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Financial Experts Rule the Corporate World

Posted February. 03, 2007 03:42,   


On the night of January 27, the father-in-law of Vice Chairman Lee Hak-soo, chief of the Strategic Planning Office of Samsung Group, was lying in state at the morgue of Samsung Seoul Medical Center in Ilwon-dong.

Vice Chairman Choi Kwang-hae, chief of the Strategic Support Team and of the finance division, arrived at the morgue. The previous finance and auditing teams of Samsung Group were combined into the Strategic Support Team, which is currently divided into two parts, a finance division and a management assessment division.

After Vice Chairman Choi expressed his condolences, CEOs of Samsung affiliates greeted him, saying, “At last, the finance team chief has arrived.”

There is a reason the CEOs treats Choi so specially. The scene indicates the status of the person in charge of Samsung Group’s finances. The finance component of the Strategic Support Team analyzes each affiliate’s business strategy and makes the decision on whether it will be implemented.

Many of the executives with power in big domestic companies, including Samsung, Hyundai/Kia Motors, and LG, are experts in finance. In the year-end reshuffling of executives, these finance experts made noticeable advances.

Number Two in Three of the Four Groups –

Those in the financial circle of Samsung Group are gaining increasing amounts of power. At the crux is Vice Chairman Lee Hak-soo, called “Samsung’s Number Two.” President Kim In-joo, vice-chief of the Strategic Planning Office, is also a financial expert. Kim, 49 years old this year, has made notable success by being promoted to the position of president in 2004. There is a saying within Samsung that Vice Chairman Lee is Chairman Lee Kun Hee’s right-hand man while President Kim is the vice chairman’s right-hand man.

Park Jung-in, who was promoted from advisor in Hyundai Mobis to chief vice chairman of Hyundai Motor last September, is next to Chairman Chung Mong-ku in power. Park has assisted Chairman Chung at his side for 30 years since he joined Hyundai Precision and Industry (currently Hyundai Mobis) to work in the accounting and finance team.

LG Vice Chairman Kang Yu-sik is also an expert in financial planning and holds a CPA certificate. Kwon Yeong-soo, recently promoted to the position of president of LG Philips LCD, is also a financial expert who used to head the finance division of LG Electronics.

Other Standouts in Leading Companies –

Shinsegae Vice Chairman Koo Hak-seo, promoted to the position last November, is also a well-known financial expert who once worked in the Secretary Office of Samsung Group. Backed up by Chairman Lee Myung-hee, Koo is leading Shinsegae with Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin, the “next generation CEO.”

Many of the GS Group managers are from financial circles as well, including GS Homeshopping Vice Chairman Kang Mal-kil, GS Holdings Vice Chairman Seo Kyeong-seok, and GS Construction’s Kim Kap-ryeol.

President Lee Jae-kyeong, head of Doosan Group’s strategic planning, has been in charge of finance in Doosan’s main affiliates such as Dongsan Engineering and Construction (currently Doosan Industrial Development), Doosan Food, and Oriental Brewery.

Kumho Asiana Group’s strategic management head Oh Nam-soo is also counted as a representative financial expert in power. He led the Daewoo Construction acquisition project last year.

LS Industrial Systems Vice Chairman Kim Jeong-man was CFO of LG Chem and of the former LG Industrial Systems. Kyeong Cheong-ho, who was promoted to Hyundai Department Store Representative Director last December, also has expertise in finance.

Vice President Hong Dong-ok, Hanhwa Group’s CFO in charge of investment operations in the Management Planning Office, has gained Chairman Kim Seung-yeon’s trust.

SK Chemical Vice Chairman Kim Chang-geun, whose power has weakened lately, had been number two as SK Group’s representative financial expert for a long time.

Work Proficiency and Strong Loyalty Are Key –

The rise of financial experts in power is based on their excellent ability to put into action the group leader’s management philosophy based on their skill with numbers. They are also loyal to their owners and organizations.

Another reason for their success is that companies are focusing on risk management following the crisis of exchange rates. A big company executive summed this up by saying, “You cannot manage a company without financial knowledge such as M&A or accounting.”