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‘Destiny and Samsung brought me to Korea’

Indian engineer says would like to take part in Samsung’s innovation

Samsung Electronics has been seeking international talent for years in a bid to become global and innovative.

Pankaj Agarwal, a manager of Samsung’s future innovation team, is a key talent among its 1,200 workers from around the world helping to drive innovation at the world’s largest tech firm.

“Destiny and Samsung brought me to Korea nearly a decade ago after graduating from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur in 2004,” Agarwal said.

Before joining the world’s largest tech firm in 2006, he attained a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science at Korea’s prestigious Seoul National University, receiving a full sponsorship from the Seoul-based company.

“For the following years, I studied and worked passionately as an engineer at Samsung.”

Back home in India, “Wow!,” “That’s great” and “I have the latest Samsung TV” are among the responses Agarwal receives from young students when telling them he works for the tech company.

“When I tell Indians that I work at Samsung, they want to listen to me. The Indian customers are highly inquisitive and tech-savvy. They want to know about the new products that Samsung is planning to launch next.”

He receives great ideas and insights from casual chats with those people around him, he added.

Among the Samsung men, he is known by another nickname, the “genius,” for his educational background, knowledge and experience in the tech business and his multiple language skills in Hindi, English and Korean. He also holds six U.S. patents, and 20 more are pending.

The young engineer said he decided to master Korean after realizing how significant language is for a multi-dimensional cultural experience, not to mention helping immensely at work. 
Pankaj Agarwal, manager of future innovation group of Samsung Electronics
Pankaj Agarwal, manager of future innovation group of Samsung Electronics

“Korea is a world leader today. Korean companies like Samsung are beating the best in the world. It is because Samsung is willing to learn,” he said.

Agarwal was the first international employee sponsored by the Korean firm to earn an MBA degree at Harvard Business School in 2012.

He said he also worked hard to become a top-tier engineer, solving problems that no one had ever solved before.

For example, he was on a team of engineers who were credited with being the first to wirelessly power a 46-inch TV.

Agarwal was one of the 10 workers who had the privilege of having both lunch and dinner with Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee last year.

Commenting on the Independence Day of both Korea and India on Thursday, he said “both countries have come a long way since then.”

“I look forward to leading Samsung’s efforts on innovation and design thinking, and becoming a world-class innovator.”

When asked to give advice to younger Koreans and Indians, he said, “Paint your own masterpiece.”

“We often tend to doubt ourselves in moments of uncertainty. Just do not let that happen because the real passion ignites when you hold the brush and success follows. Confidence is key.”

People, processes and philosophies are the three major factors, which are rooted in the strength of the nation, he said.

Philosophy, comprised of belief systems, values, traditions and assumptions, serves as a “gel” that tightly bonds people, and provides necessary principles for building robust processes, he said.

“In this fast-changing digital world, it’s important to be constantly reminded of the relevance of a nation’s philosophies for creating and sustaining its competitive edge.”

By Kim Young-won (