Jimmy Choo. The name is synonymous with originality

Judging Asia's 30 Under 30: Jimmy Choo & Sonny Bill Williams On What It Takes To Make The List

Jimmy Choo.
Photo: Lawrence Wang/Wikipedia
Jimmy Choo.

"If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." 

Even Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most accomplished and influential innovators the world has ever known, understands the value of a good mentor.

Finding and fostering natural talent is one of the most important gifts to give to future generations, and that's why the selection of a truly superlative panel of talent-spotters was of the utmost importance going into the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list.

We're talking leaders of their generation, disruptors of industries and household names.

People like Jimmy Choo.

The name is synonymous with originality, youth and class, and the man behind it lives up to that, and then some. Datuk Prof. Jimmy Choo, OBE, as he's formally known, was a judge for the 30 Under 30 Asia Arts list.

"It’s a good learning [experience] for me," he tells Forbes in an interview from his penthouse suite at the Conrad Hotel in Hong Kong. "To look at all the CVs and see what [young entrepreneurs] are all doing. It’s a privilege for me -- it’s a dream come true."

Coming from a lineage of Malaysian shoe cobblers, Choo moved to London in the 1980s to study shoe design. He then opened a shop in an abandoned hospital building (predicting the affectations of the millennial hipster by easily a few decades) and it wasn't long before his bespoke footwear had caught the attention of high-profile names such as the late Princess Diana.

The rest is history. He co-founded his eponymous shoe line, the one and the same that iconic on-screen characters like Carrie Bradshaw would sacrifice rent for in the 1990s, cementing the Jimmy Choo name in the high-fashion zeitgeist.

Despite this success, Choo is adamant that no man is an island; and seeking out guidance and advice from experienced leaders is essential to realizing dreams.

"If you want to do something special and successful, you must ask the people who are also very successful. But make sure you have the right direction, the right people to help you [along the way]. Otherwise you still won’t make it."

Moving from the runway to the rugby pitch, another esteemed name to join our judging panel was Sonny Bill Williams. Williams is a living legend in the sporting world -- widely considered to be one of the world's best rugby players, he's also a competitive boxer. When it came to some of the standout names on the 30 Under 30 Asia Entertainment & Sports, Williams saw serious potential in certain listees.

Like China's Chen Ruolin, who claimed her sixth gold medal at her third Olympic performance at the Rio Games. Chen is one of the most decorated divers of all time, with ten years of professional competition under her belt.

"That’s a remarkable feat to have longevity in the field," says Williams of the 24-year-old Chen. "It’s something to be the best but it's something else to stay the best."

Or the grit demonstrated by Guinness World Record holder Chan Yuen-ting, the first female coach to win a top-flight men's soccer championship. Chan lead her all-male team, Eastern FC, to victory in the Hong Kong Premier League in 2016.

Likely speaking from his own experience on the playing field, Williams says of the record holder: "She must be a great communicator to succeed in a man's world."

Visionaries from some of the world's biggest tech companies also signed on to help decide this year's Consumer Technology list, leaders like Jean Liu, President of Didi Chuxing, China's largest transport-hailing app. Or Hiroshi Mikitani, the chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Japanese leading e-commerce and internet company, who was a leading voice in the Retail & E-Commerce category.

Kai Fu Lee, famous for founding Google China and $1.2 billion venture capital fund Sinovation Ventures, came onboard to give his insights on the Finance & Venture Capital category.

And Solina Chau, recently named by Forbes as one of the most powerful women in the world, weighed in on the Social Entrepreneurs list, bringing her impressive background as executive director of the Li Ka Shing Foundation, the Hong Kong billionaire's $8 billion charitable trust dedicated to funding mainly education and healthcare projects.

Just like the list they helped decide, this year's judging panel reflects the most innovative and forward-thinking minds in Asia today. The bar might be set high by leaders like these, but if anyone will rise to the challenge it's the chosen few who earned their spot on the 30 Under 30 Asia 2017 list.

See Forbes’ full 2017 30 Under 30 Asia list here.

Carla Thomas

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