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Success Stories of Korean CEOs Residing Overseas

Posted July. 09, 2005 03:06,   


CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of P&G Korea, Kim Sang-hyun immigrated to the U.S. when he was 10. He worked for P&G in the U.S. head office and in Japan as a director of the marketing department and of the strategy-planning department. P&G appointed him as the general director of P&G Korea in July 2003, because the company posted sluggish business performance in Korea, which is the important market in Asia.

CEO of Pizza Hut Korea, Jo In-soo, immigrated to Brazil in his childhood with his parents. He once worked for P&G of the U.S. before working for Tricon that runs Pizza Hut, KFC and Taco Bell in 1997. He has served as the CEO of Pizza Hut Korea for seven years.

Lee Chang-yeop was inaugurated as CEO of Nongshim Kellogg last month. After building a career in the field of marketing in the U.S. headquarters and the branch office in Malaysia of multinational companies such as Gillette and P&G, he assumed the post of the head of branch of Hush Food in Korea since 1999 and served as CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) of Haitai Confectionary & Foods CO., LTD since 2001.

John Lee, CEO of Carrier Korea that manufactures home appliances such as air conditioners is also a Korean residing overseas. He graduated from the U.S. military academy. In 1993 he joined UTC, the main office of Carrier and worked in the filed of aviation and electric cell businesses. In 2003, he began leading Carrier Korea.

Lee Ho-rim, who began to serve as CEO of SBW in January, is also an overseas Korean. He worked for many global companies including Pepsi, Wal-Mart, Molex, and Texas Instrument. Based on his achievements he made while serving as COO (Chief Operating Officer) of Pizza Hut Korea and Wal-Mart Korea, he joined SBW.

Another John Lee, CEO of Oxy, a company that manufactures daily necessities is also an immigrant to the U.S. In addition, Moon Gyeong-il, CEO of McAfee Korea, a security company and Jo Seong-sik, CEO of SAS Korea, a solution company, are also overseas Koreans.

Performances Speak Volumes-

Korean CEOs living overseas are accomplishing big achievements by combining their international sense and their Korean sensitivity. The prominent case in point is Mr. Kim, CEO of P&G Korea.

“Pantene,” a high-quality shampoo of P&G is the best selling shampoo around the world, but in Korea it is sometimes outstripped by “Elastine” of LG Household & Health Care. At the end of last month after Kim took office as CEO, Pantene took back its status as the top selling shampoo and is competing neck and neck with Elastine. Head & Shoulders, a shampoo that removes dandruff, came in second or third in sales, but it has frequently become the top-selling shampoo this year.

Pizza Hut Korea posts the third best performance among some 80 countries into which Pizza Hut has made inroads. Behind its good performance lies the development of pizzas that suit the taste of Koreans. Despite the slow economy, Pizza Hut Korea grows 20 percent every year.

John Lee, CEO of Carrier Korea, developed a kimchi refrigerator for the first time as a foreign home appliances manufacturer. It is making efforts to localize Carrier in Korea by producing home appliances that meet the needs of Korean consumers such as refrigerators for cosmetics, and anion air-conditioners.

McAfee Korea has steadily grown 50 percent each year since Mr. Moon was inaugurated as CEO. In May, it was promoted to a local subsidiary from a branch office.

SAS Korea recorded sales growth of 20 percent year-on-year last year when Mr. Jo took office. It suffered deficits last year, but it posted its net profit of 900 million won this year.

Im-Sook Ha artemes@donga.com