Hitotsubashi ICS spurs career change into consulting
Kim Yong-ho, 34, majored in French literature at university and worked seven years at Hyosung's overseas sales team. In 2009, he was selected for a Japanese government scholarship program called the Young Leaders' Program (YLP), and was sent to Hitotsubashi University's Graduate School of International Corporate Strategy. Upon returning to Korea last year, he started working with Arthur D. Little, a global business consulting firm, as a strategy consultant.
What did you do at Hyosung?
The company produces textiles and fibers. I was in a team that marketed technical yarns for industrial goods such as seat belts, airbags, ropes and others.
How did you apply to and win the scholarship?
I was lucky. Every year the Japanese embassy in Seoul selects YLP participants on recommendations from the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI). When the FKI sent out notices to its member companies, my boss picked it up and recommended me to the company.
How many slots were there in the YLP?
Our class had 55 people and 10 of them were on the YLP sponsorship. They came from various countries such as Korea, China, Southeast Asian countries and the U.S.
Was there any obligation to return to your previous employer after studying?
There was no such condition since I was not funded by the company but by the Japanese government. While I was at Hitotsubashi, I was interested in strategy, marketing and finance, so I thought I’d better move on to work in those fields. My boss at Hyosung was a bit disappointed but nevertheless he encouraged me to move on with my decision.
Since you are now working in a consulting firm, can you compare the culture of the two places?
First of all, a consulting firm is not as hierarchical as ordinary Korean firms. Junior employees can speak up in meetings as long as they have sound logic. Secondly, teamwork is more important here as you work on a project basis.
When you went to Hitotsubashi, did you speak Japanese?
I didn’t need to speak Japanese, because all the classes were in English. Hitotsubashi ICS is a globalized program. There were 55 students in the class but only around 10 were Japanese. If you don’t plan to find a job in Japan, you don’t need to speak the language.
What did you like most about the school?
It was a very intimate class with a small number of students studying together. We were very close to each other and to the professors. I guess that there were as many professors as students, so everyone was assigned a professor as his or her mentor. It is also a more globalized program than other programs in Japan and in Korea. The dean (Christina Ahmadjian) herself is not Japanese.
What did you dislike about the school?
It’s a small class, so the alumni network is weak.
Who was your favorite teacher?
Hirotaka Tacheuchi, a former dean who taught strategy; and Ryuji Yasuda, who is still teaching finance.
Interview by Cho Jin-seo