[FOUNTAIN]No meddling could make for good bossIn early 1999, Hewlett-Packard decided to go outside the company for the first time in hiring a new chief executive. There was a growing sense of crisis at the company; it had growth potential, human resources, technology and brand value, but executives acknowledged that they needed some special spark to keep on advancing.
Even so, Carly Fiorina of Lucent Technology was a surprising choice to fill the job. Selected as the most influential female U.S. executive by Fortune magazine in 1998, she was arguably a star, but she had no experience in the computer industry. Four board members in charge of choosing a new chief executive gave her high marks for vision, enthusiasm and leadership. She was especially rated highly for setting strategic goals and reaching them. Dick Hackborn, who was one of the key executives involved in Ms. Fiorina’s appointment, once said, “She could be the next Jack Welch.” As Carly Fiorina leads the revival at Hewlett-Packard, successfully concluding its merger with Compaq despite the opposition of major shareholders, she has so far satisfied the expectations of those who had made her the boss.
Kookmin Bank, the largest bank in Korea, is currently recruiting a new president. The incumbent, Kim Jung-tae, cannot seek a second term when his tenure expires at the end of October because the Financial Supervisory Commission reprimanded him last month. The appointment of a Kookmin Bank boss will be interesting. There is no controlling shareholder, and the government and politicians will find it hard to exercise influence in the sensitive situation. But the directors of Kookmin Bank have not been very smooth in handling the task. The six-man nomination committee set up in June was not well organized, and all the members of the board will participate in a new nomination committee that has until Oct. 11 to name a candidate.
Still, the committee stresses that it will bar any political influence and nominate a competent figure independently. The selection process at Kookmin Bank should set an example for leadership appointments at Korea’s financial service companies. Even if the new candidate is no Carly Fiorina, we should refrain from finding flaws and offer full support. Only then will a real market for chief executives begin to operate here, and we can expect to see our first Carly Fiorna soon.
by Lee Se-jung
The writer is an editorial writer for the JoongAng Ilbo.