In recent years my works Korea Facing, Secrets to Success in Korean Global Business (2013) and Korea Perspective (2015) both looked at Korea business--outside Korea, while Hyundai Way: Hyundai Speed (2014) was a deep dive into Hyundai Motor and Korean corporate culture. That said, over the past 3 years I have continued to author numerous published articles.... all the while pondering the next book-worthy topic.
My recent non-stop rounds of travel to South Korea has not only piled on the air miles but provided the needed research required to again begin crafting my next book.
As with past three books and those prior, I'll be sharing chapter by chapter sneak peeks for comments, questions and in many cases your additional and much-needed thoughts.
To begin...Korea 2020
I work within two worlds, two cultures. In my first, I support organizations outside Korea, often advising major Korean companies on their international operations or assisting western firms’ HQ C-suite leadership in their market entry ventures into South Korea.
My second is counseling leadership and teams, both western and domestic, in Korea. As a highly respected friend and colleague recently noted to a group meeting introduction, “Don has lived many lives in Korea.”
For the former, the overseas subsidiaries of most Korean companies have Korean management assigned to the host country. The general term for these representative employees is ju jae won. Within the local overseas organizations, they may be called Coordinators, Executive Coordinators or Executive Advisors.
Some expatriates may hold a line managerial position with day-to-day responsibilities alongside western managers, while others hold key management C-level positions, such as CEO, COO, and especially CFO.
Frankly, over the past decades, little has changed in the expat model. The expatriates are consistently highly engaged in the local operations and decision-making. More so, I see few differences from the past in their workplace dress, protocols, work habits and grueling long hours—even with generational shifts occurring.
Surprisingly, where I see the contrast is with the companies in Korea. In fact, in what was once a sea of conformity and protocols, the workplace is undergoing radical change.
Exploring this change will be the core for my new book in progress—working title Korea 2020. As I explore and share the new Korean workplace, I envision two audiences. My first target group is those new to Korea and its workplace. For this, my work can serve as a study guide and primer. The second target readership is the leaders and teams outside Korea and my goal is to help this group understand the changes underway within Korea. I see this as vital to help them better make decisions.
Snapshots Tuesday PM`
Driving across Gangnam amid a summer rainstorm to a meeting with a Korean multi-national firm’s CEO, the newly appointed domestic leader—a Korean American expatriate. His challenges—getting the local team to be open to change.
Meeting with senior leadership of a major Korean chaebol’s tech division. The Korean senior vice president, a newly recruited America educated Ph.D., walks into the meeting in jeans and a dress shirt. His team-- in a mix of casual dress –polos and collared dress shirts.
Thursday Early AM
Arriving at the worldwide headquarters for a top global brand, one notices the high-security measures now in place from vehicle checkpoints to heightened levels of document verification when signing in for the visit.
Escorted by a staffer, we’re joined by the team again in casual dress… in a workplace once best described for decades as “ a sea of white shirts, ties, and dark suits.”
Passing through similar security some hours later, we were greeted by a team and its lead engineer—again sporting a very trendy Ralph Lauren branded shirt. In quizzing his past work experience—we learn this engineer was recruited from a rival Chaebol—a once unheard of recruiting practice.
Their Vice President, a European—one of several in the company, and now heading up the division, joins the meeting. . Despite a considerable difference in rank and experience, the Korean team and the VP collaborate as equals—their common ground—they are engineers.
A mid-level manager arrives in the office shortly after 9 AM—not unusual for the worker with a 45 to 60-minute commute. Reflecting today’s workforce women in the office number the same as men. One notices the manager’s casual dress--sneakers and jeans with cuffs rolled up 10+ inches, the new trend. Few heads turn as the employee walks over to a workstation. All is considered normal.
It is apparent to those long associated with Korea that the workplace culture is changing. In sneak peek previews, as an observer of Korea, I’ll be sharing not only trends but also the impact of Change both in Korea and for operations and HQs outside Korea. Plus, my focus... the "why' behind ...
More to come… comments and questions welcome...Korea 2020
Copies of ALL my previous works are available complimentary... just ask.