Thursday, July 31, 2014

CEO Tenure in Korea

I often share that non-family Korea CEO tenure being considerably less than their overseas operations.

By comparison internationally the non-Korean CEOs tend to stay in the job lots longer ... and a more performance based model.

Of course, the organizational dynamics in Korea with everyone in the ranks ever-moving upward forces those at the top out to make room for the next generation.

This excerpt notes CEO tenure at many of the top Korean Groups.

SEOUL, July 30 (Yonhap) -- The average term in office of South Korean CEOs is 2.63 years, shorter than the minimum three years endorsed by the country's commercial law, a finding by a local corporate research firm showed Wednesday.

The report was compiled by tracking the tenures of 576 CEOs at listed companies belonging to the country's 30 largest conglomerates from 2000 onwards, CEO Score said. The results exclude chief executives who actually run the conglomerate or are family members of these tycoons.

The data showed that 367, or 63.7 percent of the total, stepped down in less than three years, with 102, or 17.7 percent, staying on for less than a year.

CEOs at Hyosung Group had the shortest term, 17 of them staying on the job for an average of 1.7 years during the measured period.

Mirae Asset and CJ had 1.79 and 1.97 years, each.

Others such as Kolon, Hyundai, KT, GS, POSCO, Doosan, Kumho Asiana and Dongbu had CEOs staying for less than 2.6 years on average


Friday, July 18, 2014

Vintage MacGregor Golf, and Craftsmanship that Endures

It was time for a Golf article.

Vintage MacGregor
Walking into a curio and antique shop in Golden, Colorado, my attention was drawn to an aged golf bag. A hand-written sign priced the clubs and irons at $3.00 each.

Working extensively in the golf sector, I attend high profile and prestigious events, such as the annual PGA Show in Orlando and last October the President’s Cup in Columbus, Ohio. More so, I provide daily support to retailer Golfsmith for their entry into the South Korea market with Korean partner Golfzon. As a result, I am often given the opportunity to try the latest cutting edge clubs, both those in development and those on the market.

Pleasantly surprised, I found the time-battered golf bag contained clubs and irons branded MacGregor. In short order, I grabbed a 4 Wood and a 3 Iron and became the proud owner of classic 50s clubs.

Don Southerton and MacGregor 4 Wood
MacGregor Golf, which began making clubs in 1897, pioneered many of the advances in golf equipment. MacGregor’s prowess as a maker of forged blades was passed down from one generation of heralded craftsmen to the next.
Ad from the late 1950s
The MacGregor name, however faded over time. Fortunately the respected brand was acquired by a company I know well-- retailer Golfsmith International. Today, Golfsmith offers a revamped lineup of drivers, irons, wedges, and putters.

Now the “new clubs” are displayed prominently in my Golden, Colorado office. I must say, they feel and swing great. The classic 4 Wood and 3 Iron may be aged and worn but the craftsmanship endures. 


Friday, July 11, 2014

Korean Global Business, Golf and Cars

This week i'm stringing together...some quotes. 

Don Southerton
"Among them includes powerhouse Bridging Culture Worldwide, global consulting firm dedicated to market entry into Korea’s business economy."

Golfsmith Korea, Paju
"Wonder who helped US Korea Connect with this Success Story?"

"Don, You are a wealth of knowledge. I greatly appreciate you so freely sharing your expertise in Korean economy and business environment "


Monday, June 16, 2014

Seoul’s Travel Library—Haven for Both Armchair and Intrepid Trekkers

The Travel Library, Hyundai Card’s new brand experience, was at the top of my “to do” list as I ventured from the hotel to explore Seoul during my most recent trip to Korea. An affiliate of the Hyundai Motor Group, Hyundai Card offers a number of exclusive benefits to their cardholders—most often with breakthrough creativity to raise brand awareness. For example, in 2006, Hyundai Card unveiled PRIVIA, a web-based shopping mall, which offers various products and services exclusively to members. The company also in past years sponsored a Lady Gaga performance and they continue to promote regular summer concert series headlined by rock legends, including Metallica, Iggy Pop and Ozzie Osborne.

Similar to their Design Library, which showcases design culture from around the world, the Travel Library is now home to 94,324 books and 14,700 volumes of publications with a focus on the Arts, Architecture, Adventure and Travel Photography.

Don Southerton Hyundai Card
Store Front
Re-confirming the location on my Google map app and arriving there with little effort, the library has an eye catching storefront on a side street in the trendy Cheongdam area of Gangnam. Once inside and explaining my interest to the staff, the manager was kind enough to provide a personalized tour.

Don Southerton Korea
Travel Cave
Conceptually, the uber cool design featuring vaulted wood ceilings and a maze-like layout provides a truly unique “travel cave” experience, beckoning one to explore further. With tightly packed floor- to-ceiling walls of books, archetypical chairs from around the globe and a world class café, the space provides an armchair haven for the novice tourist or the seasoned trekker.

World Cafe
The library collection was compiled by a distinguished team of travel industry media professionals who acted as curators. The entire set of the 126-year-old National Geographic magazine is housed in the library. Another hidden treasure pointed out by my guide is the Transactions of the Royal Asiatic Society Korea Branch collection. Reaching back to the early 1900s, the collection has long been a valuable source of Korean culture and history through the eyes of the first Westerners living and traveling in Korea. Reminiscing, I recall tracking down the volumes of publication in the basement archives at USC and the University of Colorado for my Korea facing historical writing projects. Outside Korea, the complete collection is rarely found all in one location and is typically neglected and in poor condition.

Enhancing the experience is the travel memorabilia décor. This includes several world globes—one thought to be from the World War II era, well-worn travel trunks, and even a prominently displayed old style airport flight board that is synchronized with the modern digital display at Incheon International Airport.

Stepping back for a moment and gazing at the library, I pondered on how this dedicated space to travel actually would connect its visitors to Hyundai Card’s brand image. It is apparent that the company strives to go beyond common perception of what a credit card provider offers its customers. With this in mind, I feel the Library is the perfect platform to showcase the Hyundai Card brand in an original way. Based on my understanding of the brand, I would expect something different and out of the box, visually appealing, and delivered in a very refined design. The Library certainly does match these corporate creative guidelines. For their customers taking advantage of the exclusive service, I feel many would find the Library exceeding expectations not only as a travel resource, but also as a haven in a fast paced urban Seoul.

In a recent Korea Times’ interview, Lee Mee-young, senior vice president of Hyundai Card's Brand Division, shared that the company is also planning a third library in Hannam-dong in northern Seoul. Mr. Lee noted, "The theme for the third library is not fixed yet. But we will put our customers' appetites such as music and food as a top priority when we decide on the next theme.”

Until my next adventure in Seoul, Bon Voyage, or in Korean—An nyeong ha sae yo—go in peace.

About the author Don Southerton
With a life-long interest and a frequent traveler to Korea, Southerton has authored numerous publications and articles centering on the Korean global business. His firm Bridging Culture Worldwide provides strategy, consulting and training to Korea-facing global business, including long time support of the Hyundai Motor Group. His most recent publication is Hyundai Way: Hyundai Speed. His current work looks at Korean corporate brand image and direction.


For more info, questions, comments, etc. 


Saturday, June 07, 2014

Hyundai MotorStudio—Blending Modern Premium and Auto-culture Inspired Opus

Located near a number of impressive high prestige car dealerships such as BMW and Audi, the Hyundai MotorStudio stands at a major intersection of Seoul’s style and fashion Gangnam district.  However, the MotorStudio differs from the competition in that its purpose is to share the Hyundai brand direction of “modern premium”. I have come to understand this to be a set of values less about luxury cars but more of striving to go beyond what customers expect in merging performance with reasonable pricing and fluid style.

Photo Courtesy of Hyundai Motor Company
Having also supported the Group’s manufacturing plants, my first impression as I explored the building’s galleries was that the industrial metallic décor of steel pipes and anodized steel panels reflects the brand’s solid auto production roots. That said, after sipping a latte in its trendy Paul Bassett café overlooking sculptures by global media artist group United Visual Artists, my impressions softened and shifted to one of introspection.

A calming venue amid the hustle and bustle of Seoul and vibrant Gangnam, the MotorStudio is a showcase for the brand and product. In particular Hyundai Motor Company’s public platform connects the brand image and vision with similar and inspiring automotive-related design, artwork, and opus. I look forward to future visits to Seoul and watching the MotorStudio and the brand evolve over time.

Each floor of the six story building showcases aspects of the brand.

Photos Courtesy of the Author
Along with an extensive collection of car culture and Hyundai-related books neat memorabilia are added features of the Library.

For more Visit:

About the Author  Don Southerton

With a life-long interest in Korea and the rich culture of the country, Southerton has authored numerous publications and articles centering on the Korean auto industry. His firm Bridging Culture Worldwide provides strategy, consulting and training to Korea-based global business, including long time support of the Hyundai Motor Group. His most recent publication is Hyundai Way: Hyundai Speed.