The keywords of Samsung Electronics’ annual top executive reshuffle announced on Jan. 20 appeared to be performance and generational shift.
The most notable feature of the reshuffle was the appointment of Roh Tae-mun as head of the smartphone business. Roh is known to have led the development of the Galaxy Fold. The appointment of Roh, who is still in his early 50s, is seen as a sign that a generational change will be accelerated at Samsung Electronics.
This year’s executive shakeup involved nine executives –- promoting four to presidents and changing executive roles of five others. Kwon Oh-hyun, chairman of the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, vice chairman Yoon Bu-geun and vice chairman Shin Jong-kyun stepped down and will play their new roles as advisors.
Much attention is being paid to the changes that Roh will make in Samsung Electronics’ mobile strategy as new skipper of the smartphone business. Roh will face two main challenges -- leading innovation in the foldable phone form factor such as the Galaxy Fold and widening gaps with Chinese smartphone makers such as Huawei.
The Network Business Department which belongs to the IM Division along with the Wireless Business Department will receive fresh vitality as vice president Jeon Gyeong-hoon, head of the Network Business Department was promoted to a president. Jeon has been credited with helping Samsung Electronics expand its market share rapidly with the commercialization of 5G services. The Network Business Department had posted only a single-digit share in the global telecommunications equipment market until 2018 but increased its share to 23 percent in the 5G equipment segment in the third quarter of last year. The company plans to narrow its gap with Huawei, the first ranker in the 5G equipment market (30 percent), with an aggressive investment strategy, such as the recent acquisition of TeleWorld Solutions, a U.S. network design firm.
In the meantime, Samsung Electronics did not move CEOs -- Kim Ki-nam, vice chairman of the Device Solution (DS) Division, Kim Hyun-suk, president of Consumer Electronics (CE) division, and Koh Dong-jin, president of IT and Mobile (IM) Division., The executive shake-up shows that the company intended to maintain stability throughout its business amidst many internal and external uncertainties such as ongoing trials of top managers including vice chairman Lee Jae-yong and the US-China trade dispute, industry experts say.