Working with leading Korean companies growing their global presence helps the Korean economy and allows me to develop broader perspectives on economic and political decisions and become a more balanced world citizen.
I was born and raised in Seoul and joined McKinsey right after university graduation. My major was aesthetics, about as far away from a business major as possible. At the time I graduated I hadn’t been out of Korea for more than ten days during my entire life, so I was surprised and gratified that McKinsey hired me as a business analyst (BA).
Deciding on McKinsey
How I decided McKinsey was right for me is kind of a funny story. During my interview, one of the McKinsey partners gave me a chance to ask a question. I asked how he would choose between two candidates if he had one who was extremely good at only one thing (let’s say problem solving) and another person who was just good at several things. Surprisingly he chose the first candidate, and explained that McKinsey is looking for people who bring excellence that can be shared and developed in other people. McKinsey believes that people intrinsically want to develop and share their own strengths. People with spikes of excellence can help the organization grow and help all of us develop as distinctive individual leaders, which it cannot do with “good enough” people. McKinsey evaluates candidates not based on who they are on day one of being an analyst or associate, but what kind of leaders they could become in five to ten years. That long-term thinking and those high expectations made me decide to join McKinsey.
Working abroad and returning to McKinsey Korea
After two and half years as a BA, I wanted to work outside of Korea, and I was especially interested in Asia. But with limited experience, exposure, and language skills, it would not be easy to find a job outside of Korea. Fortunately, an ex-McKinsey colleague from Seoul offered me an opportunity to work in Singapore. I would get to travel around Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe working for an investment firm. It was a very fulfilling six years travelling around the world.
I returned to McKinsey Korea at the end of 2010, where I have been able to apply the experience and knowledge I learned while with the investment firm. I mostly work with leading Korean companies that want to go global. It’s my passion to help them become stronger, extend their footprint, and win in the local and global markets.
“Beyond Korean style: Shaping a new growth formula,” McKinsey Global Institute, April 2013
Seoul National University