For 10 years or more, Michael Fok Sze-chai had been thinking of starting his own business, but it was only in 2003 that the various pieces of the jigsaw finally fell into place. As a Canadian qualified accountant with Big Four training and extensive commercial sector experience, Mr Fok already knew all he needed to about the financial side of running a company. He also had an impressive list of contacts, ideas aplenty, and the personal determination to work as hard as necessary to make things happen. For one reason or another, though, it had never seemed the right time to take the plunge. Firstly, there was the economic downturn; then concerns about surrendering a steady income, or having to grapple with the mysteries of such things as sales and marketing held him back. All that changed, however, on a day Mr Fok can almost pinpoint on the calendar. It was after a group discussion with his Richard Ivey EMBA study team, in which they had thrashed out a business plan and finalised revenue models for a possible start-up company. This exercise was one of the course's functional projects, designed to give each participant the chance to tackle unfamiliar business problems and gain an all-round perspective of what it takes to conclude a deal and run a successful enterprise. 'We had to put together the plan, the numbers, and present it to the professor,' Mr Fok said. 'At that point, I had learned about HR, marketing and international business through case studies, and I knew how to do all the spreadsheets. Right after the session with the finance professor, I thought 'wow I can really do this for myself as well'.' With a new surge of courage and confidence, Mr Fok was ready to set up his own firm - M & Davich Executive Recruitment - focusing on mid-level to senior finance, accounting and investment banking professionals. He dipped into his savings, shared an office for a while, and reckoned on six months to start generating a regular cash flow. Fortunately, it didn't take that long. Like any entrepreneur, one of his first acts had been to get on the phone to fix up a few lunches and, at one with a former colleague, the 'magic moment' occurred. Her department needed a new financial controller, Mr Fok placed a suitable candidate, and since then he hasn't looked back.