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Retail Executives Mostly Men: Poll

Posted February. 13, 2007 07:45,   


“The average profile of a retail executive is a 49.3-year-old male college graduate with experience working in sales departments.”

That is the standard profile of large-retailer executives who are leading Korea’s distribution industry.

This paper identified this standard by conducting a survey on executives of major offline retail companies such as Lotte Shopping, Shinsegae and Hyundai Department Store, and 13 online retailers including GS Home Shopping, CJ Home Shopping, Auction, and G Market on February 13. The companies picked were ranked first or second in their sectors, or earned more than 1 trillion won last year.

One in two executives is in his or her 40s and has experience in sales–

As of February 12, the number of executives in the 13 retailers was 219.

Lotte Shopping, the leader in the distribution industry, had most executives, 53, followed by Shinsegae with 33. Lotte Shopping had relatively more executives than others as it owns three types of subsidiaries: department stores, large retail markets and supermarkets.

Looking into the level of education of senior executives, 80% of them graduated from college and up to 18% had a master’s or doctorate degree.

More than half (53.9%) of the executives, 118, are in their 40s; 90 (41.1%) are in their 50s; and 8 (3.7%) are in their 60s.

Only three in upper management were in their 30s: Jeong Yong-jin, 38, vice president of Shinsegae, Jang Seon-yoon, 36, managing director of Lotte Shopping, and Yang Dae-shik, 35, Chief Technology Officer of G Market, an e-marketplace.

The average age of the seniors at Hyundai Home Shopping was the highest, 53, while G Market executives’ average was the lowest with 38.7.

Among offline retail companies, Hanhwa Galleria executives are the most aged at 51.9 years old whereas the least aged are those in the distribution division of E-land Group, which recently emerged as a dark horse in the distribution industry after completing active M&As.

Regarding the experience they had before becoming executives, more than half (119, 58.6%) of the respondents (203) said sales.

Oh Jung-hee, director of the public relations division of Hyundai Department Store, said, “The figures are natural considering 80% of those in the distribution sector are working in the sales department and the rest are in supporting departments such as personnel management.”

Female executives number just 1.8%, half the rate of other sectors–

A noteworthy aspect was that the number of female managers was very small given that 80% of all floor workers, including those selling at the store, in this sector are woman.

Only four or 1.8% out of the respondents were female.

The figure is just half of 3.3% of 546 companies in the private sector, government agencies, and public companies that employ more than 1,000, according to the Ministry of Labor.

Two out of the four female executives are Shin Young-ja, vice president of Lotte Shopping and first daughter of Shin Gyeok-ho, Chairman of Lotte Group, and Jang Seon-yoon, managing director of Lotte Shopping and vice president Shin’s daughter.

The other two are the first females promoted to the executive level by Shinsegae last November.

Park Ju-seong, director of the public relations department of Shinsegae, said, “Highly educated women are reluctant to work in this sector since it is not highly regarded by them. Also, many women quit work to marry and care for children when they often need to work more than 20 years to be an executive in this industry.”

jsonhng@donga.com imsoo@donga.com