Lee Kun-hee’s firm business conviction contributes to success of Samsung

If  Lee Kun-hee, the Chairman of SAMSUNG,  Korea’s largest conglomerate were to provide his date, place and time of birth to an Indian astrologer, Mr. Lee may get very revealing insights to the course of events in his life.

According to the Indian astrologers, the twelve planets impact lives of individuals depending on their position in the birth chart of an individual.

It is believed that Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C. said, “Nothing remains the same”. This adage is proven right by looking closely at the life of Mr. Lee Kun-Hee.

In 2008, having suffered a humiliating setback, Mr. Lee Kun-Hee, owing to the Samsung slush funds scandal, officially resigned, and stated, “We, including myself, have caused troubles to the nation with the special probe; I deeply apologize for that and I’ll take full responsibility for everything, both legally and morally.” Within a short time, on December 29, 2009, the South Korean government moved to pardon Lee Kun-hee.

Notwithstanding the setback, he once again led and spearheaded his companies. Samsung Electronics, with sales of $155 billion in 2011, and became the world’s largest memory chip and flat screen television producer. Samsung Electronics also pulled in its highest revenues ever from its growing mobile phone business.

Today, with a net worth of 8.3 billions of US dollars in March 2012, Mr. Lee Kun-hee is rubbing shoulders with the world’s richest people in the Forbes list of global billionaires and carrying the number one position in the Korean industrial scene.

Yet, as “Nothing remains the same”, Mr. Lee is once again facing problems — of a family feud. For the first time in 25 years, he is likely to hold a separate memorial service to commemorate the group’s deceased founder, Lee Byung-chul, a traditional Korean ceremony where family attendance is mandatory.

Understanding the life and travails of Lee Kun-hee may not be very difficult for the Indian astrologers since they would chart the movements of the planets through his natal chart and somewhat predict the happenings in his life.

For us mortals to understand this, we just have to follow his business philosophy. Way back, in the early 1990s, believing that his companies were overly focused on producing massive quantities of low-quality goods and that it was not prepared to compete in quality, perhaps believing in the Buddhist philosophy, Lee famously said to his employees, “Change everything except your wife and kids”.

In an interview, Lee expressed pride in the fact that Samsung attracts the brightest minds in South Korea but added that his new goal is to attract talent from all over the world to ensure that Samsung will remain one of the top companies in the world for years. This became clear to us in India when Samsung Electronics commenced its operations in India in December 1995.

Today, Samsung is a leading provider of consumer electronics, IT and telecom products in the Indian market. Samsung India is the Regional Headquarters for Samsung’s South West Asia operations, which provides employment to over 8,000 employees with around 6,000 employees being involved in R&D. In 2010, Samsung India achieved a sales turnover of US$3.5 billion.

India, the world’s second-largest mobile phone market after China, is key to Samsung’s growth and it will do everything it takes to tap the next big opportunity. According to GFK Nielsen, the current urban market share stands at around 23.4 percent in value, and by the end of this year, Samsung expects to reach the target of 40 percent.”

Smart Samsung is outsmarting Nokia with their smart phones segments and Samsung has already left the Finnish company far behind at least in India if not in the world. In 2011, market of Nokia smart phones shrunk by over 50 percent because Samsung came out with phones with different operating platforms like Symbian, Android and Windows Phone, as also the proprietary ‘bada’ platform.

Looking at the socio-economic situation in India, apart from research and development, Samsung has given great importance to Corporate Social Responsibility concepts for the communities where it operates. Its CSR programs respond to the social and environmental needs and seek to give back to communities that support the company.

‘Samsung Hope Project’ in the areas of education, culture, sports, social welfare and community development stem out of the interest Mr. Lee holds close to his heart.

In India, Samsung manufactures colour televisions (including 3D, LED and LCD Televisions), mobile phones, refrigerators, washing machines and split  air conditioners. Samsung commenced operations of its second state–of-the-art manufacturing complex in November 2007.

With a huge growing middle class population, disposable incomes and upward looking economy, India was the right choice for Samsung to make huge investments here.

The Economist quotes Barry Eichengreen of the University of California, Berkeley, as saying that Korean conglomerates are “among the most technologically and commercially progressive agents in the Korean economy”.

The British legacy of licenses required for setting up of industry and over-staffed lethargic bureaucracy have been the bane for rapid development of India.  It is only in the 60s that South Korea was one of the poorest countries in the world, with an income per head on a par with the poorest parts of Africa.

Just last year “The Economist” wrote,  “By the end of 2011 it [South Korea] will be richer than the European Union average, with a gross domestic product per person of $31,750, calculated on a basis of purchasing-power parity (PPP), compared with $31,550 for the EU. South Korea is the only country that has so far managed to go from being the recipient of a lot of development aid to being rich within a working life”.

Whatever the stars foretell or the Indian astrologer predicts…Samsung under the keen eye of the great pioneer industrialist, Lee Kun-hee, will only shine brighter for he firmly believes that, “”One genius can feed millions of others. For the upcoming era where creativity will be the most important driver of business success, we need to hire the best. The economic value of one genius is more than $1 billion.”

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