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[ Business services / USA ] Kelly Services Korea

YouMe Jeon, Managing Director of Kelly Services Korea, describes how the company is changing the landscape of Korea’s HR sector.

YouMe Jeon heads Kelly Services in Korea as managing director after successfully launching the company in 2008. With more than 15 years of experience in the executive search industry in Korea and Singapore, she has counseled a broad range of senior executives of multinational corporations, providing them with strategies for various human resources related initiatives including market entry, recruiting, retention and corporate restructuring. Possessing a strong track record, YouMe is highly sought after by clients from the financial services industry throughout Asia for consultations on high-level management and human resource related matters as well as for recruiting executive management talent for business operations. She works predominantly with CEOs and board members in multi-cultural projects, particularly in countries such as Hong Kong, Singapore, China, India, UK, the U.S. and Korea. With her deep insight and passion, YouMe leads Kelly Services Korea with the purpose to redesign the HR framework and set the bar high for the human resources industry in Korea. We sat down with YouMe to discuss how Kelly Services is changing the landscape of Korea’s HR sector.

Please tell us about Kelly Services and its history. What does Kelly Services offer to its customers?

Kelly Services is a Fortune 500 global workforce solution company with over 2,600 offices worldwide in 35 countries. It was established in the U.S. about 70 years ago with the mission to provide staffing expertise by keeping up with human resources challenges amidst the globalization of markets as well as defining and solving staffing needs to allow companies to fully focus on their core businesses. The Korea office was launched in 2008, and has established a presence in the market as a one-stop HR services firm, catering to virtually all human resources related needs of companies ranging from workforce planning, recruitment, performance management and coaching, outsourcing, HR consulting, and career transition.

What made Kelly Services establish a branch here in Korea?

First of all, Korea is located next to China and Japan, allowing access to the biggest markets in Asia, let alone the leading global markets. Korea itself is also an enormous market offering vast opportunities with its own set of multinational companies and conglomerates, and it is actually home to the most profitable Kelly Services branch among the APEC countries.
Second, Korea’s automobile, semiconductor, telecom, healthcare, and more recently, cosmetics and chemicals industries are flourishing. Many countries around the world seek to benchmark many of Korea’s practices in these sectors and a growing amount of R&D is being conducted on Korea’s consumer goods industry as well. Korea’s fashion industry is gaining momentum particularly in the categories of clothing, accessories and shoes. Due to this, we anticipate an increase in HR related needs and see great potential for the HR industry in general, as Korea becomes an in-demand location for companies to establish overseas business operations.

How is the Korean HR sector different from those in other parts of the world?

Korea is a unique market with consideration to the quality of its human resources and talent. In terms of human resources, the Korean people are incredibly goal-oriented and pride themselves in being hard-working and diligent, meaning that as far as talent goes, Korea is definitely at the top. When I was in Singapore, companies sought to hire Korean employees as they felt one Korean employee could handle a workload of two to three employees.
Also, the Korean HR sector as well as the services market as a whole are starting to grow and develop further following in the footsteps of the manufacturing industry, which has made great strides in recent years. This makes Korea a valuable market and I believe it is important to set standards and establish a presence in the industry early on before it continues to increase in size.

What were some product development strategies that Kelly Services carried out to target Korean customers?

We seek to pay attention to societal demands of the Korean people, and therefore, decided to cater to their retirement needs and help ensure financial stability throughout their entire life cycle. With that being said, we recently worked with members of the Ministry of Personnel Management as they benchmarked our public service retirement program to provide a comprehensive retirement package to their employees.

Were there any challenges your company faced while doing business here?

In Korea, there has sort of been a stigma regarding the word “outsourcing”. Some members of the general public have an incorrect perception of it being an illegal practice, when in actuality, it is a highly advanced HR concept and an effective strategy that can bring significant benefits to the labor market, companies and the economy as a whole if developed and utilized properly. With greater use of this strategy in the industry, I believe we can deepen the public’s understanding and change this perception.

How can Korea become a more ideal business environment for foreign companies like Kelly Services?

Continued efforts in improving labor laws through increased flexibility from government agencies would be nice. However, I am hopeful of the new administration because it seems to be very clear-cut and transparent about its labor policies. Instead of taking sides and trying to benefit either the corporation or the labor unions, it seems to be working in a fair manner to offer the best for both parties and increase cooperation between the two.

What Korean companies are you currently working with (if any) to strengthen your business partnership?

We work with a variety of clients such as multinational corporations, conglomerates as well as SMEs, and increasingly with government agencies. Most recently, we worked with The PyeongChang Organizing Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) as an official sponsor of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, and provided a variety of training and career transition services for POCOG employed professionals.

What are some of the future plans that Kelly Services has when it comes to doing business in Korea?

We want to continue cooperating with companies and government agencies to set the bar high for the HR industry here in Korea, especially because we see so much potential for growth in the HR sector as well as the greater services industry here. We aspire to design a paradigm that is unique to Kelly Services, one that people can rely on for every need in every step of the HR process.

By Grace Park (gracepark@kotra.or.kr)
English Editor / Invest Korea

WeWork Korea
One-on-one with the New President & CEO of KOTRA


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