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Why are Korean companies in need of foreign executives?
Date : 2014-05-26

Why are Korean companies in need of foreign executives?

Irene Park(Global Business Group Chief consultant)
Careercare Newsletter(May, 2014)

Korean companies are actively recruiting foreign executives. Companies have adopted various positions such as HR professionals, financial accountants, researchers, etc. 85 (11.6%) out of the 731 companies have foreign executives.
Samsung Electronics has the most foreign executives in Korea, meaning 16 people (1.64%) out of 977 are foreign executives. Next, Ssangyong Motor has nine foreign executives and LG Electronics has eight. When broken down by nationalities, it shows Japanese 68(36.0%), American 56(29.6%), Indian 14(7.4%), and French 11(5.8%). Samsung has promoted 12 foreign executive officers in 2014. Two more people have been promoted since then. Samsung explained that the reason the company selectively chose employees working abroad is for the development of the local market and to strengthen global management.

Why are Korean companies in need of foreign executives?
First, the openings of Korean branches are increasing overseas. Personnel management is required for each branch. For example, Samsung Electronics operates more than 100 offices all over the world, such as in the United States, Europe, and Africa. LG Electronics has over 84,000 employees working at 110 regional headquarters located abroad. Hyundai Motor also operates 45 regional headquarters. Human resource managers, who are familiar with the local area, are hired since overseas productions have increased.

Second, in order to leap forward as a global company, it is essential to have people who are familiar with international standards, such as security, accounting, and human resources. For example, Korean Air has experienced difficulties in understanding and applying security requirements for international safety. Eventually, Korean Air solved the problem by hiring foreign executives who were familiar with international standards. Harry David Greenberg, who became the first foreign executive in safety-related position at Korean Air, was previously the Director at Delta Airlines. He developed the “Delta Program,” a flight information system. This program increased the safety of Delta Air Lines. George Snyder also was recruited the same year as the Managing Director. He was previously employed by US Airlines and served as the chairman for the safety committee for ATA(Air Transport Association) of America. Using his knowledge and experience, he succeeded in changing the security system and Korean Air is now well known for its "airline safety."

Third, recruiting local experts will be beneficial in expanding the overseas market. Samsung’s mobile phone production technology is the best in the world, but the market share at one point stood in second place. This was due to Nokia outperforming Samsung in the Middle East. Samsung then recruited foreign executives from the region and has since become the first in the Middle Eastern market. By 2013, it had the most market shares in the world. This was also true in the field of research and development. Through the recruitment of local experts, Samsung has developed products that matches the characteristics of local and export markets. It has also developed products for North America, Western Europe, and the Middle East. Later, this expanded to Central America, South America, Eastern Europe, and to the CIS.

Careercare is the preferred search firm when it comes to domestic companies recruiting foreign experts. Recruiters in the Global business unit of Careercare provide expertise in foreign employment and maintain a good understanding of the corporate culture of Korea. A synergetic effect will take place in an organization when foreign executives begin to understand the Korean culture through tolerance and curiosity. To grow as a global enterprise, Korean domestic companies will continue to recruit foreign executives through Careercare.

Careercare is the largest recruiting and executive search firm in the Korean market for the last 15 years. It is time for us to make a new leap forward. With our three core values, ‘Respect People’, ‘Differentiate the Differences’, and ‘Social Responsibility’, we are giving more efforts to achieve the vision of ‘Advance through Talent’.



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