David Williams Speaks at CEO@Smith
David Williams may have surprised a room full of undergraduate and graduate
students at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business when
he gave them some advice for the future during a speech on Sept. 19, 2012. Quite
simply, he told them to use a common tool from their elementary school days: the
Williams, CEO of Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, advised students to
construct a Venn Diagram of their abilities, passions and desired salary to
determine what career paths they should pursue. “Where they all intersect is
where you want to be,” he said.
Kicking off the CEO@Smith Speaker Series for the 2012-13 academic year before
a standing-room-only crowd in Frank Auditorium, Williams noted his amazement
that people would sit on the floor to hear him speak.
Advising the audience that the biggest factor for success is perspective,
Williams explained that in the business world, that means having the correct
perspective for a client’s problems and helping them figure out those problems.
It’s important to know the facts, but one also needs to have a point of view, he
said. “Take advantage of the fact that everyone’s perspective is different.”
Williams also discussed five principles he relies on: building relationships,
creating and sustaining the brand, operating with discipline, knowing the
customer, and consistently offering solutions.
He focused on the first three during his presentation.
He said that, in building relationships, one has to be deliberate, and doing
so will pay off. Regarding branding, he cited two important factors: to become
the best one can be at one’s craft, which Williams noted is an ongoing exercise,
and to be a good communicator, translating the craft into something clients can
Operating with discipline is about “making good choices,” Williams said. He
stressed the importance of this in situations when the best decision for the
business may conflict with the best decision for the client, and either of those
decisions (or both) could conflict with what’s best for the business’ partners.
The destination shouldn’t be the primary concern, but, rather, the journey and
the choices made along the way, he said.
Williams has more than 25 years of experience providing advice and counsel to
clients engaged in business transactions or facing critical business events.
During his tenure with Deloitte, Williams has served in various leadership roles
spanning Deloitte FAS’ two major business arms: Forensic & Dispute Services and
Advisory Services. Most recently, he was the national leader of the Advisory
He earned his undergraduate degree in economics from the University of
Pennsylvania and his MBA in finance from the Wharton School at the University of
About the Robert H. Smith School of Business
The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader
in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the
University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate,
full-time and part-time MBA, executive MBA, MS in business, PhD and executive
education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The
school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning
locations in North America and Asia.