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Superrich heirs-apparent rush to consulting companies

The third generation of South Korea’s superrich conglomerates are rushing to consulting firms, in an apparent attempt to obtain management-related experience while establishing their own global network.

According to Hankyung.com, Chey Yun-jeong, the eldest daughter of SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won and former President Roh Tae-woo’s daughter Roh So-young, has recently started working at Bain & Company. The report noted that the University of Chicago graduate was hired as a junior consultant.

“The junior Chey is likely to take up various projects that could help her learn to strategize business projects and then return to SK Group to play a bigger role in the actual management,” a source said.

Bain & Company, headquartered in Boston, is known as one of the biggest business management consulting firms in the world. The company first opened its South Korean branch in 1991 and has shown strength in the business industry and retail market consultation here.

Bain & Company also played a cradle role to other superrich heirs -- Cho Hyun-sang, third son of Hyosung Group chairman Cho Suck-rai as well as to Chung Nam-i, the eldest daughter of Hyundai Heavy Industries’ largest shareholder Chung Mong-joon. Both the junior Cho and junior Chung returned to Hyosung and Hyundai (through the Asan Nanum Foundation) and took on their own management roles there.

Chung Nam-i’s elder brother Ki-sun worked at Boston Consulting Group, but has joined his father’s company as a senior executive. Hong Jeong-guk, the heir-apparent of BGF Retail, was also a consultant at the BCG.

Industry insiders claim that more and more third-generation superrich are choosing consulting firms as a career stepping stone, compared to the previous generation who chose to start at their families’ companies.

While Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jay-yong, Shinsegae vice chairman Chung Yong-jin and many others earned master’s degrees of business administration and took apprenticeship-style roles at the family’s businesses, the youngsters are taking consultant experiences as an opportunity to learn about their global competitors from an objective point of view and to enhance their communication abilities, on top of establishing an international network.

Pundits say the change in trends stems from the Asian financial crisis in 1997, when the majority of domestic enterprises were forced to go global. “It is a win-win situation for the consulting firms, too. Those consultants could always become heavyweight clients in the long run,” an observer said.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)





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