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Samsung to nurture young executives to usher in ‘New Samsung’ era

Nov. 29, 2021 - 15:06 By Son Ji-hyoung
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong arrives at Seoul Gimpo Business Aviation Center at around 4:20 p.m. Wednesday, ending his weekslong visit to the United States. (Yonhap)
Samsung Electronics is poised to employ a new personnel management system starting in 2022 that could foster young executives, in a move to lay the groundwork for a “New Samsung” era under Samsung’s de facto leader Lee Jae-yong, the South Korean tech giant said Monday.

Under the new system, Samsung will abolish a set of requirements before an employee gets promoted to a certain level, such as a minimum term of service that lasts roughly eight to 10 years. Instead, excellent employees will be eligible for a “promotion session” so their work performance and expertise can come under a multidimensional review.

The new human resources procedures will help the tech giant bring top talent to management regardless of age, Samsung said in a statement.

In line with the revamp, Samsung will remove the job title of senior vice president, known as “jeonmu” in Korean, and merge that rank with executive vice president, or “busajang” in Korean.

Samsung’s new system will also encourage young people to boost their career experience. Samsung said it plans to allow employees serving in the same position for at least five years to be qualified to work in a different position. At the same time, a talent exchange program will give employees in Korea the opportunity to serve in positions abroad.

Moreover, a separate management system will be implemented to give employees a soft landing when they return from a career break. Satellite offices will be created in “major locations” in Korea to nurture remote working environments.

To enhance its employee evaluation system, Samsung will adopt absolute criteria and test peer evaluations in which employees judge each other’s value in essay format.

Samsung said the new system will create a “future-oriented work environment” to enable its staff and executives to be more dedicated to their tasks with greater spontaneity.

This is the first major change in Samsung’s human resources management system in five years. In June 2016 Samsung simplified its job titles by removing three Korean conventional job titles, and encouraged its employees to add “pro” or the Korean honorific suffix “nim” when referring to each other to promote horizontal communication.

Also, the move is the latest indication of a bold step toward Lee’s “New Samsung” vision to cope with uncertainties and challenges at home and abroad. Lee’s succession plan is underway after former Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s death in October 2020.

Momentum for the revamp appears to be gathering steam following Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee’s weekslong trip to the United States, his first overseas trip since being released early from a bribery sentence. Lee brought up “desperate voices on the scene” among Samsung employees in the US immediately after returning to Seoul on Wednesday, and he expressed regret for “the harsh reality of the market.” But he refused to clarify his remarks when asked.

Samsung is set to announce its executive reshuffle next month.

Samsung Electronics approved three chief executive officers -- Kim Ki-nam for the semiconductor business, Koh Dong-jin for smartphones and Kim Hyun-suk for consumer electronics -- as internal board members at a shareholders meeting in March this year.