Samsung promotes 294 executives in reshuffle

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Samsung promotes 294 executives in reshuffle


Samsung Group announced executive promotions on Friday, which included four foreign employees and nine women elevated to executive positions.

Following a president-level reshuffle earlier this week, the scale was modest compared to previous years. The number of people moving into executive positions stood at 294, the lowest since 2008.

The slimmed down promotions reflect challenges facing Samsung, as key affiliates such as Samsung Electronics, Samsung Engineering and Samsung Heavy Industries all suffered either stagnant revenue growth or massive losses this year. In hard times, the group tends to seek stability over radical changes.

Emphasis was placed on Kim You-mee at battery manufacturer Samsung SDI, who became the first female executive vice president at Samsung, a post right below president. Below the executive vice president position are the senior vice president and vice president.

Kim, who currently works at a division in charge of making small-size batteries, is credited with spearheading the development of many industry-first batteries, including a cylindrical battery with a capacity of 1650 mAh back in 1998.

The 57-year-old entered Samsung SDI in 1996 after working at state-run research institutes.

Kim is among 29 employees who climbed the ladder to executive vice president across Samsung units. There are 68 new senior vice presidents and 197 vice presidents.

Five of the new executive vice presidents come from the device solutions division that develops semiconductors, reflecting the business segment’s significant gains in profits this year.

The five are Kang Ho-kyu, Kyung Kye-hyun, So Byung-se, Jeong Jae-heon and Choi Cheol.

They largely consist of researchers with solid engineering backgrounds. Kang who currently leads the process development team of Samsung Electronics’ R&D Center, earned a doctorate degree in materials science from Stanford University.

Kyung is known for his expertise in NAND flash memory.

By contrast, the once-crown jewel mobile division saw only two people moving up to executive vice president, as the division has recently shown less dramatic earnings than in the past.

Samsung’s mobile division experienced six straight quarters of year-on-year quarterly declines until the second quarter, squeezed by Apple at the top and Xiaomi at the lower end.

Although the division finally returned to a year-on-year gain in the third quarter, the quarter’s operating profit increase of 36 percent from a year earlier falls short of deserving celebration; the base figure in the previous third quarter was one of the worst in recent years.

On the other hand, the semiconductor business of the device solutions division pulled off a record operating profit of 3.66 trillion won ($3.14 billion) in the third quarter, and the device solutions division accounted for 62.9 percent of Samsung Electronics’ entire profit.

The executive vice presidents-to-be at other Samsung units include Kwag Jin-oh and Kweon Young-chan of Samsung Display, Hur Kang-heon of Samsung Electro-Mechanics, Sean Kae of Samsung SDS and Kim Nam-soo of Samsung Life Insurance. Samsung C&T, a de facto holding company of Samsung Group with a broad business portfolio, also has new executive vice presidents in each business area, including Oh Se-chul in the construction division, Park Cheol-kyoo in the fashion business and Koh Jung-suk for the trade business.

Amid the narrowing promotions, some managed to be promoted earlier than normal.

Samsung Electronics’ Kim Hak-rae will be promoted to senior vice president from vice president two years earlier than scheduled since he contributed to enhancing the manufacturing process of metal and glass smartphone bodies.

The semiconductor division also has two figures who leapfrogged two years early.

Appointed as senior vice president, Sim Sang-pil is credited with leading the mass production of mobile processor 14-nanometer FinFET, while Kim Hoo-sung is promoted to vice president for his role in developing 14-nanometer NAND flash memory.

Samsung Electronics also included non-Korean employees on its roster of promotions. Three of the four workers belong to the chip division at Samsung Electronics.

They include Michael Raiford of Samsung Austin Semiconductor and Kevin Moreton of Samsung Semiconductor. Both will be promoted to vice president. JD Lau, who works at the China office of Samsung Electronics, also received a promotion for expanding semiconductor sales in the North China region. Justin Denison of Samsung Electronics America’s product strategy and marketing also moved up to become vice president.

The announcement is considered a decision by Jay Y. Lee as he expands his role while his father, Chairman Lee Kun-hee, remains hospitalized.

Earlier this week, the group promoted Koh Dong-jin, executive vice president at Samsung Electronics in charge of mobile research and development, to president of the mobile communications business.

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