Hyundai names 1st foreign president

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Hyundai names 1st foreign president

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From left: Peter Schreyer, Kim Kyung-bae and Chai Yang-sun.


Hyundai Motor Group, which has Korea’s top two automakers Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors under its wing, conducted a major year-end executive-level reshuffle yesterday, mainly moving up people in its research and development sectors to shore up product quality.

The nation’s No. 2 conglomerate, led by Chairman Chung Mong-koo, said in a release that 379 of its employees have been promoted for next year, with 116 moving up at Hyundai Motor and 57 at its small affiliate Kia Motors.

Peter Schreyer, the 59-year-old German-born chief design officer for Kia Motors, and Kim Kyung-bae, head of Hyundai Glovis, were the only executives promoted to president-level positions.

Schreyer will become the group’s first foreign president. The designer, who worked for Volkswagen and Audi before joining the Korean company in 2006, has been credited for upgrading the design of Kia models, especially its popular K-Series (K3, K5, K7 and K9).

The 48-year-old Kim is seen as one of the major forces behind Hyundai Glovis’ remarkable growth. The logistics firm marked operating profit of 112.2 billion won ($105 million) in the third quarter, up 31.8 percent from a year ago. Its Q3 sales also rose 2.3 trillion won, an on-year increase of 20.2 percent. The company is expected to break its quarterly sales record in the current quarter, according to a report by Shinyoung Securities.

Some 15 people were named vice presidents, 43 became executive directors (also known as senior vice presidents) and 56 were made managing directors. For lower-level executives, 122 have moved up to director-level positions while 138 were named assistant directors. Three were appointed as senior researchers.

For having major contributions to the group’s growth, 48 were fast-tracked via “advanced promotions,” up 26.3 percent from 2011.

However, the scale of reshuffle was 18.5 percent smaller than last year, with 86 fewer people promoted. In 2011, some 465 employees were moved up or sideways.

“With the uncertain economic environment and to further brace against the global slowdown, we have tried to ensure internal stability in our management,” Hyundai said in a statement.

Meanwhile, 39.3 percent of the promoted executives, or 149, came from R&D departments.

Industry insiders say this shows Hyundai is trying to push to improve its product quality and reinforce its proficiency in future technologies, especially in the realms of environmentally friendly cars and IT. In an apparent bid to beef up its competitiveness overseas, 97, or 25.6 percent, of those promoted hailed from its sales divisions.

Some sojourning employees and overseas staff were also rewarded as the world’s fifth-largest automotive group completed plants in Brazil and China this year.

In this traditionally male-dominated company, Chai Yang-sun, who manages Kia Motors’ marketing business, became just the second woman to be named an executive director. Kim Hye-kyoung, who is now an executive director at?Innocean?Worldwide, an advertising agency under Hyundai Motor Group, set the precedent in last year’s reshuffle before leaving the company.

The group said Chai was promoted for her hard work in brand communication.

Kia Motors joined the ranks of Interbrand’s 100 best global brands for the first time this year. The automaker’s brand value was estimated at $4.1 billion, putting it 87th on the list.

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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