LG aims for new, but not too new, approach

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LG aims for new, but not too new, approach

LG Group’s first executive reshuffle under the leadership of new Chairman Koo Kwang-mo on Wednesday showed a definite shift in direction, but still saw most old-timers keep their positions.


A number of high-ranking executives were scouted from outside LG, while the head of LG Electronics’ mobile communications division was changed as the division’s sluggish performance dragged on. The group also promoted the largest number of employees into executives since 2004.

Still, LG decided to keep some familiar faces at the top, including LG Vice Chairman Kwon Young-soo, LG Electronics Vice Chairman Jo Seong-jin and LG U+ Vice Chairman Ha Hyun-hwoi.

A total of 185 executives were promoted group-wide, with 134 of them newly appointed to executive positions. Last year only 94 employees were made executives and 100 the year before. LG said the massive promotion was intended to enlarge the candidate pool for future chief executives of LG affiliates and nurture talented leaders from early on. The average age of newly-turned-executives is 48, with the youngest just 39 years old.

“Large promotions come as affiliates hope to prepare for the future, or the fourth industrial revolution,” LG said in a statement. “Also, among the 185 promotions, 60 percent were for executives from engineering departments or R&D.”

The group emphasized that the reshuffle was based on performance. While a large group of employees became executives, only one executive vice president was promoted to president.

Kim Jong-hyun, executive vice president of the energy solutions division at LG Chem, was promoted to president of the same division, which focuses on the battery business. The company said Kim was recognized for his role in winning new electric car battery orders.

Hwang Jeong-hwan, who headed the mobile communications business at LG Electronics, lost his role. The division was unable to avoid 14 consecutive quarters of operating losses until the quarter that ended September, though Hwang managed to gradually reduce the amount of losses during his one-year term. Hwang will now solely focus on his role at LG’s Convergence Business Development Office.

Instead, Brian Kwon, currently the president of LG’s home entertainment division, will head both his existing television-selling division and the mobile phone-selling division with the difficult goal of boosting the mobile business.

Apart from reshuffling the internal pool of executives, LG also brought in fresh talent from outside the group.

Hong Bum-shik, a partner at Bain & Company’s Seoul office and co-head of the firm’s regional telecommunications, media and technology practices, was appointed president of the management strategy team for LG’s holding company LG Corp. He will be in charge of managing the group’s business portfolios and merger and acquisition tactics.

Kim Hyung-nam, chief technology officer at Hankook Tire, was scouted to lead the vehicle component solutions division at LG Corp. As LG has set vehicle-related businesses as its future cash cow, Kim will bring together the expertise of auto parts business teams spread across all LG affiliates and craft group-wide strategies.

Shin Hak-cheol, vice chair and executive vice president of 3M, was appointed as new head of LG Chem earlier this year before the massive reshuffle. His major task is to systemize the battery maker’s global businesses.

Three other executives were scouted from outside the conglomerate.

With Wednesday’s reshuffle, there are now a total 29 female executives in LG Group, seven of whom were newly appointed. Considering there were only 14 in 2014, the number has doubled, though they account for only about four percent of the group’s 800 executives.

Among non-Korean employees, Zhongxun Sun was promoted.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]
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