Regular FeaturesPeople/Yonseian
Unstoppable devotion as a global CEOCEO of Starbucks Coffee Korea, Lee Seok-koo
Kang Jung-min Assisstant Reporter  |
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승인 2008.05.28  16:27:47
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AS SOON as one meets this global CEO, one can sense his clear and honest attitude. He always keeps his eyes on something that can be changed and throws himself at a challenge with enthusiasm. He finds a way to make his family, including hundreds of workers, safe and pleased. Let’s meet this open and ardent leader from Yonsei Univ., Lee Seok-koo (’69, Dept. of Business Admin.), President of Starbucks Coffee Korea.
Annals: What were your school days at Yonsei like?
Rather being obsessed in studying, I was affected by the violent atmosphere though my university life. As the first oil shock occurred in my junior year, domestic economy declined similarly to the case of the IMF crisis. Furthermore, university students had difficulties in getting jobs, since most enterprises set the rule that military service was the most necessary qualification. In the middle of my junior year, however, I applied for ROTC and became an official interpreter to prepare to step up in the society.
I think my campus life was divided into two parts: setting human networking and becoming a leader. In the former two years, the personal network was my number one priority, and ROTC helped me a lot to build up my personal network. In addition, in the latter two years, I improved crucial abilities as a global leader: leadership, responsibility, perfectionism, and a driving force.
2. What is your fundamental value as the CEO?
Since I started to serve as a CEO, I have been trying to find something I could do for others. Although I frequently sacrifice myself to keep this fundamental value, I never regret it. When I was the CEO of Westin Chosun Hotel, I tried to understand hidden difficulties, so I could not stop serving some basic but fundamental operations such as the doorman service or the kitchen work. Recently, I have been meeting our customers face to face as a barista and made coffee for them myself. Therefore, I spent much more time on thinking about some sacrificeis I could make to satisfy my family, employees, rather than wasting too much time on getting pleasure from material entertainments. Also, I think this attitude was the motivation for our fathers to revitalize the declining economy against the IMF crisis.
3. Can you explain about your motto in management?
It has been six years since I first became the CEO of an enterprise. I always put the great value on both globalization and localization. To balance these two kinds of phenomena, “Glocalization” is the most important purpose in management. Especially, as a leader who has responsibility in a joint venture company, it is important to keep a balance in this globalized society. Also, moral management means a lot to me, as well as to the corporations that I have served in. I always focus on moral co-existence under a clean-handed leader with precious business partners: the staffs. When it comes to my personality, I never pick up lost 1,000 won notes in the streets.
4. Any advice for Yonseians who have various visions?
One of the mentors of my life said “The wide, wide world, and lots of work to do.” If you aim at the international stage, you have to solve undiscovered problems by devoting yourself to saving your family as well as the world. Then, you can grasp the chance of a lifetime, and such opportunity never comes by chance, but by genuine efforts. Make your desirable society by completing “Dynamic Korea.”
  ▲ Lee Seok-koo('69, Dept. of Business Admin.)  
Lee Seok-koo joined Starbucks Coffee Korea Co., Ltd. as President & CEO of the company since 2007. Lee has demonstrated commitment to customer-focused, system and quality oriented management style. He has dedicated himself to forming a dynamic company culture, combined with transparent, fair and ethical business principles and continuous people development. In his new capacity as the fourth president of Starbucks Coffee Korea, Lee is excited to be part of the dynamic growth of the company, offering unique third place experience to Korean customers, as well as a good place to work for each partner and a good corporate citizen in every community we operate. His favorite coffee is Café Latte and Americano.
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