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Hyundai-Kia’s team of leaders gears up

[The faces inside KOREA’S CONGLOMERATES:Hyundai-Kia]

Nov 03,2008
The JoongAng Daily will carry a weekly series about key figures in major conglomerates to help readers better understand Korea’s business world.

The Hyundai–Kia Automotive Group is regarded by analysts as a company for which the current global financial crisis and subsequent slowdown provide an opportunity, thanks to its fuel-efficient cars.

Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group. Chairman Chung Mong-koo
In addition, improved quality ratings by global agencies may enable Hyundai and Kia to expand their combined global market share next year. For example, Hyundai Motor ranked fifth in the Auto Bild Quality Report 2008 released last month, up from 11th in 2007.

Analysts say the conglomerate’s aggressive growth is an offshoot of the management style of Chung Mong-koo, 70, chairman of the Hyundai–Kia Group. Chung, the second son of Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung, majored in industrial management at Hanyang University.

He is said to resemble his father in positive drive and on-the-spot management. Chung has been busy this year visiting Hyundai’s and Kia’s domestic and overseas plants, as well as the construction site of Hyundai Steel’s first integrated steel mill in South Chungcheong, as he takes the carmaker in new directions.

He has increased such activities since receiving a presidential pardon in August after a conviction for embezzlement and breach of trust.
The conglomerate has risen to the second position in total assets nationally from fifth in 2000, when it was spun off from the Hyundai Group, according to Fair Trade Commission data.

Market observers say this is the result of harmony between Chung’s aggressive management and other executives’ work.

Kim Dong-jin, well known as former Hyundai Motor vice chairman for comprehensive affairs and Chung’s long-trusted aide, was appointed early last month as vice chairman of Hyundai Mobis, the group’s biggest auto parts manufacturing unit. Hyundai–Kia officials said he has been transferred to Mobis to reinforce the group’s parts business. However, market observers suspect Kim’s transfer is the start of a large-scale reshuffle that will mark a generational shift in the group’s leadership.

Another former Hyundai Motor vice chairman, Kim Yong-moon, was appointed as vice chairman of Dymos, another parts affiliate, last month.
Among the remaining Hyundai Motor vice chairmen is Seol Young-heung, who leads Hyundai–Kia’s Chinese operations. He has a wide network in mainland China and Taiwan.

And Suh Byung-kee, vice chairman in charge of product development and quality management since 2005, is now leading the automaker’s continued efforts to improve quality.

Another vice chairman of Hyundai Motor, Lee Jung-dae, is in charge of finance and planning. He is regarded as an expert in accounting and financial affairs, as he has directed the financial affairs at headquarters since 2003.

Among Hyundai Motor presidents, Choi Jae-kook, in charge of planning and marketing, was one of the forces behind the launch of the Hyundai Excel, a small-size sedan in the U.S. market in 1986. But in the 1990s, Hyundai suffered poor U.S. sales due to a reputation for low quality. Choi, however, helped turn that around in the 2000s.

Lee Hyun-soon, president in charge of research and development, is an expert in the development of power trains, the essential parts of an automobile including the engine. The 2-liter Ceta engine for the Sonata sedan, which is exported to the U.S.-based Chrysler and Japan’s Mitsubishi, is one example of his work.
And Kim Yong-Hwan, president of overseas marketing since early this year, has a lot of experience as an executive in Hyundai’s overseas offices. A virtual secretary to Chairman Chung, he also worked in Hyundai–Kia’s overseas marketing headquarters.

Kim Seung-nyun, president in charge of purchasing since the start of this year, also performs secretarial duties for Chairman Chung, assisting him for more than 15 years.

Youn Yeo-chul, who has been running the Ulsan Plant, was chosen last month to lead all labor issues. Under his effort, labor and management of Hyundai Motor ended a strike relatively quickly this year and finished wage negotiations last year without a strike for the first time since the labor union’s founding 10 years ago.

As for Kia Motors, Vice Chairman Kim Ik-hwan and President Cho Nam-hong are leading the nation’s second-biggest automaker as co-CEOs.
Peter Schreyer, vice president of Kia Motors, is the company’s chief design officer. Schreyer, who worked for Germany’s Volkswagen and Audi, has created a look for Kia that appeals to young people, including a radiator grille design inspired by a tiger’s mouth.

And Kim Bong-kyung is the vice president in charge of public relations for both Hyundai and Kia.

Among the leaders of other major affiliates is Lee Yeo-sung, vice chairman of Hyundai Rotem, a railroad car manufacturer and plant builder.
And Kim Chang-hee, vice chairman of Amco, a builder, is regarded as an expert in marketing and sales.

Kim Chi-woong, who formerly headed the Glovis logistics unit, was appointed early last month as vice chairman of Wia, another parts manufacturing unit.
Chung Suk-soo, president of Hyundai Mobis, is attracting more attention as Hyundai–Kia moves to reinforce its parts business. He has headed financial and accounting affairs for the conglomerate’s various affiliates.

Market observers are also eyeing Kwon Moon-sik, who advanced to the position of president of Hyundai Steel from vice president in April.
Kwon worked for a long time in Hyundai Motor’s R&D headquarters.

The conglomerate is expanding into the steel industry.
Hyundai Steel aims to start production of liquid iron in 2010 by completing the on-ongoing construction of an integrated steel mill.


By Moon So-young Staff Reporter [symoon@joongang.co.kr]


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