Business Boy Wonder & Advisor William Choi
During his time as an entrepreneur, William Choi learned from experience that even people with a high degree of business acumen still need a “right-hand man” to give them trusted advice that will take their companies to the next level. With that realization, William, 32, founded CB Williams Business Advisors Group, which provides firms with the wise counsel they need to be successful. He assists businesses that include start-ups, companies in distress, and firms that want to expand. Whether the company needs help executing a strategy internationally or changing something within the firm itself, William’s consultancy is there to meet clients’ needs. To learn more about William, his consulting firm, and the personal travels that have taken him from Damascus to North Korea, check out this week’s Young & Professional Profile.
CB Williams BusinessAdvisors Group
William B. Choi
Founder & Managing Partner
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Seoul, South Korea
University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada
Seoul, S. Korea
MBA, International Management
Graduate School of Business & Commerce, Research Fellow
CB Williams Business Advisors Group
About the company
Founded in 2004 due to the gap between independent consultants and global consulting firms, CB Williams Business Advisors Group identified the desperate need for flexible services between these two worlds. Companies of all sizes in need of help and advice had only “packaged” options rather than purely strategic ones that fulfilled their specific needs, for a lean customized advisory. On one hand, SME’s (Small-Medium Size Enterprises) always longed for a rich network of resources and wise counsel to help them. On the other, Fortune 500 companies incurred high costs to access such services in order to retain abundant expert advice and excellence in a fiercely competitive global economy. CB Williams was born to achieve the innovative bridge business owners and companies have longed for. We tap into the client’s greatest potential identifying innovative growth towards change in the market place, whether executing transnational strategies in the global arena or change within the organization itself.
We are versatile, and every client is our priority. Our team of 4000 top experts with impeccable track records of success with Fortune 500 companies as well as SMEs in over 18 countries, are at our clients’ service. We belong to the new generation – young, smart, vibrant, brimming with energy, passion, and vision, shaping our industry in a changing world for the new millennium. With expertise in every industry spanning every business type imaginable, we bring truly valuable results equating excellence for our clients with integrity and confidence. This is the New World – the innovation and forward thinking of consulting modernity.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
I am on the road quite a bit, moving from client site to client. Duties vary from impementing and advising on strategic processes with the CEO and/or entrepreneur, to working with top level management and managing my team of consultants on a project. Many times I help the client negotiate their positioning with third parties such as suppliers, partners, banks, investors or existing interested parties. The most exciting days are when complicated situations arise and it is imperative to have it fixed in a short period of time.
Most notable milestones
- Helped take a small local company with raw production to a global brand resulting in significant value-add, penetrating brand new markets, winning a prestigious international award and being the first in the country’s history.
- Led the strategic team of a Fortune 500 company gain significant market positioning in a new market.
- Signficantly decreased cost of production to an SME and increased its output by 24% within 6 months.
- Differentiated a company’s reputation in a fiercely competitive industry by introducing new products not yet introduced to the client’s specific market, long before being discovered by a competitor.
- Negotiated the only accepted win-win proposal for commercial activity and industry development between high level government, the communities and towns being affected, and the business.
- Helped an ailing but brilliant internet company clean up its internal systems and management within a matter of months. Now it is in excellent position to aggressively launch taking social networking to another level.
- Negotiated and structured successful production contract for a client “on the brink” with one of the largest food manufacturers and distributors in the world.
- Managed and conceptualized from scratch the first and only production line of its type in the world, catapulting the company to instant unique positioning gaining an innovative reputation within it’s own industry.
What’s the niche?
Provide top level service with top level results. There are only two types of consultants in our world – the independent and the multinational. Independents lack strategic high profile resources and people, and prominent multinational firms have incredible overhead making smart, yet inexperienced MBA’s advise the direction of multimillion dollar companies. We are the best of both worlds, providing the ideal of which clients expect. The model implemented will hopefully change the face or make a significant impact that will define consulting over time as we expand into other countries.
We are also on call 24/7. We do not limit ourselves in servicing our client. Especially for entrepreneurs and leaders of organizations, we are their most trusted advisor, and the best ideas and strategic minds arise early in the morning, in the evening, or over the weekend. Entrepreneurs don’t have time to come up with their most brilliant ideas during the fast pace of the day. Our culture is molded much to identify with the heart of the entrepeneur, aligning our world very much with theirs. Because there are only 24 hours in a day, we must choose our clients just as they choose us.
What’s the biggest challenge?
On the merchant banking side, the biggest challenge is to find the “home run” start-up company winners. The idea and business model would be great, but there are skeletons in the closet that are not identified until after the fact and it would take us longer to achieve the goals outlined in the business plan than we would have normally expected. There is no true and effective criteria for measuring a company’s potential growth except for using my own instincts. We have worked vey hard to create specific tools to help us make our “home-run” decisions.
What’s in store for the future?
We plan on opening offices in Seoul, South Korea, and the US. We also plan on offering real business professional programs to help employees and executives who are lacking in their performance due to alcoholism or other areas of “addiction” in the work place. The corporate world believes that personal and business life remain separate. The reality is, there is no separation of the two no matter how a business culture tries to cut it. There are tons of programs for marketing, sales, and “how tos” for business, whereas we offer a real comprehensive confidential program that pertains to life and that is effective and simple, increasing work performance signficantly whereby respecting the individual and attacking the roots of the problem to gain back their freedom and excitement when they first came on the job. There is no bridge that recognizes the gap of this very serious problem that is never talked about either because of embarrassment or pride, resulting in having developed a professional program to address it without disturbing the reputation of the employees or the company.
Best way to keep a competitive edge
There is always a need or demand in the marketplace, you just need to exploit it, and add SIGNIFICANT value or experience.
Guiding principle in life
Give hope to people and everyone around you.
Yardstick of success
As long as I am moving forward with action, I am always succeeding. There is no such thing as failure, mistakes, or delays, they are only events, it is not an identity.
Goal yet to be achieved
Start an academic and arts scholarship fund for orphaned kids in Korea, and expand it in orphanages across the globe.
Best practical advice
This morning is gone. I can never reclaim it. The future must be exciting and unknowing. Every minute must add value, whatever it is. Be yourself, have fun, and don’t sweat the small stuff. The minute behind you is gone, the minute before you awaits.
Supportive words from a family member or friend on your venture
You will be succesful.
Mentor(s) and why?
Mr. Ahn Kyung-Tae, the CEO of PricewaterhouseCoopers Korea. He believed in me from day one and took me under his wing, it was his inspiration that catapulted my potential. Mr. John Blackmore, Headmaster of St. George’s School when I was in junior high. Plain and simple, he trusted me that no matter what, I’d make the right decisions and learn from my mistakes. He taught me valuable lessons for life not through lecture, but through events, and powerful stories he would tell me. Stories that remain vivid in my mind, and have had a considerable impact on the way I conduct business.
What motivated you to get started?
During my journey as an entrepreneur, I learned, not only from my faith, but also from business dealings that no matter how bright a person may be, one always needs a right hand man “to take it to the next level”. Perhaps I had been lucky in business, but I longed for a trusted advisor. None were to be found, when I concluded that the reason why most entrepreneurs fail in business, rather than succeed, is because of this lack of advice.
From the core of my entrepreneurial experience, CB Williams Business Advisors Group fills this need, and today we have helped many start-up, distressed, and companies on the verge of expansion, succeed and experience not just incremental increases, but dramatic growth.
Like best about what you do?
Span all industries. The versatility of my work and being able to help any business owner’s challenge in whatever situation, resulting in powerful growth and change.
Like least about what you do?
I can’t think of anything right now, however, best to ask me again in a couple of months!
At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The next Pavarotti (seriously!), having won several awards in junior arias.
What was your first job?
Sweeping the floors and grunt work at the family’s manufacturing plant.
Biggest pastime outside of work
Music and Jazz. I loved playing my tenor saxophone in the big band and being in one.
Person most interested in meeting and why?
The quiet people who have made a difference in other’s peoples lives, but we never hear about.
Leader in business most interested in meeting and why?
The quiet leaders who have made a difference to society we don’t hear about.
Three interesting facts about yourself
- I want to smile and laugh as much as possible.
- I love travelling by backpack and without a fixed schedule.
- Inviting people over to my place for parties and events.
Three characteristics that describe you
Three greatest passions
- To make a positive difference in someone’s life.
The Book of Proverbs
Orphanages. I want to help raise up a generation of talented men and women who will give hope and be a role model for the orphans of the next generation.
You have traveled to many places around the world. How did traveling affect you?
90% of the people in this world are good.
What was your most memorable experience from your travels?
Dahab, Mt. Sinai sunrise, Pyramids of Giza, Siwa Oasis, Alexandria, Petra, sleeping under the stars in The Wadi Rum, celebration in Aleppo, Damascus, the rainbow town of Hoi-An, Saigon, secluded beaches of Vietnam, Turkey, and Greece. The seven churches of Revelation, Paris, Monaco, Rome, Interlaken, Cinque Terre, Los Cabos, Bali, North Korea as NGO, Seoul, Korea.
In your opinion, what does it mean to be an entrepreneur?
Being the best of who you are.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Would like to say hi to my mom and dad.
Who would you like to be contacted by?
A company that is a startup, in distress, or seeking some advice and input, we’d love to hear from you. I really enjoy interacting with other young, smart, and driven entrepreneurs who want to make a positive difference in the world.
Interview by Candice Vance
Introduction by Preeti Aroon
Edited by Sabine Alam