A Durham-Loving Mother of 6 Who Cherishes Life's Full-Circle Journeys
Beverly Williams is the Business Operations Manager at CrossComm. She’s worked at CrossComm for the past seven years—making her the third-longest employee. When she joined the team, after 17 years as a work-from-home entrepreneur, it brought her back to Downtown Durham—where she first began her career. In my conversation with Beverly, it quickly became apparent that these full-circle moments and connections to the past have been an ever-present and meaningful part of her journey.
I’ve lived in North Carolina since I was seven years old. I was a transplant from upstate New York as part of the first wave of technology happening here in North Carolina; my father worked for Northern Telecom, which later became Nortel. So growing up, I lived north of Durham in Granville County, where Northern Telecom had its first office here. After high school, I enrolled at Durham Tech for a paralegal technology program. While doing that in the evenings, I had a couple of full-time jobs around Durham. I worked for Durham City Schools in several different departments downtown and I fell in love with downtown Durham. And I'm still in love with downtown Durham. It wasn't anything like it is today because this was in 1988 and 89, but I still fell in love.
I love the history of Durham—not that it's all bright and sunny. Durham has its challenges. But I love Durham with all of its flaws and I feel that, now, Durham is beginning to become aware of its flaws and people are actually seeking to fix them.
I love the energy of the city—the fact that, even though it’s a downtown area, it still feels like the roots and the beginnings, when it was just a train station and farmers would bring their tobacco down here. There's still that grit and those country roots, even though it is a small Southern city.
I had moved into a new neighborhood and took my kids to the playground where I met the CTO Sean’s wife. As moms do, we started chatting while the kids played and I found out that her husband's company was looking for a part-time bookkeeper, which was in my wheelhouse. The relationship developed from there and I went through the interview process and got the job.
My role grew as my children grew and I was able to spend more time in the office. Now it encompasses administrative support to the production management team and the executive team, and everything involving human resources—from interviewing, to benefits, to creating processes and systems for hiring, onboarding, and employee improvement.
We've always been somewhere in downtown Durham, which feels very full-circle to me. When I joined CrossComm, we were over on Church Street in a space that is now occupied by a virtual reality arcade called Augmentality Labs—which also feels very full circle because we recently held our winter summit team-building activity there. But when I joined the company, the developers all sat upstairs in two long rows that faced each other, with a window at one end. We didn't have standing desks, we had Ikea desks. I used to come in for 2 ½ to 3 hours of the day and do the bookkeeping. We moved from there to Washington Street, across from the original Durham Bulls ballpark. Eventually, we came here to the American Underground @Main building on the first day it opened.
I think it has been a huge part of the reason we've been able to grow. It also means a lot to me personally—the very reasons why I fell in love with Durham are why I am in love with this community. It represents the desire to be better. To address issues instead of pretending they don't exist. To bring them right out and say, “We need more women in Tech. We need more diversity. We need more people of color leading companies. What can we all do to make this better?” And when you work in a place with that kind of forward-looking energy and open-minded thinking, it just permeates the atmosphere and it makes you feel like anything is possible.
CrossComm is fun. And I don’t mean that we don’t work hard. We do, but we have fun while we’re doing it. Everybody is bringing their best selves to work every day and trying to contribute on both a technical and personal level to the team; there is a spirit of cooperation and collaboration. Even with different personalities and styles of communication, the goal that everyone is reaching towards is the same, and people are trying to reach it through collaboration rather than competitiveness.
I love the pesticide and herbicide produce compliance project because, to take something as sophisticated as building an app and apply it to agriculture—I mean, what is more historical than agriculture? My grandfather was a farmer; I've got a lot of agriculture in my background, growing up on my grandparent's farm during the summer. When computers first came out, nobody thought they would have a thing in the world to do with farming. But they do. It just shows me how technology can positively impact every single area of our lives. And to hear that people who have specific pain points can be helped by something that we created is fascinating to me and really opens up my thoughts to what else we can do to make the world a better place.
It's one of Don's highest priorities. He wants to do meaningful work that makes the world a better place—even if that means making one group of people's world better at a time. And he will not take work that he feels is not morally or ethically sound. Technology is a tool—just like a hammer. You can use a hammer to build a house or use a hammer to tear something up and destroy it. Don will not take projects that he doesn't feel provide some value to society.
I am one of those people that believes nothing in your life is wasted unless you choose to waste it. Life is always preparing you for what’s coming next if you're paying attention. So having a large family and being a work-from-home mom, I learned to juggle multiple environments and responsibilities. With six children, learning how to get along with and understand six different personalities, and how they interact with each other, has helped me in the role I have now. I would have to say home life is more chaotic because, at least here, everybody is an adult (most of the time). But I've taken the lessons from that chaos and applied them here at CrossComm.
I’m so comfortable here. I don't dread coming to work; I look forward to it. Even during times when the workload is heavy or there are challenges that have to be faced, I feel like I’m coming into a supportive environment where we will work together and find the solution. I feel like we keep getting better as a team. I feel like CrossComm is stronger than it has ever been, and I’m excited! I’m excited about where CrossComm is going and where it can go. And I want to be with this team as we go there.