From student to entrepreneur, Alvin Chang '01 has come full circle as he proudly introduces the headquarters of his multimillion dollar company, Cerpass Technology Corporation to his alma mater.
September 25, 2014
From student to entrepreneur, Alvin Chang ’01 has come full circle as he proudly introduces the headquarters of his multimillion dollar company, Cerpass Technology Corporation to his alma mater.
Alvin Chang ’01, the University of La Verne’s newest and first international trustee, is CEO and co-founder of Cerpass Technology Corporation, a leader in the world of electronic certifications. Cerpass was founded in 2003 and employs more than 240 engineers, sales, technical and administrative staff. Headquartered near Taipei, Taiwan, the company also has offices/labs on mainland China. Putting his La Verne MBA skills to practice, Chang took Cerpass from a $200,000 initial investment to a $27 million company in a 10-year span.
He hadn’t always intended to go into business.
Before completing required military service, Chang earned an undergraduate law degree in Taiwan. He wanted to follow in his older brother’s footsteps and continue his studies in the United States, figuring law school would be the next logical step. Eventually, Chang envisioned becoming a corporate counselor, planning to one day lead his own law firm.
Chang took Cerpass from a $200,000 initial investment to a $27 million company in a 10-year span.
Chang’s prospective interest in corporate law evolved into an active interest in current business opportunities. Chang’s future wife, Kerry Ho ’99, suggested he continue his business study in the U.S., referencing La Verne’s “bridge” program, which helps international students become proficient in English, facilitating classroom and business success.
“After meeting Dr. (Abe) Helou, I felt confident that I would learn what I really wanted to know: business methods to analyze and solve problems,” Chang said.
La Verne’s integrated curriculum and experiential opportunities provided Chang the tools he needed.
Chang and Ho credit Dr. Helou, dean of the College of Business & Public Management, with helping them acclimate and adapt culturally to American higher education, a significant enhancement to their lives.
“I know that the international students are thousands of miles from home and that they need a fatherly or brotherly influence,” Dr. Helou said. “I treat all of our students as if they were my own children, with the same love.”
A teaching style devoted to student participation/integration is not unusual for students raised in the U.S., but for someone from Asia, this integrated learning process offers an entirely new way of teaching and learning.
“Dr. Helou was my most influential professor because he never gave you the answer,” Chang said. “Problems are not black and white; solving them requires independent thinking.”
As a new Board of Trustees member, Chang has the opportunity to break new ground and is looking forward to giving back to the University that gave him the skills to succeed.
“I see two ways that I can help immediately: one is to offer a personal perspective on strengthening the MBA program, by understanding what [international] students are looking for — considering the skills and knowledge that are necessary for success in the business world,” Chang said. “I may also be able to raise La Verne’s presence and reach in Asia through connecting with our alumni and helping to recruit new students.”
During a recent alumni event in Taipei, Alvin Chang — a young, successful businessman, new Board of Trustees member and proud graduate of the University of La Verne — stepped up to the podium and made a passionate pledge to the assembled alumni.
“La Verne means so much to me. It has allowed me to grow both as a person and as a businessman. It is my duty to give as generously as possible,” he said.
Vice President of University Advancement Myra Garcia recently traveled with President Lieberman and Dr. Abe Helou to Asia to connect with alumni and continue partnership opportunities with other colleges and universities in Taiwan and China.