This year is very meaningful to Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., Ltd. as the company was once again crowned the country’s best constructor. It had been six long years since the company last won the honor.
CEO of Hyundai Engineering & Construction, Kim Joong-kyum, aged 59, took office in March 2009. He always puts the global management first by travelling around the world which explains him perfectly as a permanent construction man. He spent lots of time visiting worksites after taking office and in July 2009, visited Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE to win large-scale construction orders in his efforts to promote sales. Arriving back from one such trip he heard the happiest news; the company took first ranking in the annual evaluation of construction abilities.
Kim, who is heading the reconstruction of Hyundai Engineering & Construction, the ‘original construction family’, must have been filled with emotion as he heard the news. The company’s position as the oldest brother in the country’s construction industry looked at one time it would last forever, however, it began faltering around 2000-2001. Affected by the liquidity crisis, the company lost its No.1 position in the evaluation of construction abilities in 2004. The company has now regained its pride thanks to Hyundai’s spirit of perseverance.
Hyundai Construction & Engineering was evaluated No.1 in construction abilities in 2009 by 12,483 overall constructors and 46,594 special constructors nationwide. The survey was conducted by the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs and the Construction Association of Korea.. The company’s best areas were technological abilities and reliability. Before 2003, the company had maintained the No.1 spot for an incredible 42 consecutive years, leading right back to the year the company was created. Overcoming temporary hardship and difficulties, the company has now returned to its rightful place.
The company has a unique corporate culture of perseverance, inherited from the late founder, Jeong Joo-young. It is a strong propulsive power and will, a spirit naturally cultivated over time through numerous construction projects under unfavorable conditions, such as deserts and jungle, as well as in locations such as Alaska. It is natural that this spirit was deeply engraved in Kim who has been working for Hyundai for 33 years. It is this spirit that finally helped the company regain the No.1 position.
Kim, in an interview with an economic newspaper, emphasized that it was more important to motivate employees than regain the No.1 position and that this motivation can lead to changes and innovation. Indeed, ‘survive through changes’ is a motto consistently quoted by him.
In a contribution to a newspaper, he stated that the time when construction companies could survive through good construction only had long gone and that now all buildings should be sophisticated in design, armed with information technology, and be environment-friendly. This means that construction companies can only survive the wild waves of competition when they are well-versed in areas such as art, culture, advanced science, environment, and philosophy. According to Kim, these waves cannot be overcome without change and the only principle that never changes in this unforeseeable era is that ‘we can survive only when we change.’
Kim is a manager who stresses communication and emotional management. He has been attempting various ways to change the rigid corporate culture that is unique to Hyundai Construction & Engineering into a softer and more sophisticated one since taking office. In a monthly morning meeting in July 2009, he surprised those in attendance by presenting a power point presentation he had made himself instead of what was prepared for him. In addition, he arranged a CEO lunch event with executives and employees on a rooftop in an attempt to expand the space for communication. He is also promoting efficiency and communication through the use of video conferences with staff on actual worksites.
He stresses that the markets requiring further attention are underdeveloped countries with rich resources. The company, in consideration of this, is planning to reorganize its overseas workforce and establish offices in Africa, Central and South America, and the CIS.
His excellent management skills were acknowledged when he increased sales three times and operating profits five times in only two years after taking office. How his management of changes, emotions and communication will change Hyundai Construction & Engineering remains to be seen.