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Samsung ushers in next generation with execs in 30s, 40s

Tech giant now has almost 100 CEO candidates, including those in their 40s

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
Samsung Electronics has promoted a swath of young executives in their 30s and 40s as part of its ongoing efforts to breathe fresh air into its rigid corporate culture.

The Korean tech giant said Thursday a total of 198 executives, including eight executive vice presidents in their 40s and four vice presidents in their 30s, were promoted in its year-end executive reshuffle.

Samsung said the latest reshuffle was carried out in line with its performance-driven culture, citing the company’s record sales this year despite lingering uncertainties surrounding global supply chain disruptions and the protracted coronavirus pandemic.

Samsung recently simplified its executive system consisting of two vice presidents and executive vice president positions. As the result of Thursday’s reshuffle, there are now more than 100 executive vice presidents who are also potential candidates for CEO positions in the future.

Young engineers and software developers who have expertise in futuristic technologies such as artificial intelligence, voice recognition and advanced chips were promoted to leadership positions in the revamped two business pillars of consumer electronics and semiconductors.

Of the new executive vice presidents, the youngest was Kim Chan-woo, 45, head of the speech processing lab at Samsung Research, the research hub of the company’s recently merged consumer business unit. Previously, the youngest person of that rank was 51 years old.

Park Sung-beom, 37, a mobile processor design specialist, became the youngest-ever executive at the company. He was promoted to vice president in recognition of his key role in a partnership with US chipmaker AMD.

Samsung also stressed diversity and inclusion by promoting 12 women and five foreign nationals to executive positions -- the highest numbers in five years.

US mobile business head Jude Buckley, 51, who worked at Best Buy and Microsoft before joining Samsung in 2019 was promoted to senior vice president. He was recognized for elevating Samsung’s market share in the US smartphone market.

Of the new female executives is Yang Hye-soon, 53, senior vice president at the consumer business unit, who led the whole design concept of the mega-hit Bespoke home appliance line that lets users customize their appliance with individualized design and configurations.

Samsung said it would continue to nurture young executives as future leaders as it is seeking to revamp its corporate culture and focus more resources on new growth engine businesses under the “New Samsung” vision of Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of the group.

On Tuesday, Samsung replaced all CEOs with two young industry veterans in their 50s in a surprise move, ditching its decade-old three-CEO system that landed the company at the top of the smartphone, TV and semiconductor sectors.

Lee, the Samsung chief, returned home later in the day after a four-day trip to the Middle East, his second overseas trip since he was released on parole in August after serving prison time for corruption. On his first trip to the US in five years last month, he finalized a $17 billion fabless plant deal.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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