"GOOD JOB, Lycos!" A few
years ago, this was one of the most famous TV commercial campaigns. Just looking
at the commercial, not many people could imagine Lycos as a portal site.
Frankly, not many people thought such an Internet site would be advertised on
TV. Who touched off a boom to advertise Internet sites? His name is Kah
Jong-hyun, (?6 Dept. of Business Admin.), then a CEO of Lycos Korea.
as a lawyer
A lot of people regard Kah as a
young CEO, but Kah has a somewhat interesting career. He not only completed his
MBA at the University of Chicago but also managed obtaining JD (Juris Doctor)
from New York Univ. "While studying MBA, I saw a lot of people taking a course
for JD. Thus I followed them and attained a JD after finishing MBA. I assumed
that legal training could help me improve my issue spotting skills," says Kah.
In fact, he worked as a lawyer for Skadden Arps (law firm in New York) dealing
with cases in the Silicon Alley for four years. One of the reasons he had
resigned was because of a case with Mirae Corporation. "The corporation was in
need of a person who was aware of Wall St. conditions, and I was in need of a
chance to help Korean society. While working for American companies, I could see
lots of Korean lawyers losing. Seeing that, I thought I should be of help to
Korean society in any way," says Kah. Besides his turmoiled state of mind,
another reason he quit was because he had always considered his career as a
business manager, not a lawyer.
becomes a CEO
While working in Silicon
Alley, he could see Internet business rising as the next biggest industry. Thus,
when Jung Mun-sool, the owner of both Lycos Korea and Mirae Corporation
requested Kah to become CEO of Lycos Korea, he thought it was a challenging yet
interesting chance. You may then ask how working for Lycos can be good for
Korean society when Lycos is another American company. "Lycos had branches all
over the world and I could sell content invented in Lycos, in the name of
Korea," explains Kah. In fact, Lycos Korea had managed to become the most
dominating company among 42 worldwide Lycos branches which sold much of its
unique content to other Lycos branches such as Japan and America.
Later, Lycos Korea was acquired by SK Telecom and Kah moved
to SK Telecom. "I felt my heart burn when I recognized the situation Lycos was
going through for I had devoted all my energy to enhance it. SK treated me
fairly. It made me see that working in SK Telecom was another opportunity
to develop Korean Internet business combined with mobile service," states Kah.
In fact, numerous projects were developed by Kah in SK.
Being a CEO
For Yonseians who dream of
becoming an excellent businessman, Kah emphasized the importance of having a
theme. What he meant by having a theme was selecting the kind of business one
would like to be related to. For example, Kah had always been curious about
Internet technology business, which made him work for Hewlett-Packard before
taking an MBA course, work in Silicon Alley as a lawyer, run Lycos Korea and
currently work in SK Telecom. Kah followed the path that was somehow involved in
the Internet business. "Avoid becoming functional when doing business, such as
an expert in marketing or financing. Try to use various business skills to focus
on one business field such as Internet, food or entertainment," suggests Kah.
Kah also added that various activities and knowledge accumulated in one's
university life would support one's ability to focus on the field.
Speaking of which, he was asked about his university
life. He had various experiences. He played as an actor of Yonsang Drama Team
(performing dongahree of Dept. of Bus. Admin.) and was a chairperson of YESA
(dongahree for exchange students) after his one year exchange program to U.C.
Davis. He had to be a diligent student in class, since his name was always the
first to be called, as his last name is the first letter in Korean alphabet. Kah
often cleaned the blackboard and put coffee cans on professor? desks. "It may be
stressful to be a diligent student in university but I thought if I made a
little effort and made the professor feel happy, it could be good for rest of
the students too," says Kah.
Although he was a hard working student in class, he also
enjoyed the Shinchon night life; visiting night clubs, playing games in arcades
and drinking till late night. Yet, he always made up for the time he spent
having fun. "I read books for as much of the time I had spent hanging out. My
friends are getting ahead of me and I should not be left behind, should I?"
mentions Kah. Among his university experiences, Kah cherished the time he had
spent with his girlfriend, who is now his lifetime partner and mother of his two
beautiful girls. "There were eight female students in Dept. of Bus. Admin. while
340 male students were there. I went out with one of the precious women in our
department so I guess I beat the competition!" says Kah with a happy smile on
He pointed out three important factors to advise Yonseians. One
was to start a consistent life style, meaning to build a few habits which can
help elevate one's ability. For instance, he constantly practiced memorizing 20
new English words since he was a freshman and is still doing it. Also, he made
it a habit to write small notes after reading a book to remember his
impressions. "Little habits piled up become the ability that distinguishes you
from others," includes Kah.
Next, he stated that making a human relationship
network is also substantial. Kah accentuated that university life is the best
chance to meet diverse friends. Kah said that listening to people with complete
different ideas helped him cultivate the power of understanding the world. Kah
quoted the saying, "There is no such thing as free lunch," to explain the
importance of building interrelationship which result in an open human
emphasized the importance of good GPA. Kah says Yonseians are all students,
whose priority should be put on studying. "People should study their major
subjects very hard and earn high GPA for sure. But they should also try to learn
everything the university provides. Attend distinct classes to extract as much
as you can from school curriculum," requests Kah. Kah himself attended various
classes such as philosophy, English literature and even graduate school classes.
As far as I am concerned, I
regard him as a powerful trend reader. His desk was a center of up-to-date
technology; two PDAs, two notebook computers, two MP3 players, and two cellular
phones. He had the 20s spirit. Talking to him did not make me feel he was 20
years older than me since he knew exactly what young people were interested in.
Another impression I had was that Kah tried to see what he could earn from every
experience he had in a very positive way. Kah was a person whose brain was busy
searching for the best. I guess it was his bright young ideas combined with
accumulated consistent habits that made him become one of the leaders of Korean
society in his 30s.
Photographed by Doh