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Samsung Elec. `globalizes` reshuffle of top executives

Posted December. 30, 2010 11:29,   


Samsung Electronics held a global strategic meeting Wednesday on business plans and strategies for next year, with more than 300 executives at its Seoul headquarters and overseas participating.

While Hyundai-Kia Automotive, LG and Doosan groups have brought in foreigners as vice president and vice chairman, Samsung has hired comparatively fewer foreign executives. Last year, foreign employees accounted for 72,612 of Samsung’s 157,701 staff but just 14 executives were foreigners and only two held the title of executive vice president: David Steel and Wang Tong.

Steel works at the company’s U.S. headquarters and Wang at the China headquarters. In contrast, Kia Motors hired as chief design officer in 2006 Peter Schreyer of Audi, who was responsible for the K5 and K7 through groundbreaking designs.

Samsung’s efforts to hire more foreigners come amid Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s comment that over the next 10 years, the conglomerate will face challenges unlike those of the past decade. The iPhone boom shocked Samsung Electronics and its move is reflective of a shift in corporate strategy from “fast follower” to “leader.”

This also reflects management’s priority that to fundamentally change its corporate structure for the next 10 years, internal communication should be expanded while foreign employees should be recruited or promoted.

Massive vehicle recalls by Japan’s Toyota Motor also affected Samsung Group’s decision. The U.K. magazine Economist said Toyota had no foreign or female board members when the recalls came, and failed to properly respond to the accelerator pedal defect because of lack of diversity in meetings.

Calls in and out of Samsung Group are growing on granting more authority and responsibility to international business divisions to respond faster to global business risks.

In the conglomerate’s annual personnel shakeup a month ago, Samsung Mobile Display President Kang Ho-moon was promoted to vice chairman and transferred to the company’s China headquarters. He was the conglomerate’s first international business division head to become vice chairman.

Yoo Doo-young, regional director of the Central and South American division, was promoted from executive vice president to vice president.