SK Chair Chey gives pep talk, but warns not to rely on past

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SK Chair Chey gives pep talk, but warns not to rely on past

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Chey Tae-won

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won encouraged staff Wednesday, saying that overcoming the ongoing pandemic should strengthen the company’s fundamentals for the next big leap.

But simply relying on the company’s 67-year history won’t help at all, he warned.

“Our founder and the former chairman started this business in the ashes of the Korean War, survived two oil shocks and the Asian financial crisis. SK has grown to what it is today by overcoming massive crises,” Chey said.

“It’s now our time to write history - through not only enduring the Covid-19 situation, but doing it successfully by making it an opportunity for growth.”

The chairman added that 67 years in business doesn’t ensure survival.

“Without reading the big implications and flows of change, even if we do survive this crisis we won’t be able to continue business for long,” he said.

As the spread of the novel coronavirus prolonged and started affecting global economies, Chey ordered SK companies in late March to fundamentally change the way they do business.

Inefficient practices continued in the name of tradition were to be abolished.

Subsidiaries were to keep track of and analyze work-related data to establish a new system where staff are not evaluated on the amount of time they spend in the office but on performance.

SK was one of the most proactive companies to adopt telecommuting since late February when the number of confirmed coronavirus patients in Korea suddenly surged.

Chey’s request is also in line with a larger initiative for “deep change,” which the chairman has been emphasizing since 2016.

“Overcoming a crisis entails growth, pain and sacrifice, but nobody should be left behind - SK needs to be a “safety net” in the sense of protecting society,” he added.

Wednesday marked the conglomerate’s 67th anniversary. SK annually holds an event for the occasion each year, including one in 2018 when his father and late SK Chairman Chey Jong-hyun appeared on stage in hologram form.

Due to the new coronavirus, this year, the memorial event was replaced with an online session with executives sitting in their offices.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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