EVP Asia and Pacific as well as Executive Search Consultant in South Korea
South Korea has population of about 51 million inhabitants and a geographical size about the same as Hungary or Iceland. South Korea is notable for its rapid economical development in a few generations from an underdeveloped nation to a developed, high-income economy. They are member of OECD since 1996 and the value of their currency the Won has been quite stable over the past decade. By nominal GDP, South Korea has the 4th largest economy in Asia and the 12th largest in the world. The country is known for its advanced manufacturing sector, which produces high-value products like semiconductors and automobiles and has many well-known companies like Samsung, Hyundai Motors, and SK Group.
What is your background and what attracted you to make a career change into becoming an Executive Search Consultant?
I was born and raised in Seoul Korea and got educated in US to a degree in economics at University of California Los Angeles. I started my career in investment and finance with firms like UBS and Morgan Stanley. My experience with Executive Search Consultants had been very positive and critical when I made my career moves in the past. This experience instilled me about my transition to Executive Search very naturally when an opportunity arose. Unlike many other careers this business we are in do not have to sell or take advantage of others – I love the idea of win-win business relationship.
What are your own focus areas as Executive Search Consultant?
As Managing Partner I focus on business development and client management for Executive Search services in South Korea. I have strong presence in the alternative investment area, especially Private Equity market. Over 70% of assignments are generated by PE clients of which 30% assignments are in the area of investment managers and 70% for PEs portfolio companies.
What can you tell us about AIMS International in South Korea?
AIMS International in South Korea has a strong presence with more than 10 years of strong business building as part of AIMS International global alliance. We currently have about 30 consultants with offices in our capital Seoul and in Busan, which our second biggest city and one of the biggest ports in the world. We are able to provide Executive Search Services to most major industries, especially to the area of IT and industrial manufacturing markets. During the recent Covid period many bio and life sciences businesses emerged as another major roaring market. The South Korean market is very familiar with Swedish brands and we want to expand further ties between the two countries.
What is South Koreas economy like?
As world’s top 10 economy Korea proves itself time and time again as Asia’s most important economy alongside with China and Japan. As a big global number one producer in the areas like semiconductor and mobile phones, South Korea has many competitive industry positions in the areas of technology, automotive, bio science, games and more. Recent and continued booming trend of M&As and corporate IPOs many make it possible for companies to enjoy in-organic growth and provide opportunities for new management changes.
How would you describe the Executive Search market in South Korea?
Our Executive Search business meaningfully began in the early 90s. Upon reaching new millennium especially posting 2010 market became quite saturated due to heavy reliance on multiple major HR portals (Saramin, Job Korea, Remember, Linkedin etc.). Many Executive Search Businesses have to compete with transactional database driven HR portals. In some areas, holistic Executive Search Processes often became luxury when timely infusion of candidate profiles highly valued in the respect of cost per value standard. Indeed, in the midst of this market saturation, Executive Search firms who deliver differentiated services and value driven results are often sought after by major conglomerates and fast growing companies.
What is the most important advice for a foreign company who wish to invest, establish or increase their presence in South Korea?
Korea’s economy and culture is very dynamic and opt for fast change. Foreign companies who wish to establish or increase their presence in Korea should be able to ready apt for change in trends and also keen to global dynamics. Assured, companies that bring real value to the market should be able to stick with long term business marketing without short term result.
You are the Executive Vice President of AIMS International Asia Pacific (APAC) – what are the challenges in this region and what are the strongest trends you see moving forward when it comes to finding and keeping top talent?
It has been a long waited desire that AIMS APAC generates more cross border business and more interconnection with Western and Africans partners. Unlike European countries, where traveling, meeting and calling partners are in the hands of convenience, Asian partners have more challenges doing the same thing as it encounters different time zones, trans ocean travelling and different business cultures by each country. Building solid business relationship, one by one, like our process as Swedish Korean business relationship – continue adding this embedded trust relationship would allow closer steps toward success.