POSCO CEO Chung Joon-yang
By Oh Young-jin
New POSCO CEO Chung Joon-yang is bringing a new character to the steel maker, helping drop its drab, smokestack industry image.
In the latest change, Chung called attention to engineers with a liberal arts mindset.
During a special speech he recently gave to students of the Seoul National University graduate school, Chung disclosed his goal of radically changing the thinking of his employees.
He said that his company needs to foster manpower armed with an engineers' precision and a liberal arts students' imagination in order to become a global firm in its truest meaning. ``I will see to it that this will happen,'' he said.
This turn in direction is obviously based on his personal experience.
``I was too poor to read extensively while in school,'' he said during the speech. ``While working after graduation, I regretted my narrow scope of vision and shallow pool of experience.''
So he advised the students in the audience to read a lot, which he said is ``the key to gaining wisdom to do the right thing.''
As a concrete measure, he said that he would try to have POSCO recruits selected in their sophomore year so as to have engineering majors study liberal arts, while business management majors studying engineering.
As a more immediate step, he is pushing for the adoption of a comprehensive mindset among POSCO employees and executives.
As a result, POSCO plans to enlarge the scope of participation in its ``Saturday Class'' lifetime study program to mid-level managers. Currently the class is limited to executives. The number of participants will increase to 919, up from 610. The class covers subjects from the Chinese classics to history and archeology.
The TJ Foundation, affiliated with POSCO, is also giving a helping hand to the development of liberal arts.
According to company officials, the foundation named after its founder Park Tae-joon, annually selects 10 students and sponsors their trips to Asian countries. At the same time, a seminar is scheduled for next month under the title: Asian Society's Ways of Common Prosperity.
Besides this liberal arts project, the POSCO CEO received praise from nonsmokers and scorn from smokers recently when he declared war against smoking. Supporters say that this is a move in the right direction that will help burnish POSCO's conventional industry image.
Under his directive, employees at its Kangnam headquarters are banned from smoking, with incentives and help rendered to those who try to quit.
``This is our CEO's determination that is seeping into our corporate culture,'' a POSCO spokesman said, when asked if the anti-smoking drive and liberal arts promotion were part of a company effort to upgrade the CEO's image.