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‘Seize chances to thrive in times of crisis’

Business chiefs say cloud of uncertainty hanging over Korean economy heightens need for innovation

By Park Han-na, Kan Hyeong-woo, Jie Ye-eun, Byun Hye-jin, Lee Yoon-seo

Published : Jan. 2, 2023 - 18:26

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By Business Desk

New opportunities can arise from out of crises. Chiefs of Korea's top conglomerates are banking on words of wisdom for the year ahead as businesses face an age of relentless changes stemming from geopolitical conflicts, inflationary pressures and a recessionary environment.

To overcome factors dragging on business activities, uncovering their own path to thrive for growth has become more important than ever as traditional approaches and paradigms have been challenged.

In New Year’s messages, chairpersons and chief executives stressed that bringing digital transformation and green transition to the companies is a prerequisite to boosting operational efficiency and business expansion. They also encouraged employees to find untapped markets and acquisition targets to seize opportunities for new growth engines.

President Yoon Suk-yeol (third from right) salutes the national flag with business leaders during a New Year's gathering of the business community, hosted by the KCCI and the KBIZ, held at Coex in southern Seoul, Monday. From left are Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun, Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Korea Federation of SMEs Chairman Kim Ki-moon, President Yoon, Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman and SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and Federation of Korean Industries Chairman and GS Group Group Chairman Huh Chang-soo. (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk-yeol (third from right) salutes the national flag with business leaders during a New Year's gathering of the business community, hosted by the KCCI and the KBIZ, held at Coex in southern Seoul, Monday. From left are Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Chung Euisun, Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Korea Federation of SMEs Chairman Kim Ki-moon, President Yoon, Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman and SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and Federation of Korean Industries Chairman and GS Group Group Chairman Huh Chang-soo. (Yonhap)

"Let's overcome barriers once again to leap forward by reflecting on the past. We ask all members to go for daring challenges and transformations to have a turning point this year. Our position and competitiveness will depend on how we respond to the challenges that we face. By reshaping the management constitution and organizational culture for the future, let's make investments more actively."

Samsung Electronics co-CEOs

Han Jong-hee & Kyung Kye-hyun

“In the battery and electronic materials industry, the companies with solid technology competitiveness can be winners. We must focus our capabilities on developing new battery products for electric vehicles at the right time and securing next-generation technology in a preceding manner.”

Choi Yoon-ho

Samsung SDI CEO

"This year will likely be another challenging year for us since we have faced a variety of challenges such as macroeconomic uncertainties and geopolitical variables from the second half of last year. It's important to seek our growth engines by solidifying mobile and cloud business, in addition to the automobile and artificial intelligence sectors. Let's gather as 'one team' and join efforts to make SK hynix the top-notch global chip firm."

Park Jung-ho

SK hynix vice chairman

"It's necessary to boost our sustainability amid the lingering economic uncertainty. Get ready to seize growth opportunities despite unpredictable factors. Pay keen attention to trends in the firm's four key business sectors -- advanced materials, green, bio and digital. Please stand committed to becoming reliable partners."

Jang Dong-hyun

SK Inc. vice chairman

“The company plans to create a new green (business) portfolio by producing clean energy for electric energy transition, expanding our battery metal recycling business through the value chain. Our energy and chemical affiliates will keep on showing positive outcomes in green business and SK On and SK IE Technology should at the same time.”

Kim Jun

SK Innovation CEO

“The unfavorable external factors will likely linger this year. We'll continuously push our projects under the emergency management system to turn crisis into opportunity. Since our customers provide a compass to navigate the crisis, we need to pay closer attention to our customers and find answers from them.”

Shin Hak-cheol

LG Chem vice chairman

"We should never stop challenging ourselves to secure future competitiveness. The key to the point is to prepare strong execution capabilities. As this year's keywords, our major tasks are: an upgraded IT system to raise business efficiency, a clear role and responsibility, as well as outstanding teamwork among all workers."

Kwon Young-soo

LG Energy Solution CEO

"The global economic downturn, oil price hikes and unfavorable currency rates have signaled the beginning of the unprecedentedly prolonged recession. We've made investments in digital innovation and new technologies for the future growth. Now is the time to collect the seeds and make them as our new growth engines."

Heo Tae-soo

GS Group chairman

"For a successful fulfillment of the 2050 carbon-neutral road map, steel businesses should find investment opportunities to seize the overseas market and convert (existing) production processes to be eco-friendly. Posco plans to seek investment opportunities in Indonesia, India and North America to create synergy."

Choi Jung-woo

Posco Group chairman

"Let's create a 'new Lotte' by endlessly aiming for change and innovation during the age of 'permacrisis.’ Self-innovation is indispensable for survival -- and the key to improving the company includes having the courage to innovate (itself)."

Shin Dong-bin

Lotte Group chairman

“The future businesses we are preparing, such as aerospace, green energy and digital finance, should be bolstered to see visible achievements that can meet the expectations of the market and customers. In difficult times when it is easy to focus only on the reality in front of us, we must make bold investments to secure future growth engines and core capabilities while strengthening our internal stability.”

Kim Seung-youn

Hanwha Group chairman

"This year marks the first year to initiate (CJ's) 2025 mid- to long-term plans. The affiliates should continue to expand into new territories by making bold and rapid investment, along with mergers and acquisitions which focus on innovative growth projects that have their basis on four future growth engines including culture, platform, wellness and sustainability."

Sohn Kyung-shik

CJ Group chairman

“Despite global economic uncertainties, the company will brace for challenges by enhancing its financial stability, a competitive edge in growth sectors and an innovative business portfolio. We should be confident in expanding business opportunities such as small modular reactors, which show a promising outlook.”

Park Jeong-won

Doosan Group chairman

“This year will be a year when we complete the big mission of acquiring Asiana Airlines. We should figure out the preferred flight destinations and services in advance by analyzing customer needs. If we fall behind even just a little, we might see our profit go down in the recovering market.”

Walter Cho

Korean Air chairman

"Among the 14 subsidiaries of Hana Financial Group, how many of them are at the top in their respective industries? Now is not a time for us to settle with our past achievements, we must take a broader step forward to move toward the future at a faster pace before it is too late."

Ham Young-joo

Hana Financial Group chairman

"Our top prior strategy this year is to enhance competitiveness as a comprehensive financial group by strengthening core competencies and pursuing a differentiated future growth strategy. As the market situation worsens, our subsidiaries need to improve their position in the core business markets to strengthen profit basis, and this year we will speed up expanding nonbanking business portfolios in fields such as securities, insurance and venture capital, which were shelved last year due to market instability."

Son Tae-seung

Woori Financial Group chairman

"In the current situation where it is difficult to predict the future, the important thing is not to grow in size, but to develop the stamina for the coming economic winter. The growth that strengthens internal stability is more important than immediate profits."

Yoon Jong-kyoo

KB Financial Group chairman

"Let's constantly change and leap forward with the determination that we will survive only if we change and disappear from the market if we do not. My decision to appoint new-generation CEOs was also made to avoid dwelling on the past and the present and to move on to a greater future."

Cho Yong-byoung

Shinhan Financial Group chairman

"Let's constantly change and leap forward with the determination that we will survive only if we change and disappear from the market if we do not."

"My decision to appoint new-generation CEOs was also made to avoid dwelling on the past and the present and to move on to a greater future."