LG Group, South Korea’s fourth largest conglomerate, has seen its market capitalization triple and sales jump about 30 percent under the leadership of Koo Kwang-mo, who marks his fifth anniversary as the group's chairman on Thursday.
With bold decisions to restructure the business portfolio and concentrate investment in key areas of automotive solutions and energy, and future technologies, Koo appears to be solidifying his leadership after he took office on June 29, 2018, following the sudden death of his father, Koo Bon-moo.
In his five years as the chairman, Koo made tough decisions to end its symbolic smartphone business, and to withdraw its solar power panel business.
Under his strong reform plan, Koo has selected three new areas for the company to focus its resources in, artificial intelligence, bio industry, and "clean" technologies, or eco-friendly tech, giving the name, "ABC."
To foster the three businesses, the South Korean conglomerate has announced plans to invest some 54 trillion won ($41.3 billion) over the next five years.
"The holdings company (LG Group) will look for future opportunities and monitor potential risk factors in a long-term perspective, and concentrate efforts to preemptively manage business portfolio, and securing talents," Koo has said in the first executive meeting held after he became the chairman, in August 2018.
The bold decisions by Koo has led to a boost in the group’s financial performances.
The combined sales of listed affiliates of LG almost tripled over the five years, growing from 88.1 trillion won in June 2018 to 242.1 trillion won in June 2023 according to data from the regulatory filing system by Financial Supervisory Service.
In Korea alone, the number of employees of LG’s 11 listed affiliates also grew 7.6 percent over the past five years, from 112,395 in 2018 to 120,953 last year, and the number of female executives also doubled to 61 this year.
One of his key management philosophies lies in creating "valuable user experience." Since the start of his leadership, Koo has stressed the importance of "customer value," that the staff should think beyond the quality of goods and services.
Koo first entered LG Electronics as an assistant manager in the company's finance team, and got speedy promotions and became the conglomerate chairman at the age of 40 in 2018.
"Koo is a leader who cares about value and pursues pragmatism over formality," an LG official said.