CEOs’ rising wanderlust all business

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CEOs’ rising wanderlust all business

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Chairmen at major conglomerates strove to prevent their companies from falling into financial difficulties this year by ramping up their overseas business trips, a concept dubbed “management by wandering around.”

They both encouraged, and put pressure on, their employees by keeping a closer eye on overseas branches and business operations.

This is considered one of the secrets of success for Korean businesses, which this year have endured turbulent times relatively well.

For example, Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S2 beat Apple’s iPhone in terms of its global market share in the third quarter, and Hyundai Motor Group achieved its largest-ever earnings both at home and abroad.

Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee is known for his “airport management” style, as he often makes important comments to media or his managers whenever he leaves or enters the country.

In September, he departed for Tokyo, San Francisco and New York. After he spent the first half of the year working overseas as a member of the International Olympic Committee, he again left Korea in the second half for Japan and the U.S. on business trips.

He held meetings with figures in Japan’s business circle and visited the headquarters of Corning, Samsung’s partner of four decades. When he returned home in October, he brought with him a critical message.

“The global economy is still at risk, and we have got to do more,” he told reporters at the airport. “We should keep looking forward and run towards our goal.”

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo has also shown an exemplary management style by wandering the globe on key business trips this year, including stops in the U.S. in June and Europe in September.

He also checked out the operation of production facilities and dealerships in Los Angeles, Alabama and Georgia, visited a plant in the Czech Republic and attended the Frankfurt Motor Show to keep up with the latest trends in the auto industry.

“Despite uncertainties in Europe, we need to roll out more aggressive marketing activities by featuring new strategic cars,” Chung told executives and employees at the Czech plant.

He also flew to China twice in April and November to monitor the quality of local products, with his efforts credited for helping the Korean auto group become the world’s fifth-largest.

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won also had a busy year.

Instead of taking a vacation during the Lunar New Year, he spent two weeks in Brazil and then headed to Australia to deal with resource development.

Chey then visited a plant run by SK Lubricants in Indonesia in April, and didn’t hesitate to venture to more remote outposts, including a rubber farm in Kalimantan. Company officials say he worked tirelessly all year, and these efforts were reflected in the group’s performance. It exceeded 100 trillion won ($86.43 billion) in sales as of the third quarter.

“This year’s goal was to expand our global reach, focusing more on the development of resources,” said Nah Yuna at the company. “The chairman tried to make more global connections.”

Posco CEO Chung Joon-yang visited more than 10 countries this year to demonstrate his own “global management” style.

With an emphasis on securing resources overseas, Chung expanded Posco’s global business scope from Asia to Latin America and Africa. Posco’s ultimate goal is to raise its self-sufficiency rate for raw materials to 60 percent.

He started the first business trip of the year by flying to Africa and visiting Cameroon, Congo, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. In May, he flew to the Latin American countries of Honduras, Colombia and Ecuador.

Chung met with the presidents of Honduras and Colombia to sign an investment deal for infrastructure and to discuss the co-development of resources. He was also in Turkey to celebrate the completion of a steel mill in September.


By Song Su-hyun [ssh@joongang.co.kr]

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