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One hundred and eight bows of former IBK CEO

Posted February. 02, 2015 09:27,   


Inaugural address is written with dreams, and retirement speech is written by track records. Shorter retirement speech is better because what the retiree had achieved and left are already been evaluated. Former CEO of Industrial Bank of Korea (IBK) Cho Joon-hee called individual names of bank employees who passed away by accident or disease during his term in office and prayed for their souls at the retirement ceremony at the end of 2013. Cho did the same thing at the inaugural speech in the end of 2010. As the first CEO who started his career in the bank as the lowest rank employee, Cho always valued people.

The former CEO had a special perspective in the human resource management. When he was a rank-and-file in the bank, Cho had a thought about the so-called "one-shot appointment" while working at the HR team. Currently, Korean government ministries and private companies appoint and promote employees from top to bottom in a phased manner. During the time of personnel shakeup, employees are likely to be distracted and cannot focus on their own duties for a month at maximum. If personnel reshuffling is prepared perfectly in advance, such negative effect can be minimized. Cho had this dream for 30 years before he became the CEO, and put that into action after inauguration. The former CEO shattered such bad chronic practices that others believed it would be impossible to fix.

Cho has never skipped practicing 108 bows over the past six years. Even when he fell sick by flu, he performed the zen-style bow practice every morning. The idea for the bank commercial starring Song Hae (Korean’s favorite grandpa TV host), which made a big hit, popped up while practicing 108 bows. When Cho suggested “casting Mr. Song for the bank commercial,” almost all executives opposed to the idea. After having hard thoughts, he asked his daughter who worked at an advertising company about the idea. The daughter frowned on it, saying the idea would not work. However, Cho made up his mind after seeking how to enhance image of the bank for several days while practicing 108 bows. Cho made an impressive catchphrase of the commercial, “Your savings in the IBK will save local companies,” making the commercial a great success.

In his inaugural speech, Cho made a commitment to become “IBK Taejong,” king of the Joseon Dynasty. The Great King Sejong could develop and rule the Joseon Dynasty in peace since his father Taejong laid the foundation. His inaugural address was an expression of commitment to eradicate wrong practices such as solicitation for personnel appointment, aiming to lay the groundwork for subsequent CEOs to spread their wings in growing IBK into a great bank that lasts for a century and even more. Cho’s book titled "Embracing Song Hae" has been recently published. The main topic of the book is "earnest desire." Cho has shown by his career that a person can achieve his or her dream when desiring in earnest.