspect of operations, from QA (Quality Assurance) to training and Ops Manager.
So, how did you end up joining the itel family?
Well at that time, I knew a colleague at itel, and we had worked together for several years. He called me up, suggested that I meet with Yoni Epstein, itel’s Founding Chairman and CEO. I really liked the way Yoni talked about the company, his vision, and goals, and how he described itel’s family-like culture. Then they offered me an account director position and in 2018, I decided to officially join itel. It was a little intimidating at first, because I was going from my previous company, where I managed one account across several locations, to this new role, where I would assist operations across all client accounts and projects.
Clearly, you’ve thrived since then.
Oh yes, I’ve had an amazing career here and met some great people.
You mentioned itel’s family-like culture. Is that what you love most about working here?
I hope not. That’s not my experience. At itel, leadership is always accessible. And If I'm not helping people, interacting with them, building them up, then there's something missing from my job.
So, tell us more about your new role. What will that involve day-to-day?
Well, I’ll be working alongside our Chief Operating Officer, Scott Sullivan, to elevate organizational performance. I’ll be working with all the different operations teams to help them meet the different client criteria across our portfolio. Day-to-day, this involves liaising with clients, liaising with the Senior Vice Presidents (SVPs) and the Heads of Department (HODs) to try and understand the challenges they face and to work with them to create effective strategies that will enhance performance in key metrics and client deliverables.
Your role directly affects the client experience, doesn’t it?
It does. It’s improving the client experience from within, making it better and better. We want our clients to continue thinking of itel as their CX partner of choice. You see, that’s our ultimate goal. We don’t want clients to think of us as mere service providers. We are true partners, and we want to show them that we can benefit their business not just externally, by serving their customers, but we can also strategize ways to benefit them internally. This could be finding new efficiencies or helping them to digitize their operations. We want to them to think of us as part of their business and not just an extension of their business.
Sounds like you’re very passionate about your new role. What else makes you the perfect fit?
I think it’s because of my experience working in different locations, and with different types of verticals along the way. Because I've been involved with tech support, finance, customer service, retail, I have so many years of knowledge working in different fields. I think I can take what I’ve learned and apply that to itel, and to how we're evolving.
Has your depth of experience helped you tackle any challenges along the way? What’s the most difficult task you’ve had to overcome?
I think the hardest part of my career was COVID. I mean, it was challenging for everyone. But it was so heartbreaking, that I couldn’t walk among our people every day. I look forward to being out there on the production floors, working with the teams, seeing folks face to face, getting them excited, motivating them. I consider myself a people person. That’s what I look forward to each day. And when we had to adapt to a way of working that we haven't done before, with work-at-home… It was so different. It’s not a concept that many Jamaicans were familiar with, and at first, it was a challenge getting them on board. Then we had to pivot our whole operations in a matter of weeks.
But you overcame it, right?
Yes. Turns out, it's a delivery model we became rather good at. It helped that we already had some work-at-home operations in the U.S., but we had to learn how to roll that out in the Caribbean on a larger scale and learn how to do it properly, effectively, and securely. Nowadays, work-at-home is a permanent fixture at itel and broadens what we can offer clients. And if anything like the pandemic happens again, we can use work-at-home to ensure business continuity for our clients.
That kind of resilience is incredible. So, how do you keep yourself motivated, even in times like that?
By always keeping my eye on the goal. We should always have overarching goals for ourselves, but daily ones too. And no matter the challenge, we must figure out a way to pull the team together to achieve that goal. It’s all about regrouping after a fall and trying again. But it also takes a team to remain motivated. Motivation is not just a one-person thing. The people that are around you have to help you to get there. Because if you're not pulling together, you're not going to move forward. And stagnancy leads to failure.
Sounds like words of wisdom and you’ve certainly proven that motivation and hard work can go a long way. What would you say to someone just starting out who may hope to reach the leadership level, like you?
Take the time to learn. We're a growing industry, but growth doesn't come overnight. Take time to understand and learn from your peers. That’s how you move forward. A lot of times we get disgruntled because of how long it takes to reach the next step. But unless you take the time to thoroughly learn each role, and all the skills needed, how can you be prepared to take it to the next level. But that’s the beauty of itel. It's not just a side job. It's a career. It can lead to remarkable things if you have the dedication and patience. And from my example, you see where that career can take you.
Very inspirational. I think that will resonate with a lot of itelers. Back to you though. What are your hopes for itel’s future? What goals would you like to help the company reach?
I want us to not just be the Employer of Choice in the Caribbean, but an Employer of Choice globally. I would like to see us move into the European forum and add new locations to our footprint.
That’s quite ambitious. I love it. But I also want to know more about your life outside work. What do you enjoy most about living in Jamaica?
I love the balance between work and play. You get the hustle and bustle of being at work during working hours, and then afterwards, the effortless way of relaxing and just enjoying life. I find that comes a lot easier living on such a beautiful island. You leave work and you see the beaches and the water, and you're already on vacation.
What matters most to you, besides work?
Well, I’m a single father and I have one daughter. She’s twenty years old and is currently attending college in Atlanta, though she’s looking at some universities in Canada. My world really revolves around her. She’s the source of my happiness, my enjoyment in life. The satisfaction I get watching her grow and move to other levels… It’s indescribable.
Do you have any hobbies or favorite pastimes?
Oh yes. I like being outdoors, and I enjoy cycling. I’m a big sports fan, and an avid motorsports fan. I used to take part in motorsports rallies.
You mean you raced?
Yes, I did. I loved it! But these days, I mostly help organize and manage events. I tell myself I'm giving back.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
Okay, I must confess, I like animated movies and I’m sort of a Disney enthusiast. Disney World is one of my favorite places to visit and I’ve watched all the Disney movies.
No doubt it helped being a single dad with a daughter. I’m sure you watched many Disney movies together, over the years.
(Laughs) Yes, we did.
Well, Sean, thank you so much for joining us today. We greatly enjoyed getting to know you as we celebrate your amazing career journey. Again, congratulations on your new promotion! I’m sure all the itel family wishes you the best of luck in your new role, and I’m certain you will play a key part in itel’s growth and continued success.
If you would like to join the itel family or would like to learn more about itel’s culture, people or inspiring workplaces, visit our Careers Page!