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[Opinion] Prof. Seo Young-joon’s Leadership

Posted March. 12, 2008 08:10,   


Park Hyun-joo, chairman of Mirae Asset Financial Group, advises new employees to “learn from the best to be the best.” He said, “Meeting with great experts in my younger days was helpful whenever I faced obstacles. Even as chairman, I try to get advice from those who have gone ahead of me.”

In his book “Money is a Beautiful Flower,” he wrote, “Younger and older people often seem like oil and water these days. For organizational development, horizontal communication is important but so is vertical communication.”

A pharmaceutical research team at Seoul National University headed by Professor Seo Young-joon has received the Young Scientists of the Year award for nine straight years. Seo said, “We try to return what we learned from our mentors, who showed a passion for learning and commitment to younger students.”

He said his teacher, Professor James Miller of the University of Wisconsin, was a nice person who picked Seo up at the airport and put food for a week in the refrigerator for him.

Seeking to prevent cancer by studying the progress of normal cells toward cancerous ones, the team is called the “scientist academy” because its 11 researchers have received 25 awards from renowned associations for nine years. It is unprecedented for one team to receive so many awards not only from the American Cancer Society but also from numerous other associations. Fueling the passion of these researchers, who often go on business trips and stay up late at night to write papers, is the leadership of Seo Young-joon.

Seo is famous for meticulously helping his students write academic papers from start to finish, and for encouraging his researchers by saying, “If you stay focused, you can do it.”

“When researchers join my team, I let them decide on a research subject that meets global standards and send them to overseas associations,” he said. “When they see the bigger world, even those who initially had fear become enthusiastic.”

Many complain about lack of talent, but talent should be nurtured like Seo has.

Editorial writer Huh Moon-myung (angelhuh@donga.com)