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Yong Nam, CEO, LG Electronics

  • Story Highlights
  • CNN's Andrew Stevens talks to CEO of LG Electronics, Yong Nam
  • He became CEO in January, 2007, has been with the company since 1976
  • Nam believes speaking English is very important in the company
  • Next Article in World Business »
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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- From TVs to handsets, LG Electronics is on a mission -- to become a top three player in the global electronics industry.

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Yong Nam, CEO of LG Electronics

Leading the campaign is CEO Yong Nam who took on the top job in January.

CNN's Andrew Stevens met him at the LG headquarters in Seoul, where he showed off the latest Viewty camera phone. While Nam hopes this gadget will boost market share, he's also on a bigger quest to shake up the South Korean company's corporate culture.

Yong Nam: I try to empower, rather than make decisions. I think frontline people that know customers better can make better decisions. I just try to keep pushing authority downwards instead of upwards.

Andrew Stevens: You have been 30 years, more or less, with LG Electronics, what are the most important business lessons you have learnt during that time?

Yong Nam: Earlier in my career I was deeply engaged in selling of electronic products in the U.S. market, where I was able to put myself in customers' shoes rather than manufactures' shoes. And that was a great experience for me to understand the frontline and customers.

And secondly I spent more than 10 years in the chairman's office, so that gave me a great opportunity to learn top management perspective, as well as problem solving capabilities.

Andrew Stevens: You've pledged to make LG Electronics a more inspirational place to work. Now with 82,000 employees what do you mean by that and how do you do it?

Yong Nam: In a very hierarchical, bureaucratic and big company culture and working environment, people try to hide issues and problems instead of raising and solving them. I try to get people engaged -- I call it waste elimination activities.

If it is solved it can turn into a treasure, so there are so many treasures in the process of doing every day work among our people, and I try to encourage them to be engaged in finding out that waste.

Andrew Stevens: Obviously you are a fluent English speaker, how important is it for a business leader to have a second language, to have those language skills?

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Yong Nam: Just Korean talent itself is not sufficient enough, so I have to attract a best in class global talent into our organization, so that they can feel comfortable working in this environment.

This means that English has to be a common language in our company going forward. So me speaking English is very, very important to encourage people to speak out with bad English instead of good Korean. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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