[VIEWPOINT]Vision, staff development are key

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[VIEWPOINT]Vision, staff development are key

It is welcoming news that a dozen Korean companies ranked in the recent announcement of Fortune 500 companies. I sincerely hope that these companies will continue to grow as long lasting companies, to prosper for a long time to come, by overcoming the short history and experience of Korea as a capitalist nation. DuPont celebrated its 200th anniversary this year while P&G enjoys the heritage of 166 years and HSBC of 137 years.

Not only are these companies long lasting companies, but they are also the leaders of the world.

The last century was a long and challenging time not only for the world, but also for companies. With two world wars, the Great Depression, and fast changing technology, companies must feel like they are at war all the time. So what are the secrets of companies that grew to become globally competitive players through such times of changes and challenges?

Firstly, the companies considered human resources to be the most important. Recruiting and development of talented people is key to a company's success. It is no coincidence that the founder of the Samsung Group focused the most on recruiting talented people and that today Samsung is the leading company that represents Korea.

HSBC recruits and manages employees who will travel and work around the world separately from the very beginning. The first thing Allianz did after taking over First Life was to strengthen staff training by increasing the training time by five times.

But companies cannot recruit and develop talented people just by themselves. The employees must take ownership as well.

One union contract specified that if management wanted to transfer workers from one plant to another, it had to get the approval of the labor union. Under a system like this, it is difficult to train the employees properly by providing them with various experiences. Furthermore, it is unlikely that such a company will grow to become a global player 100 years later.

Only when companies and labor unions put their efforts together, the mission of a great company and great people comes true.

Secondly, the companies implemented changes and innovation to meet customers' needs. P&G, known as a training academy for marketers, invests heavily in research. The company strives to find out what the consumers want and responds with products that meet their needs.

When P&G invented baby diapers, the lives of mothers around the world changed for the better. The world's biggest silicon manufacturer Dow Corning developed a system called Xiameter for its customers to buy standardized silicon products via e-commerce.

The system, enabling its customers to buy silicon real time at the lowest price in the world, naturally put Dow Corning ahead of its competitors.

Thirdly, the companies had a long-term vision. The hottest issue these days is the U.S. companies' transparency in management.

Focusing on the stock price forces the management to seek profit in the short-term, which can result in false accounting and ultimately bankruptcy. CEOs are not politicians. The career of a politician lasts only a few decades, but when a CEO does the job well, he or she is building a foundation on which the company can grow for the next few centuries.

Doing business in Korea, the most frequently asked question is when we will make profit and what we will do with the profit. Long lasting companies do not invest to achieve short-term profit within a few years. Most companies that invest in Korea have a long-term commitment in the Korean market.

Although there are companies such as Doosan and CHB that are more than 100 years old in Korea, they do not get much attention, as they are not global players. They have not developed global people and there is no evidence of long-term vision.

Of course, there must have been significant changes and innovation in their own history, but the target was mostly the Korean market and not the global market.

If we want to look ahead a few hundred years, global talent, long-term strategy and endless changes and innovation are a must.


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The writer is the CEO of Allianz Life.

by Michel Campeanu

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