In Korean, there is a search engine used more than ‘Google.’ That is ‘Naver’, the country’s largest search engine. Many Koreans usually say “Ask Naver,” rather than saying “Google it” in Korean. Current Management Advisor for Naver, Sang-Heon Kim who has led Naver for 8 years as a CEO, is sharing his various stories in this interview.
Before he entered the IT industry, initially he had been a lawyer who graduated from Seoul National University and Harvard Law School. While Kim served as a judge of Seoul District Court, he asked himself ‘what do I really want?’ and realized that he wants to contribute to a company that grows rapidly and globally. Then, Kim joined LG Group and tried to experience many challenges in the global stage for 11 years. He has seen lots of changes which brought by the fast advanced internet technology. Finally, he joined Naver and worked hard with a mind-set of ‘back to the beginning’. This unique story of his career has been a hot issue for many people.
“Never settle for the present moment. When you are in the comfort zone, you have to think about the ‘next’ place to be. “
During his tenure as CEO of Naver, Kim led the company with KRW 4 trillion for sales and KRW 1 trillion for business profit increase based on his kind personality and a sense of balance in the management skill.
When S.H. Kim left Naver in March 2017, he received extraordinary reputations that his leadership led the company to become a global company overcoming several crisis.
“I think many of employees have worked hard together to make the company’s success.” he said.
For his resignation, he commented that “I’ve been thinking that a younger generation should be the next leader. I am glad to be able to leave the company at a very appropriate timing.”
The following contains edited excerpts of the interview:
Q. You have been doing various business not only in Korea but also overseas. Especially, ‘Line (Naver’s messaging service brand) has been known to achieve considerable success in China. How does the IT industry in China differ from Korea?
Kim: In fact, a few years ago, I thought that Korean internet service was the fastest and the best in the world. But now I can say that China is becoming the most advanced internet service provider in the world.
Looking at those changes, the differences between Korea and China come from the view of ‘regulation’. Chinese people are accustomed to think about regulations in the manner of ‘negative listings,’ so they tend to challenge all businesses by saying ‘everything is possible except for the regulations.’ Therefore, creative services and ideas could be born more actively in China than Korea.
Q. As the person who had been at the best position in fields of law and technology, and you might have considered top level MBA schools for your career. Also you received education from Seoul National University and Harvard. What did you make to choose CKGSB?
Kim: I always have had many curiosities about China. After hearing the CKGSB’s Korean EMBA, I researched a lot about CKGSB and learned that the school is known as the most prestigious business school in China.
First of all, CKGSB’s curriculum is composed not only of business management but also of economic and cultural aspects of China, so it is very attractive to learn a lot about China. Thanks to some modules occur in major cities of China, I was able to experience Chinese business sites.
Q. What benefits did you get specifically from the CKGSB’s program?
Kim: In my case, it was especially beneficial to experience real China based on regular visiting to China.
Chinese professors at CKGSB shared their in-depth insight, so I was able to understand various type of business issues from Chinese perspective. I learnt a lot about Chinese Internet business as well.
One of the best parts in this program is the corporate field visiting program. I was particularly impressed by the experience of visiting the real estate O2O e-commerce group ‘Fangdd.com’ and China’s leading new media platform ‘Toutiao’. I was able to visit these promising companies before they became well-known in Korea. I totally agree that it wouldn’t have been possible without the powerful network of CKGSB.
Q. To whom would you recommend the CKGSB EMBA program?
Kim: I would like to recommend the CKGSB’s Korean EMBA program to whom not only doing business in China as well as who encounter difficulties in business fields. You can learn a lot about the Chinese market.
To read the full interview with Sang-Heon Kim, business advisor at Naver, please click here.