Printer Friendly

ENTREPRENEUR HAS GRITTY RISE TO THE TOP.

Byline: Sonia Giordani Daily News Staff Writer

Seventeen years ago, Ella Williams took the biggest chance of her life and invested every penny of her savings into a dream.

A 40-year-old single mom with two adolescent girls to raise, Williams took out a $65,000 mortgage on her home. And while some waited for her vision to evaporate into thin air, she focused on the task and made her dream come true.

``I think success is about perseverance and tenacity - it's really that simple,'' said Williams, now the 57-year-old founding CEO and president of Aegir Systems. Her Oxnard-based company with 75 full-time employees has contracted its computer and engineering services with the likes of the United States Navy and the country's Department of Transportation.

``It took me three years to get my first contract with the U.S. Navy. I was someone they had never dealt with, and I had to convince them that my word was my bond,'' she said.

Williams will be the featured speaker at tonight's Preus-Brandt Forum at California Lutheran University. Part of the university's annual Black History Month speakers series, Williams will speak about her life and her recipe for success.

Over the past 17 years, Williams' vision and perseverance have earned her recognition around the country with such honors as the Minority Business Enterprise of the Year in December, AT&T's 1993 Entrepreneur of the Year as well as the Small Business Administration's Woman of Enterprise Award.

In the eyes of many, Ella Williams beat the odds - over and over again. The third daughter of 12 kids, she was born in Jacksonville, Texas, as Ella Anderson. She started working at the age of 13 picking cotton for minimum wage to buy school books and clothes.

When her family moved to Southern California, Williams paid her way through two years of college until the bills grew too large. She took jobs as a department store clerk and a delivery room nurse's aid. When times got tough, she scrounged trash bins for aluminum cans to buy an extra carton of milk for her daughters.

``I was never too proud to do that. I was trying to start a company and everything I owned was wrapped up in that dream,'' she said. ``Those few cents could make a tremendous difference in putting gas in the car or buying some food.''

Though she never completed her undergraduate degree, Williams continued to take courses at local colleges. After her first marriage ended, Williams said she usually attended classes with her youngest daughter in tow.

The turning point came while she was still in her early 20s.

``I enrolled in the business technology division at the local city college. That's where I realized that computers were going to be really hot and I was going to be part of that,'' she said.

Taking a job as a computer key punch operator with Hughes Aircraft, Williams worked her way up the corporate ladder over 13 years until landing a position as an assistant accountant with the company's finance department.

``Over the years, I learned a lot and met a lot of people,'' she said.

When she heard about the Small Business Administration's call for minority business people interested in breaking into hard-to-enter fields, Williams decided to take the risk.

``To succeed, you really have to believe you can do it,'' she said. ``And when someone gives you an opportunity, you can't be mediocre.''

Williams will speak from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. today at California Lutheran University.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

PHOTO (Color) Ella Williams, CEO of Aegir Systems, will speak at a forum tonight.

Myung J. Chun/Daily News
COPYRIGHT 1998 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1998, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 17, 1998
Words:611
Previous Article:BRIEFLY : BULLDOZER FALLS OFF TRUCK, KILLS MOTORIST.
Next Article:HAIL TO THE CHIEFS; PRESIDENTS GET THEIR DAY AT REAGAN LIBRARY.


Related Articles
Glitches trouble Hubble's new camera.
Like It Is.
Miracles of Mentoring: The Joy of Investing in Our Future.
WHEN IT'S A MAN'S JOB, SEND JOHN FOGERTY.
BUSINESS NOTES DISTRIBUTION DEAL EXTENDED FOR FIRMS.
ALLIANCE HONORS VALLEY'S BEST.
BEAT GOES ON FOR '60S COUNTRY-ROCK PIONEER.
JUSTICE SYSTEM PREVAILS IN `TWELVE ANGRY MEN' : THE FACTS.
MONEY, RAYE SET TO PLAY AT FESTIVAL.
Daniel Rose named 'Entrepreneur of the Year'.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters