Korean People's Exultation - "Shin-Ba-Ram"Kevin Reardon
President & CEO, CLARK Material Handling Asia
I agree that time flies as it now has been two years since I came to Korea.
I remember CLARK Material Handling Asia employees' bewildered faces that I saw when I first got here in Korea. It's understandable considering that the ownership of their proud company was handed over to a foreign company and a blue-eyed foreigner came as the president. Besides, communication difficulty due to a language barrier as well as different work styles was not an easy thing to cope with, either.
The first thing that hit me was "I have to get along with these guys." I said hello first whenever I ran into an employee/s in hallways and tried to initiate conversation. I could sense that employees gradually shook up their discomfort.
Next I started playing soccer with them, utilizing my experience as a football player and a coach. As we bumped into and bruised one another (of course, we weren't trying to hurt others), we got closer and this closeness developed into a solid teamwork. Later we even recorded an outstanding result in a soccer competition among teams from factories all over Changwon area.
The result was magnificent. As the wall in mind diminishes, surprising synergy effect emerged in production and sales. During this period, I realized a unique characteristic of Koreans, which is compassion. I call this compassion as Korean "Shin-Ba-Ram".
I understood that Korean people want a family-like atmosphere both at home and at work. It makes them work joyfully and propels their productivity, which is somewhat different from my home country's business culture. I know that, to succeed as a leader of a company in Korea, I rather have to acquaint myself to Korean culture and get along with Korean employees than expect them to simply follow my western way.
Would I be too confident if I say that my two years effort helped the growth of compassion and trust between myself and employees? I believe my fellow foreigners will be able to get along better with Korean people if they realize this.
by Kevin Reardon