West Augustine Success: Carlos Hayward Williams "Just Be Great, Be Excellent."

"Never lose sight. Anything is possible, if they set their mind and intention to it, they can achieve it," says Carlos Hayward Williams, when asked to speak to the young people in West Augustine. "Never lose sight, there is so much to the world beyond the four walls that they see, and so they should just explore and imagine as much as possible."

Williams is a long way from home. He is the Vice President of Human Resources for Global Operations and Co-Head of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity at Tapestry in New York, but he grew up in West Augustine, where he attended The Webster School, R.J. Murray Middle School and St. Augustine High School.

Williams graduated from St. Augustine High School in 1998, after which he attended Clark Atlanta University, where he received a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Media Arts/Communications. 

Through hard work and an exemplary work ethic, Williams steadily moved himself into a successful career in human resources, starting out as a HR generalist at the Georgia Department of Human Services.

A Bachelor's degree was just the beginning of Wiliams' higher education. He also holds a Master's degree in Human Resources Administration from Central Michigan University, and he attended the Executive Leadership Program at the prestigious Wharton School in Pennsylvania.

Human resources came into focus as a career "during graduate school," says Williams. "I was a recruiter for the Georgia Department of Human Resources. I fell in love with recruiting, and then eventually I expanded to being more so of a HR business partner, where I can work with leaders and influence how we grow organizations to make them more effective."

Williams' title comes with a big responsibility. When asked about his day to day as a VP of Human Resources, Williams explains, "essentially, I am looking at organizations within my world, and I am spending my day designing organizations. Meaning how do I make organizations more effective and efficient, whether that is creating new departments, removing departments or merging departments. Then in addition to that I am looking at talent and people. Who can I bring into the organization, who can we internally enhance or grow within the organization in order to grow skill sets or for the betterment of the organization? A lot of my day to day is really assessing the organization and thinking about effectiveness and efficiencies for the organization, ensuring that we have talent in the right places, in the right jobs working with our companies' strategies."

"Internships are critically important," says Williams, when asked what class or extracurricular activities in high school or college have benefitted him the most in his career. He explains that he initially thought about going to law school, but that after interning at law firms, he concluded that he would get bored in the long run, if he chose that career path. 

"Internships give you experience," he says. "When you start thinking about applying to colleges, they like to see students that are well rounded, so in addition to having decent grades, you want to show whether you have a job after school or extracurricular activities, those are the things that speak to not only companies but also to colleges to say this is a well-rounded person, who is not just singularly focused. So that helps, and not only internships, but during college and high school, I had a part-time job throughout, and that also helped me get a sense of accountability and responsibility that has never left me in my work now."

SAHS Junior Executive Board 1996/1997
St. Augustine High School Junior Executive Board 1996/1997 - Carlos Hayward Williams featured in the middle.

West Augustine Success Feature: Carlos Hayward Williams

What elementary, middle and high school did you attend? 

Webster Elementary, Murray Middle and St. Augustine High (c/o 98).

Please describe your position and what it entails:

Strategic HR partner, leading and implementing people and organization strategies to enable commercial priorities. In my role as Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Leader responsibility for continuing to shape and deliver on Tapestry’s equity, inclusion and diversity strategy. 

Will you share about what it means for you to be Co-Head of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity for Tapestry? 

Serve as a change agent, consultant, thought-leader, influencer & SME on EI&D and social impact related issues. 

What is your favorite part of working in HR? 

Connecting with people and helping them see their potential.

What made you choose a career in human resources? 

I liked the thought of designing and organizing organizations in order to make them more efficient and effective. 

Can you describe a little bit about your experience from being a part of the Wharton Executive Leadership program, what made you attend this program, how did it fit into your career etc.? 

I was selected by The Estee Lauder Companies to attend the program as a high potential executive. It helped further develop my business acumen. 

You are at the top of your field. Do you ever look back at where you came from and think about the contrasts? 

I often look back and see the contrasts; but I also see how those contrasts have aided in my success. Grit and resilience that’s needed in my role. 

What advice would you give to West Augustine students wondering how to find success outside of St. Augustine after graduating from high school? 

Consider West Augustine as your roots; but know the world is your oyster and you can find tremendous success outside of West Augustine. 

Have you had any mentors in your life, who inspired you or helped push you forward? 

Yes, I have, and they’ve always served as sounding boards and helping me see a different perspective -also helping to push me out of my comfort zone. 

Are there any events, persons or decisions in your life, which helped catapult you toward your success?  

My mother always served as a driving force helping me to believe I could achieve anything I set my mind and intentions towards.

When you were in high school, what dreams or goals did you have for your future? 

To venture out and see the world.

Did any of these come true for you? 

Yes, 100x over.


What kind of student were you in high school? 

Introvert, hard working, worked during my 4 years in high school. Fast food or retail, student government.


Why did you choose to go out of state for college? 

To explore the world outside of Florida and Atlanta to me was the black mecca. 

How did going out of state for college influence your life? 

Showed me there was more to life than what I was used to seeing. 

Do you have any tips or advice for our students in college or applying to college? 

Focus not only on grades; but extracurricular activities, colleges like to see well-rounded students. 

Your mom, Doris Sheppard, never hesitates to come out and help in the community or to use her voice to make West Augustine better.  Has her activism and willingness to help others influenced you in any way? 

Yes, my mother has always been vocal and a leader, which in many ways set my course for leaning in as a leader and understanding that what I have to give and lend to the world is valid and needed.


As a successful black man in today's evolving, but still very unequal world, do you have any advice specifically to young black men and/or women on how to overcome the biases and obstacles they face, as they try to move up and forward in their chosen fields? 

Just be great, be excellent. And that beats any of the icms –racism, sexism etc. Focus on your growth and talent and just be the best you can be and know that you belong in any room that you are in. 

You were a mentor at the All Stars Project. How do you think successful black men and women can use their success to help others? 

Find where your passion resides and then leverage that to help others. 

As a black man in the corporate world, what has been your number one obstacle, and how have you overcome it/tackled it? 

Getting out of my own head. I am my greatest obstacle and competition. 

Do you have a special memory (or memories) from growing up in West Augustine? 

Great sense of community 

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