New SKT CEO worked his way up to the top

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New SKT CEO worked his way up to the top

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Ha Sung-min

Ha Sung-min, SK Telecom’s new CEO, is not from a wealthy family and doesn’t have connections to a major politician or government official. Ha was a regular employee who worked his way up from the very bottom. Today, he heads Korea’s largest telecommunications company.

His ascent has given hope to employees that it is possible to get to the top without the traditional connections or a fancy background.

“Ha is a person who listens to what the people around him have to say,” a SK Telecom official said.

Ha graduated from high school in Busan and majored in business management at Sungkyunkwan University before joining SK Group, where he has worked for 28 years.

Ha, 54, is five years younger than his predecessor, Jung Man-won, who is now the SK Group vice chairman, and he is roughly 10 years younger than the CEOs of rival companies KT and LG U+.

Another SK official said Ha has a stellar work ethic and hasn’t joined subgroups within the company, which has helped him avoid possible conflicts within the organization.

Ha is also known as an ethical person and a good leader.

An official with an SK affiliate said he has never seen Ha try to court government officials, even though he has had opportunities to do so.

However, there are those who are skeptical of Ha’s lack of connections because of the telecommunications industry’s strong ties to the government. For example, former government officials often become CEOs of major telecommunications companies after they leave office.

“I lack experience compared to the CEOs of our competitors, but there are 4,600 employees behind me who are watching me closely,” Ha said. “As their leader, I will not let them down.”


By Lee Na-ree [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]

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