THERE IS a man who has devoted himself to managing companies for 38 years. Of course, a 38-year business career is amazing, but something more amazing about him is that he has successfully managed companies in five ifferent areas: oilrefining; public relations; IT; hotel; and travel industries. As well as his outstanding career in his field, he is also wellknown for his variety of broad interests; for his devotion to wine, he received a knighthood. His name is Shim Jay-hyuk ('65, Dept. of Business Admin.) who is a specialist in his field and simultaneously a generalist. He thinks that not only being a specialist in one's own field but also having diverse experiences and knowledge is essential in the current modern society. Now, The Yonsei Annals delivers his messages to you, so pay attention to his words.
How was your school life at Yonsei Univ.?
In the second semester of my freshman year, I started to work as a student reporter at The Yonsei Chunchu. It was an extraordinary experience for me. Though I could not fully enjoy friendship with my classmates, I obtained nformation about school easily, and there were many opportunities to talk with professors about controversial issues. I was also proud of myself for being a messenger to Yonseians. I worked as a reporter for two years, and sometimes dreamed about being a reporter in the future. However, my father, who worked in journalism at that time, recommended that I make use of my major, so I started studying business very diligently. I am still interested in journalism, so I am regularly participating in the Conference of Yonsei Journalists as an honorary member.
Tell us about your life as a manager.
After I graduated school in 1972, I started my career at Yukong, an oil refining company, which now turned into GS Caltex. After a few years of working, I was promoted to the head of the LG publicity team. Then, after working as a vice-president at LG Telecom, I was appointed to the position of CEO at the Grand Intercontinental Hotel and worked there for eight years. Now I am the CEO of Redcap Tour. This is a brief summary of my whole career. Many people are surprised that my career involves diverse fields. However, my entire career is related to customer service industries. Since the basic concept of management is similar for every ndustry, managing companies in a variety of areas is not as difficult as people imagine. Though every single industry is based on some particular technologies, the art of selling products to customers is applied to every business. Successful customer relationship management is the core of business, where meeting customer needs is the most significant challenge. Of course, I was worried about changing field of expertise. Maybe it was like changing majors at university, so I frequently had to study the new field. Certainly it was tough for me, but my curiosity made learning less stressful. I also put great value on relationships between people. This is a secret of my success in business. I always worked hard in order to get along with others well. Humanity is a resource in and of tself, I think. As I have worked in the service industry, I can maintain relationships with many kinds of people. It was not only helpful in running a business, but also helpful in understanding new fields. It is a kind of synergy. Good interpersonal relationships make businesses more efficient, and a more efficient business creates other relationships. It helped me when I changed my business field, so I could overcome subsequent difficulties more easily.
How do you define "management"?
In the past, managing a company was like conducting an orchestra. As a conductor conducts an orchestra, a manager designs strategies for the future and leads the company. Of course, coordinating employees, developing products and satisfying customer needs was also essential for a manager at that time. However, these days, a manager is rather similar to a jazz music conductor. Jazz music is not only accompanied by an original score. Many techniques and ad libs are added to the score in order to complete the performance. Today's management business environment is similar to a jazz music performance, in that its circumstances and conditions change very quickly. In this aspect, creativity and adaptation skills, which are ad libs in jazz music performance, are needed by managers in order to succeed in business.
Would you tell us about your affection for alcohol, especially for wine?
In the early days of my career, I had lots of chances to go on business trips abroad, and my curiosity led me to try local food and alcohol. Whenever I found something delicious or peculiar, I tried to get some information about it. Alcohol, especially wine, caught my eye. Every wine has its own flavor and scent. It fascinated me, so I started studying wine. Thanks to my knowledge of wine I have lectured several times about it; so I was dubbed a knight in the Commanderie du Bontemps de Medoc et des Graves. It is an honorary post that is given to the people who are greatly devoted to the development of the wine industry. Though it has no practical use, I am proud of it because it implies my contribution to wine.
Tell us about your "generalist" aspect.
Knowledge is power. Especially for jobs related to service industries, cultural knowledge cannot be over emphasized. When I was the CEO of a hotel, I changed all the pictures on the wall. In a hotel, atmosphere is a very important factor necessary to attract customers. Every detail must receive meticulous attention before I change the pictures. Since I was not an expert in art, I studied a lot. Though there were many specialists in arts, I did not want to depend on them completely. In order to ensure better results, I needed to correlate my knowledge of art with my basic management skill. Thus, I studied the specialized area thoroughly, at least enough to ask specialists some specific as well as detailed questions. I dreamed of being such a generalist who can manage specialists from a variety of fields. If a manager can make all the experts cooperate with each other, business will surely be successful. If you want to be a generalist, follow these three steps. Firstly, find something interesting that catches your eyes. Curiosity makes studying much easier because it naturally motivates you to learn new things. Secondly, participate actively in everything. You have to directly experience life and its challenges, especially on your own. Lastly, do not give up until you reach a certain level. When you can feel that you realized something, your pride will make you strive more and more.
Any last words to Yonseians?
Yonsei Univ. is one of the best universities in Korea. However, the fact that you graduated from Yonsei Univ. does not guarantee your success. What matters is not your academic degree, but your ability. Thus, you have to develop your own ability and competence. Being a specialist in your major is just a basis for future success. In addition to competence in your major, general knowledge is necessary. Studying a variety of areas will improve yourself as well as enrich your life. Moreover, I want to emphasize the importance of creativity. Creative as well as imaginary thinking can help you to be competent in almost every field. However, it does not ome naturally to your mind, so you have to train yourself and make a conscious effort to analyze diverse experiences. Knowledge obtained through "real life" experiences cannot be forgotten.
Commanderie du Bontemps de Medoc et des Graves
It is an honorary post that is given to the people who are greatly devoted to Bordeaux wine. The Bordeaux wine maker community, Confrery, selects the receiver who is thought to have greatly contributed to the popularization of wine. The formal French President Jacques Rene Chirac, Japan's formal Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro, and actor Jackie Chan are among the winners. The awarding ceremony is the main event of VINEXPO, which means wine EXPO.