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[The Korea Times] Careercare Young-Mi Lee consultant interview
Date : 2014-03-27

Former Samsung men on demand

Korea’s flagship companies increasingly name former Samsung executives to top positions to make use of the technology giant’s cutting edge in globalization and crisis management.

KT, SK Telecom and SK hynix have recently joined the move, which analysts say is gaining momentum due to internal and external risk factors amid tougher competition in their industries.

Samsung is one of the most globalized companies in terms of management structure and operational systems. Speed and innovation have been core values sought by the company in recent decades, industry people familiar with Samsung and its corporate culture told The Korea Times by telephone.

Companies struggling with poor performance or a variety of risks have good reasons to take former Samsung executives into their management, they said.

“Little doubt, the executives have proven track records of riding out crises by making a preemptive response to changes in businesses or drawing a big picture plan for the next growth engines,” an official at a local chipmaker said, asking not to be named.

“Former Samsung officials are believed to have a DNA that could guide businesses through uncertainties,” Kim Jong-ki, a researcher from the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics & Trade, said.

The companies seem to believe their experience and know-how will help tackle difficulties facing them, the official said.

Most recently, KT named Hwang Chang-gyu, former technology president of Samsung Electronics, as CEO of the country’s second-biggest mobile carrier after SK Telecom late last month.

Hwang, 61, worked for Samsung Electronics for 20 years, until 2009. He helped the Korean chipmaker grow into a global force, guiding it to develop the world’s first 256-megabit dynamic random access memory chip in 1994.

In his inaugural speech on Jan. 27, Hwang said, “I will transform KT into Korea’s No. 1 telecom company by applying my experience of leading a global leading company (Samsung Electronics) and national R&D project.”

Hwang announced drastic self-rescue plans which included steep wage cuts for all executives and employees, and target-oriented operations, to regain competitiveness.

In all, it is safe to say the former president of Samsung Electronics came to KT’s rescue.

In November, his predecessor Lee Suk-chae resigned amid an investigation by prosecutors into his possible involvement in accounting fraud and breach of trust. The probe is still underway.

KT’s net profit on a consolidated basis plunged 84 percent to 181.6 billion won ($168 million) for 2013 from 1.105 trillion won a year earlier, according to a regulatory filing.

Park So-yeon, an analyst at Korea Investment & Securities, said those who once worked for Samsung as decision-makers are “wanted” by companies financially in trouble or lacking in growth strategies.

“A majority of companies prefer ex-Samsung executives when they seek talent to fill their vacant management positions,” Lee Young-mi, a manager at local head-hunter CAREERCARE, said Monday.

SK Group, which has SK Telecom as flagship affiliate under its wing, took a similar step last week to seek a “future growth engine.”

With its Chairman Chey Tae-won imprisoned since January of last year for misuse of company funds, the refinery-to-telecom conglomerate named former Samsung Electronics’ chief technology officer Lim Hyung-kyu as executive vice chairman in charge of creating a new cash cow in the information-communication-technology (ICT) sector and making broader plans for long-term growth.

Lim, 61, is “fully responsible for the technology workforce and business plans for ICT affiliates under SK Group,” such as SK Telecom, SK C&C and SK hynix, SK Group said in a statement. Lim began his career at Samsung Electronics in 1976 and served as chief of Samsung Electronics’ new business team in 2008 when his 32-year career ended at Samsung.

Over the past year, SK hynix hired two other ex-Samsung officials to strengthen its technology prowess. They are Suh Kwang-pyuk who formerly served as vice-president of Samsung Electronics’ system large-scale integrated circuit operations and Oh Se-young who developed memory chips for Samsung.

SK hynix posted a net profit of 2.87 trillion won for 2013, swinging from a net loss of 158.79 billion won a year earlier, a public disclosure showed.

[The original text] [The Korea Times] Former Samsung men on demand

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