June G. Park is the CEO of an international steel company that imports mostly to the US and Japan. He has successfully managed his company for the past 35 years. Mr. Park is also my father. Despite instructions discouraging us to interview someone close to us, I chose him because I am bent on following the path that he has taken; we also took up the same major in college (Business Management). Likewise I would also like to work under his company in the future, not only because it is our family business, but because I believe in its vision and I trust that I will be able to help the company reach new heights in the future. He is also my number one role model and I am convinced that it is essential for me to study how he has become a successful manager if I am to achieve a success of my own. Mr. Park is the epitome of a leader and is reputed to have earned the respect of his employees and even co-CEOs alike.
This is probably because of his intelligence and his personification of the values of honesty and diligence. He likewise has integrity, exemplifies morality and has an open mind. His people skills are also quite impressive. Despite being aware of his ever limited time, never did he make me feel that he was busy or was waiting for me to finish the interview as he had more things to do at work (I conducted this interview over the phone, as he is now in South Korea). These characteristics helped him in his struggle to reach the pinnacle of his success.
He was born in 1945 and is the fourth of five siblings. Growing up was difficult, as he was only 5 years old when the Korean war broke out. My grandparents had to go from one place to another just to seek refuge from the war and my father was a witness to the turmoil that has happened. Money and food was scarce while he was growing up, and so their family had to make do with the little that they had. Mr. Park, despite the hardships, was not resigned to his apparent fate. He was determined to get his family out of poverty. He studied well in school, which was easier said than done, considering that he had to work even as a child, just to have enough money for his allowance and even to help his parents pay for his tuition fees. He helped out in a local grocery store for most of his time as an elementary student. He eventually worked as a delivery and errand boy for stall owners in the city’s wet market.
Despite this, he was an A student most of the time. He even graduated at the top of his class during high school. He was able to earn a college scholarship and get into the highly competitive Seoul National University (SNU), widely regarded as the top university in our country. While at the SNU, he continued to be a working student, sometimes having to juggle with two jobs at one time. He struggled not only with managing his time, but, at least in the beginning, with the stigma that came with being someone from the Cholla region.
Most South Koreans discriminate against people from this region as they are regarded as “socially inferior”. Despite this, he still became a popular a student leader, heading one Informational Interviews 3 of the academic clubs in the College of Business Administration for one year. After college, he started out as an administrative assistant for the same company that he is now heading. He has worked his way up through sheer hard work and determination. As you may have noticed, he emphasized the value of hard work and determination as keys to success. He also discussed the concepts of being at the right place and the right time in securing opportunities.
Moreover, he also described how one should always be driven with the passion to outdo himself in order to achieve success. Wan Hong Wan Hong was an international student in the US like myself. We met and graduated from the same college; he majored in Business Finance. I chose him to be an interviewee because I am amazed at how he was able to land a good job here during an economic recession and despite being a second language speaker. He has recently been hired with very good contracts by a prestigious international company in New York, KPMG. He also works as a tax and auditing consultant.
He exemplifies the kind of self-assurance that most men of his age lack. He is also a hard worker, a leader and is someone who has enough foresight as to be always well prepared for what lies ahead in the future. He is outgoing and has a strong network of friends. His energy was contagious and our conversations were lively and engaging, despite only held via electronic chat. He relates that it wasn’t easy when he was starting out in the US.
He was quite Informational Interviews 4 unsure of himself, being alone and away from his family. To a certain extent, he also had his share of discrimination for being a foreigner. But he was committed to not let all his and his family’s effort and resources go to waste in letting him have the opportunity to study in the US. So he decided to suck up all the negative emotions that he was feeling at that time and turn all that anxiety into positive energy. He then set a plan for success. Mr. Hong wanted to focus and ride on the leverage provided by one of the more undermined keys to success – networking.
He enjoyed reading Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” as a kid and understood right then about the value of human relations and its influence to one’s success. He then set out a plan around this belief. He set out to maximize every opportunity to meet new people and establish relationships out of these, expecting to reap the rewards later on. Mr. Hong made it a point to make a good impression, make every individual he met special and establish a relationship with him/her if possible. So this he did, from his part-time jobs, to his classes, to his extra-curricular activities, to dormitory, up to his Sunday church service. In time, he had a such strong support group that he didn’t feel homesick anymore.
In fact, he began to see the US as his second home. According to him, this was his secret to success. His contracts came mostly from his friends’ referrals. The same goes for his earning a job at the prestigious accounting company in New York. He was referred by his former client to a friend at the firm.
This is also the reason why he naturally blended in at the said accounting firm. He always made it a point to regard everyone, regardless of position or status, as important. Insights I learned a lot from these two men and I am sure that these will help me on my way up in the future. Fortitude. You’ve got to have courage and determination in order to hurdle the setbacks that life throws at you. One has to be passionate enough and be so consumed by his/her will to succeed. Without this, one would easily give up at the first disappointment that comes his/her way. Value hardwork. Nothing in life is free, and there’s no such thing as a free lunch either, so one has to be prepared to roll up his/her sleeves and do his/her part to achieve success. Keep on studying. With today’s fast paced society, business has become more and more dynamic.
You’ve got to constantly monitor your market, your competitors, the economic and political climate, among other things, so as to anticipate what happens next in order to avoid being left behind and suffering losses from it. Work on your character. All these will be for naught if you don’t establish yourself to be a person of integrity. As they say, respect is not bought, it is earned. One will not earn the respect of his/her peers, workers, staff and even that of the community if he/she does not have a good character. Enthusiasm. It is said that nothing ever great was achieved without enthusiasm, and the Informational Interviews 6 success of these two men are cases in point. One should be driven, if not consumed, by what he/she wants to achieve and by his/her vision for the company or business.
Respect every individual that you meet. Treat every individual with importance, regardless of stature. You never know when and where they will return the favor. Don’t look for opportunities, make them. The average person waits for the right time and the right opportunity. Achievers don’t bother waiting – they make the opportunities for themselves!