I’m under a lot of pressure at the moment to make multiple big decisions that will have a deep impact in the company’s future. POSCO’s current financial structure is faced with various issues, to say the least. In order to break through this critical moment, we must manufacture and sell a lot of steel and generate a lot of profit. This need led us to our new initiative that is “Solution Marketing.” Solution marketing, in our terms, is bringing our unique hardware – steel products – and software – insights on how to use a given technology to the greatest effect – together. The idea is to secure customer loyalty by forming a sound solution with these two elements.
Next in the line of focus is new business. I keep a look out for important new projects which seem promising for the company, and put concentrated investment on them. In addition, I focus on employees as well as new business. I always care about employees and their needs. I also think of what I can do to make my employees become happier. I do not agree that a higher income is the only thing that employees care about and want from the company. I always try to make POSCO become the best company, and that all employees are happy.
The team of Innovative POSCO 1.0, established on January 29, 2014, has been working under the new vision POSCO the Great on discovering 380 new business projects until March 14. POSCO employees engage in short term “Quick-Win” projects in stages. By cutting down the number of senior management and introducing project specialists named POSCO Certified Professionals (PCP) or an executive-level project manager, we were able to radically boost decision making speed by trimming down the organization and establish a project-based management infrastructure. In addition, a revamp in the organizational structure brought the number of divisions down from six to four, which are: Steel Business Division, Steel Production Division, Finance and Investment Division, and Corporate Infrastructure Division. We also installed the Value Management Department under CEO supervision to support the successful implementation of Innovative POSCO 1.0.
On May 16, we transferred all discovered new projects to each division, and the head of each division organized the team in charge and established detailed kick off plan to implement and discover Quick-Win assignments. The ‘Great Work Place Commission’ is taking steps to elicit real and tangible improvement in the workplace by merging and discarding certain administrative processes and education policies. Setting EVA (Economic Value Added) as a core performance indicator of POSCO and POSCO group affiliates, efforts are being made to lay the foundation for upholding company values and bolster work engagement by increasing the influence of evaluation.
Revolutionary projects that will change the future of POSCO will soon be implemented in full swing. I hope all of you will regard yourselves as the owner of POSCO and participate enthusiastically and voluntarily.
Although we have been making significant investments both domestically and internationally, sluggish return from large investments during the past few years took a toll on company value and credit ratings. Therefore, I have concentrated on ‘Innovative POSCO 1.0’ to overcome the current problematic situation and prepare the next 50 years of POSCO under ‘POSCO the Great’ since I have taken CEO position. I will change the POSCO’s management paradigm, and it is going to be the big transform from the external growth to internal growth.
Utilizing cash generated from the Chinese super-cycle, POSCO has made aggressive investments for a revival of economic growth for the past few years. Despite massive investments, however, sales and profitability in the steel business dwindled due to deteriorating management conditions. I expect the new projects will take time to be settled because all new projects are at an early stage. Under unfavorable circumstances, all employees and executives should work together to improve internal stability and secure profitability. In light of this, I am planning a full re-evaluation and revamp of POSCO group’s investment businesses.
Firstly, steel investment will prioritize on boosting core steel competitiveness by developing high value-added products, enhancing solution marketing, and establishing a global customer service infrastructure. As for global investment, businesses that are currently under review will be subject to a full-scale re-evaluation, with the main priority being the early stabilization of international production sites which had been adding a burden to the group’s financial structure. In addition, new growth business will promote future mega growth engine through select and concentration. I believe in ‘source material’ and ‘clean energy’ will be the future growth engine for POSCO under the evaluation of technology competitiveness and business fitness of what we have been working on. As POSCO has been leading national economic development with steel business which is the ‘rice for industry’, source material and clean energy business is expected to be a new engine to lead POSCO’s mega growth in the future.
For the “POSCO the Great” ideal to work, we need creative people. There are two types of the creative individual I have in mind: the Expert and the Molder. The Expert creates novel complex technology by utilizing his/her experience and knowledge accumulated throughout a long and focused devotion to a certain field. The Molder fuses professional knowledge from multiple fields to form new values. Because it is difficult for a single individual to have both qualities, we plan to select and support the growth and development of promising individuals for each type.
New employees are trained to become the Expert through the PCP (POSCO Certified Professional) program. A PCP is a talented individual who is knowledgeable of key operations/installations/control technology and is responsible for carrying out strategic tasks and solving technical issues that may emerge in the field. We plan to select experts in commerce, taxation, technical support and overseas as PCP and actively support them as key figures. Meanwhile, we are training the Molders by circulating them in various fields. The Molders are talented individuals who have work experience in various fields including operations and maintenance engineering. Additionally, we are providing education opportunities including MBA/study abroad programs, e-learning, and humanities classes for leaders. We believe that individual effort and an enthusiastic attitude are as important as organizational support. My philosophy in the development of human resources is to establish a virtuous cycle of employees becoming creative experts by utilizing their company’s programs, and their excellent work contributing to the overall increase in the company’s competitiveness.
The most rewarding work was doing focused research on automobile steel, the kind of steel which became POSCO’s lifeline since the 2000’s. I think that period was when we began to conduct “real” research which allowed us to develop unique products and improve POSCO’s competitiveness and productivity. The person who made all this possible was the RIST director Kang Chang-oh. When he was the manager of the steelworks, director Kang used to complain that “researchers are goofs who do nothing but spend money on going to overseas exhibitions.” I seriously considered changing my job when he came over as director of the research center, but he turned out to be a man with an extraordinary sense of responsibility. When he was at the field, he complained about the research center because it did not contribute much to improving the field. When he came to the research center, however, he actively sought for ways to improve the role of the research center. Director Kang and I had many conversations, and the result of our debates on which technology to develop for the future of POSCO was that we should focus on automobile steel. I believe that behind POSCO’s world-class steel today lies director Kang’s automobile steel-focused research policy.
Located at Gwangyang is the Automobile Rolled Steel Research Center, constructed in January 21, 2003. There used to be a heliport for VIPs at the façade of the research center. The problem used to be that we needed a place for an experiment lab facility to develop automobile rolled steel. While sharing ideas in a corridor with director Kang on where would be a good place to install the facility, I looked at the heliport outside the corridor and said, “That heliport would be nice.” Director Kang responded with a silent nod. The next day, he gave me a call from Seoul ordering me to get the automobile rolled steel research center built on the heliport. He had submitted a proposal and gotten approval from the president as soon as he arrived at Seoul. This is how the Automobile Rolled Steel Research Center at Gwangyang was born, and the center became the seed for POSCO’s competitiveness in the field of automobile steel today. It is indeed very rewarding.
POSCO’s technological levels have changed since the year 2000. Prior to 2000, we simply borrowed new technology from Nippon Steel or Thyssen-Krupp. Afterwards, however, we began to develop unique POSCO technology that no other company had. Unique technology is POSCO’s biggest asset in shaping future competitiveness. Products like automobile steel and electrical steel were developed after continuous research. In short, it was POSCO’s competitiveness was spearheaded by its unique technology. The pride of the researcher is to develop a unique product through single-handed research instead of simply borrowing technology. Of course, R&D alone cannot lead to the development of new technology. Mutual cooperation between the engineer at the field and the researcher is needed for a new product to actually be produced, and for that product to be sold cooperation with the marketing team is also necessary. I think such mutually cooperating system is the source behind shaping the future. POSCO’s competitiveness is the integrated and close cooperation of R&D, Manufacture and Sales.
First of all, I thank them with all my heart when I meet them at the field. They all sweat profusely while dealing with melted iron in extreme heat (1,500~1,600℃) with many unexpected risks around, and also sacrifice themselves by working in the cold weather depending on the location. If I am asked as to what I want from them the most, I always answer that I really hope every single employee to work safely. Even a trivial finger injury can make daily activities difficult. Losing one’s life is the disaster of disasters. An entire family may be affected with despair. That said, safety is the most important element. It is my hope to make a work environment that every employee can work safely. I repeat this idea over in my head whenever I go to the field and see my employees’ faces and shake their hands.
It might be an overstatement to say this is my life philosophy, but there are two guidelines that make me behave in a certain way. First of all, I always make an effort to make things better. So, I always keep the phrase ‘No pain, no gain’ in my mind. One cannot see the joy of pleasure without making an effort and experiencing how bitter it was to go through hard times. The saying always keeps me from getting lazy. In terms of personal relationship, I always keep the saying ‘People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.’ Everyone is different. Therefore, it always causes trouble when trying to understand others in one’s own perspective. This is the saying that I have in mind when I try to understand others in their own perspectives. Also, I aspire to be like ‘water.’ Water always changes shape depending on its container. Water is life’s fundamental element and exerts great force when focused on a singular point. This is how I want to be.
My dream is to make POSCO competitive and also a company that is much prosperous for the next generation. This might be the same to all the CEOs and also to employees. Speaking of the corporations, people tell to ‘manage the company for making the profit of stakeholders as high as possible.’ To me, I consider the role of CEO to make employees inspired and motivated to work. When employees are happy and satisfied with what they do, it automatically brings the profit to stakeholders. If every single employee at POSCO is happy and satisfied with what they do at work, POSCO will definitely be grown. In this sense, ‘the company with employees that are happy with work’ is the most elements for POSCO to be the outstanding company. I would be the CEO to make such a company.
POSCO is different from most of other corporations since our company was made by funds from a claim to Japan as a sacrifice of our ancestors. Therefore, we have to be responsible and in charge of making the way out for POSCO. I would say about three spirits to make such dreams come true. The first is the *Right Turn Spirit as the foundation of our company. *Saemaeul spirit that encouraged us to be well off when we were poor back in the days is the second one. Lastly, the phrase of POSCO ‘Resources are limited, Creativity is unlimited’ is what we should have in mind. Company only grows when something new is accomplished by creativity. Making new technology and methodology based on creativity along with new marketing strategies are specifically needed. Hereupon, everyone at POSCO shall make the greatest effort to build competitiveness of POSCO. POSCO will be developed and grown further if right turn spirit, Saemaeul spirit, and creativity are added. I sincerely hope employees of POSCO to actively participate in ‘POSCO the Great’.
*Right Turn Spirit: The ‘right turn spirit’ comes back to the time when POSCO founder Park Tae Jun was working to construct the first iron and steel mill. The name comes from his legendary saying, “It is the matter of life and death. If we fail, we’ll come out of our offices, turn right, and drown ourselves into the East Sea. We never fail. Never.”
*Saemaeul Sprit (Saemaeul Undong Movement): The new community movement for rural development in South Korea in the 1970s led by the government.