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Strong Women

Posted August. 16, 2005 03:09,   


Entering a “Man’s World” –

The sales department in the oil industry is generally considered a “man’s job.” The majority of the clients, the owners of gas stations, are male and heavy drinking is involved. However, women are increasingly participating in the sector. There are currently three women in sales at GS Caltex.

Gwak Eun-joo (26) started working in the sales department February of last year. She distinguished herself by checking the sales of each gas station carefully and advising the owners.

Gwak, currently in charge of petrol stations in the Busan area, said, “The people I meet, mainly gas station owners, are 100 percent male, so we often meet for drinks in order to get acquainted.”

Hyundai Oilbank also increased the number of women to 10 out of the 400 employees in sales.

The shipbuilding business, which involves large deals and frequent overseas travel, are also accepting more women. Five saleswomen are working currently at Samsung Heavy Industries. These women receive orders for ships amounting to billions so they are, in fact, sellers of the most expensive products in Korea. Kim Na-kyung of LNG Carrier Team and Goh Gyeong-hwa of the Container Ship Team have each participated in sales of 10 ships in the past two years.

Samsung said, “Female employees check very closely for errors so the proposals they prepare are almost always perfect. Also, there aren’t many female employees in this field so the foreign clients remember them well.”

Women Know Women –

Many women are entering into the pharmaceutical sales business. Astra Zeneca Korea had only five women in sales, about six percent in 2000, but now there are 36 women, up to 20 percent of the total.

At Pfizer Korea, of the 299 salespeople, 34 percent, or 102, are female. Dong A Pharmaceutical has 30 women out of its 900 salespeople, and out of the 100 new recruits last year, 12 of them are women. Hanmi Pharmaceutical has nine saleswomen of the 60 new employees that it selected earlier this year.

The pharmaceutical companies say that female employees give detailed explanations of the products they are selling which result in high sales.

Another advantage is that it is easier for them to relate to female pharmacists and doctors.

Hanmi Pharmaceutical employee Kim Eun-ha (28), who is in charge of Hanyang University Medical Center, said, “In sales, it is becoming more important to provide clients with more specific information on medicine rather than providing entertainment.”

The trend is similar in the automobile industry. Park Eun-hwa (46) of GM Daewoo is the “sales queen,” having sold the most number of commercial cars for three straight years.

In the Renault Samsung Motors North Ilsan branch, 10 of the 13 employees are female. Yoo Sung-ae (46), the branch manager, said, “It is not more difficult because we are female. Women probably listen better to the customers’ comments.”

Hyundai Motors East Yeouido branch which is led by a female manager, Kim Young-ok (49), was named as the best branch of the 25 in the area early this year.

The fact that wives are starting to select the family car is more encouraging to the saleswomen as well.

Sung-Won Joo Hyo-Lim Son swon@donga.com aryssong@donga.com