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Consultants, Trained Business Managers

Posted March. 31, 2007 07:03,   


At the beginning of this year, LG Electronics newly found a position called Chief Strategy Officer (CSO), which is responsible for the company’s overall strategy and planning development. The person recruited for the position was Park Min-seok, the Asia-Pacific representative for the practice sector at the American consulting firm, McKinsey. An LG Electronics official said, “CSO Park Min-seok was scouted according to Vice Chairman Nam Yong’s order to recruit the most competent person in the strategy development field.” He added, “Vice Chairman Nam holds great expectations regarding the future strategy development of LG Electronics.”

On January 8, during a meeting with reporters at the world’s largest electronic information technology (IT) exhibition, “CES 2007,” held in Las Vegas, U.S., Vice Chairman Nam said, “The future of this company is decided by the ability of 300 core employees.” He added, “In all sectors such as strategy, marketing, sales and manufacturing, we will recruit top talents with great competitiveness.”

It is the golden age for consultants who are skilled in overall analyses and judgment making. Companies are scouting experienced consultants from foreign affiliated firms such as McKinsey, Boston Consulting, Bain and Company, and are placing them as key executives, or even as chief executive officers (CEOs).

Ex-McKinsey Consultants are Center Spots at Major Firms-

Almost all consultants share a common background of having graduated from a prestigious university at home or abroad, hold a Masters of Business Administration degree (MBA) and have great problem-solving abilities. From when they were just beginning their careers as consultants, they have been trained to analyze situations and make decisions as if they were CEOs; therefore, major companies consider them at the top of their list for scouts.

In November of last year, Doosan Group took a “global management” stance and appointed James Bemowski, a veteran McKinsey consultant of 24 years, as the vice chairman of Doosan. Vice Chairman Bemowski specialized in structural reform, and served as the regional chief for McKinsey and Company Korea for six years beginning in 1992, during which in 1998 he was known to have led the disposal of OB Beer, which had been a symbol of Doosan Group. In January of this year, SK Group newly established SK International (SKI) to manage SK overseas corporations, and promoted former McKinsey consultant, SK Corporation Director Yoo Jeong-jun to the position of SKI chief executive officer and vice president. After joining SK Corporation in 1998, Vice President Yoo directed and led the fight against Soverign in 2002.

To add a few more, Yahoo Korea CEO Seong Nak-yang, who is due to switch over to Doosan Donga at the beginning of next month, Master Card Korea CEO Jang Yoon-seok and SK Telecom Executive Director Yoon Song-ee are also former McKinsey consultants.

Global Talents with Both Network and English Proficiency-

In addition to McKinsey, various consulting firms such as Boston Consulting, Bain and Company, and AT Kearney are coming forward with executive officers for big companies. At Woongjin Group, there are three former Boston Consulting consultants positioned; Booxen CEO Shin Gwang-soo, Woongjin Group Managing Director Yoon Seok-hwan, Woongjin Thinkbig Managing Director Seo Yeong-taek. eBay Asia Vice President Lee Jae-hyun and Auction President Park Joo-mahn are all former Boston Consulting men.

Samsung SDS Managing Director Ki Joon-neung is a former consultant at Accenture and the president of the largest cable TV system in the Seoul area, C&M Communication, Oh Kyu-seok, used to be a consultant at Bain and Company. ReignCom President Kim Hyuk-kyun and GE Energy Korea President Lee Hyun-seung built up their experience at AT Kearney.

The reason consultants are being favored as executives for big companies is because they have made a global network while working in several countries around the world, and are also highly proficient in foreign languages. Moreover, they have naturally learned effective communication skills while working together with their company’s clientele.

Park Sang-soon at Boston Consulting Group’s Seoul branch said, “Recently, as more Korean companies are involved in mergers and acquisitions (M&A), more firms have been scouting consultants with networks in various fields.”

higgledy@donga.com sanhkim@donga.com