Global Best Brands in Korea (3)
About the brand
Samil PricewaterhouseCoopers (Samil PwC), the network firm of PwC here, is Korea’s No. 1 accounting and consulting company whose history dates back to the early 1970s.
The Seoul-based company has clocked robust organic growth without any mergers or acquisitions during the past four decades to become a business bellwether.
``PwC’’ is the brand under which member companies of PricewaterhouseCoopers International operate to provide industry-focused assurance, and tax and advisory services to enhance the value of their clients. Samil PwC has been connected to the brand since 1971.
Name: Ahn Kyung-tae
Career: Ahn joined Samil in 1975 and was named to the top position in 2003 after the retirement of Samil PwC founder Suh Tae-sik. Ahn has extensive experience in areas such as assurance and consulting.
Education: Bachelor’s degree from Seoul National University and a Ph.D. in business administration from Hongik University
Extracurricular: Golf, marathons
Samil PwC established an edge in its conventional business of audit and tax services and expanded its horizons toward advisory services, which currently account for more than half of its annual turnover.
During the fiscal year 2009, which spanned from April 2009 to March this year, Samil PwC chalked up sales amounting to 428.9 billion won ― 211.1 billion won from audit and tax services and 217.8 billion won from its advisory business.
Samil PwC has dominated the domestic market in both segments, remaining as the perennial champion here on the back of its management knowhow and professional workforce.
Samil PwC does not want to live on past laurels and has turned its eyes beyond national borders to lucrative international markets in tandem with the fast advent of globalization.
Such a mindset is epitomized in its corporate vision of ``Global Samil: The most respected, trusted firm,’’ which is shared by its 3,800-plus employees working across the country.
The company projects that its specialized manpower will underpin Samil PwC to become a global top-tier company down the road in such segments as auditing, M&A, consulting and tax services.
About the brand
Mercedes-Benz Korea was established early 2003 to offer a comprehensive line-up of models, which range from the B-, C-, E- and S-Class sedans as well as a variety of coupes and convertibles.
It has been a key player in establishing environmentally-compatible models in the country’s hard-fought luxury automotive market with its innovative diesel and hybrid engines.
The Seoul-based company also brings the complete line-up of the much-touted Maybach vehicles, which have had a strong acceptance in Korea as a leading ultra-luxury sedan.
Name: Harald Behrend
Career: Behrend has been serving as CEO of Mercedes-Benz Korea since Oct. 2007. Before moving to Korea, he worked as chief operating officer of Mercedes-Benz’s Hong Kong subsidiary and head of retail network development at the carmaker’s Chinese unit. Behrend has been working at Daimler AG for more than 20 years including many years in Asia.
Education: He graduated from Pforzheim University.
Extracurricular: Mountain hiking
Mercedes-Benz Korea, which has been regarded as one of the top premium brands for a long time here, has racked up a robust performance over the past several years.
The company more than doubled its sales in 2010 from a year before ― it sold a total of 11,959 vehicles during the first nine months of the year, up 105.4 percent from the corresponding period of 2009.
In particular, the new E-Class that was launched midway through 2009 has been a grand slam as Korean motorists have snapped up more than 6,500 during the Jan.-Sept. period of 2010.
In addition to this best-selling vehicle, other models of the S-Class and the C-Class have continued its success story.
Mercedes-Benz Korea boasts of extensive dealer and service networks in 18 showrooms and 21 official service centers. It also offers an emergency call service around the clock.
Such wide networks are in line with the company’s policy of becoming the best not only in the quality of its vehicles but also in services.
``True to Gottlieb Daimler’s philosophy `Das beste oder nichts’ (the best or nothing), Mercedes-Benz Korea strives to continue its brand leadership of the best product and innovative technology, as shown during the 125-year history of Mercedes-Benz,’’ a company official said.
Philip Morris International Korea
About the brand
Philip Morris International (PMI) Korea, the country’s top-tier producer of tobaccos, was established in 1989 to carve out a substantial share of the domestic market.
Back in 2002, the company built a tobacco production line equipped with state-of-the-art facilities as well as a strict quality control system located in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province.
The outfit plans to expand and move to a new plant with a raw material processing facility consisting of cutting-edge facilities and an annual production capacity of up to 30 billion cigarettes in Yangsan by 2012.
Name: Roman Militsyn
Career: Militsyn began his career at Philip Morris Russia in 1994 where he was merchandising supervisor. In 2002, he moved to Korea and became the director of sales and distribution before being promoted to managing director in 2006. In 2010, he was awarded a citation from the Minister of Knowledge Economy in the ``Foreign Individuals in the Commerce and Industry Sector in Korea.’’
Education: He majored in foreign languages and foreign studies and minored in Korean in Moscow, Russia.
On the strength of its diverse brand portfolio such as Marlboro, Parliament, Virginia Slim and Lark, PMI Korea has successfully made its presence felt in the competitive Korean market.
In particular, it has been recognized by consumers for quality products and services of a global standard as demonstrated by the fact that it ranked the top place six times in a row up to 2010 in customer satisfaction surveys of the Korea Productive Center.
Plus, the corporation has put forth great efforts in social contributions such as donating refrigerated trucks. It also garnered an honorary citation from the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2004 and 2009 for its commitment to corporate social responsibility programs, a rare accolade for a tobacco producer.
PMI Korea looks to eventually become the leading tobacco company in Korea. To do so, it aims to remain responsive to changing tastes and market circumstances, and to provide premium quality products to meet these various preferences.
In line with the long-term goal, the company keeps coming up with products with local relevance ― it launched two fresh products this year alone ― Marlboro Black Menthol and Parliament Fresh.
``We will continue to work harder to enhance customer services and product quality in return for support from our consumers to be recognized as a highly-trusted firm via responsible sales and marketing,’’ a PMI Korea representative said.
``Aside from the business goals, we aim to become an exemplary corporate citizen in Korea through corporate social responsibility programs for local residents and seamless investments in the development of local communities.’’
Allianz Life Korea
About the brand
The Allianz Group is one of the world’s largest financial and insurance service providers with more than 75 million customers in around 70 countries worldwide that combine to have up to 152,000 employees.
The mega-sized financial institute entered Korea in 1999 when it acquired local life insurer Jeil Life and set up Allianz Life Korea as a wholly-owned affiliate of the Allianz Group.
Over the last decade, Allianz Life Korea has grown into a first-string life insurer via tough competition with domestic behemoths. It currently delivers life insurance and financial products to some 1.3 million customers.
Name: Cheong Mun-kuk
Career: Cheong joined Jeil Life in 1984 and worked for the firm through 1999. Based on his experience as head of Hudson International Advisors and AIG Global Investment in Korea, he moved to Allianz Life Korea in 2004 and took charge of the CEO’s post early 2007.
Education: Bachelor’s degree at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
Allianz Life Korea is famous for stressing the significance of risk management and such efforts explain why the company soared in the domestic rankings in the aftermath of the global economic turmoil.
As of the end of this march, Allianz Life Korea held 12.5 trillion won in overall assets and its solvency ratio amounted to 512 percent, which is far ahead of the market benchmark of about 150 percent.
Based on strict risk management, Allianz Life Korea introduced advanced knowhow to the domestic insurance market, which helped the company nudge past its rivals and rocket to the top.
Allianz Life Korea vows to keep its two key phrases of “risk management” and “customer-oriented” in its approach, CEO Cheong told The Korea Times during an interview.
``Insurance is a long-term product that lasts for decades. You get pension insurance after retirement. Financial stability matters more than anything else to pay the insurance money one has promised to customers,’’ Cheong said. ``Obsessing on short-term performance could eat into growth engines over the longer term.’’
Allianz has also won the hearts and minds of Koreans by offering the service of visiting clients at their request regardless of whether they are about to change insurance policies, payments of insurance money or anything else.
About the brand
Founded in 1975, Microsoft is the global leader in software, services and solutions, which it says have helped people and businesses realize their full potential over the past few decades.
The U.S. software giant established its unit in Korea in 1988, and it has posted stable growth in competition with strong homegrown powerhouses.
In recognition of such exploits, Microsoft Korea was picked as the best subsidiary of the company this summer among those in large and mature countries during the annual evaluation of Microsoft affiliates across the world.
Name: James Kim
Career: He started his professional career at IBM in 1983 and has worked for many high-tech companies in the United States. He crossed the Pacific in 2005 to take the reins of Overture Korea and later Yahoo Korea before assuming the leadership at Microsoft Korea last year.
Education: Bachelor’s degree at UCLA, MBA from Harvard Business School
Microsoft Korea offers a variety of product lineups for both individual and corporate clients and continues to come up with innovative products through brisk research ― the entity spent more than $8.7 billion on research and development during the fiscal year 2010.
Its latest Windows 7 operating system has taken a firm root in global markets just a year after its debut and its recently-released operating system for cell phones also enjoy popularity.
Microsoft Korea has brought the clout of Microsoft to Asia’s fourth-largest economy to chalk up impressive results over the past quarter century while generating healthy ecosystems with local developers and software/hardware firms.
Microsoft is looking to cloud computing, which refers to Web-enabled computing where shared resources and software are provided to personal computers or other devices on demand under the pay-as-you-go system, as the next big thing.
In tandem with the fast-paced paradigm shift toward cloud computing, Microsoft has pulled out all the stops to remain ahead of the curve in such potential-laden areas as software-as-cloud or infrastructure-as-cloud.
Furthermore, it is seeking to encourage companies to adopt Windows 7 early and Microsoft Korea has seen tangible results as shown by the fact that the country’s No. 1 company Samsung Electronics uses the operating system.