Culture & People

The Importance of Harmony: Ho-sang Lee on his role as Managing Director at SK hynix Deutschland GmbH

By November 30, 2021 January 6th, 2022 No Comments
When fresh graduate Hosang Lee first dipped his toe in the professional world, semiconductors were not well-known globally.

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When fresh graduate Ho-sang Lee first dipped his toe in the professional world, semiconductors were not well-known globally. In fact, the now Managing Director of SK hynix Deutschland GmbH (Head of Europe) was completely unaware of semiconductors. Presented with prospective employment across various industries, Ho-sang Lee quickly recognized the potential a career in semiconductors held.

In his first six years of career, Lee worked in administration, working his way into more senior positions that required collaborating with headquarters and the overseas subsidiaries as part of the sales division.

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As a leader who prioritizes communication, it comes as no surprise that ensuring harmony is at the top of this Managing Director’s to-do list. While Lee does enjoy listening to classical music, especially Mozart’s “Oboe Concerto,” the harmony he strives to achieve in the workplace is of the non-musical variety.

“Since people with different personalities completing different kinds of work often interact, it is paramount to achieve harmony through communication. The most successful individuals are considerate and try to compromise even if there are differences of opinion.”

Striking the Right Chord in Business

The automotive industry has long been a driving force in the European economy, playing a key role in advancing regional development across the continent. In Frankfurt, Germany, sitting geographically at the center of it all, is the SK hynix Deutschland GmbH office.

“Making Frankfurt home base for our European business presents numerous advantages. The country has a rich automotive history and provides quick and easy access to the rest of the continent via the international airport, autobahn, railroads, and even ships.”

Access to convenient international travel options is important for Lee’s team as the SK hynix’s German subsidiary manages business for the entire continent along with the team in Britain. Together, they support clients through satellite sales offices located in Paris, Helsinki, and Dublin.

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Home to various top-tier carmakers, Germany is the perfect place for SK hynix’s Autolab. Opening its doors in January 2020, the Autolab aims to support the advancement of memory-related technologies for European automotive clients.

“Launching the Autolab was an important achievement for all members of the German team. The lab’s main objective is to conduct certification evaluations at the Board level for clients attempting to authenticate using our memory solutions. In addition, we also make recommendations to clients following strict evaluations and identify the exact cause of issues through defect analysis.”

The Autolab marks one of many meaningful strategic business decisions that have led to the landmark expansion of SK hynix’s automotive business. Lee is both pleased with the progress made so far and optimistic about the future. The Managing Director noted some standout moments from the past year, including working with one of the top-tier carmakers and improving profitability.

“In 2021, we were able to improve our legacy product profitability due partly to favorable market conditions. In addition, there was a feat of securing the memory requirements of the top-tier carmaker, and preemptively reflecting them in the development of our HQ products.”

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He is proud to have achieved this success jointly through the support of all the German team members and looks forward to accomplishing more together.

“SK hynix’s automotive business is really beginning to take off. To solidify our position, our activities in Europe are becoming increasingly important. The German subsidiary stands at the forefront as the European market is expected to expand in the future.”

Setting the Tone for the German Office

Much of the German Office’s success can be attributed to its strong internal culture and welcoming atmosphere. The close-knit team tackles a variety of disciplines in-house including, marketing, sales, planning, product development, quality control, and, of course, management.

“I believe the most important thing to strive for is harmony among all the members. As an office, we try to follow principles of harmony while setting clear boundaries between work and home.”

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A transplant himself, Lee understands how difficult transitioning to life in another country can be.

“In addition to discussing the main tasks of our business, I try to help my team members by sharing my own personal tips and know-hows on living and working aboard and how to adjust and adapt to their new lives.”

When it entered the automotive market, SK hynix was a relative latecomer compared to the industry’s established players. The brand was less well-know, but Lee and the team in Germany hit the ground running.

“We were somewhat less recognizable than our competitors, but due to the nature of the automotive industry, we were ready to compete on what clients valued most—semiconductor quality and reliability.”

The team had some unique challenges to surmount and did so by uniting under a banner of teamwork and harmony.

“There were numerous difficulties as a reflection of limited resources, such as negotiations, product certification, and poor response to supply contracts. However, through consistent and persuasive conversations with customers, our team laid the foundation for business expansion.”

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Attitude is also an important value Lee instills in his team. In his mind, the term can encompass many different meanings, but it is about mindset at its core.

“I think it’s the key thing to remember when dealing with all our work—our tasks, our relationships, collaborations, debates, conflicts, and so on—is that we have to be in the right mindset, with the right attitude in all our dealings.”

Lee’s Final Notes on Harmony

Sharing a few final thoughts, Lee spoke again about the importance of harmony, sharing his advice for aspiring hi-gineers.

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“These days, there is a widespread social atmosphere that emphasizes individual abilities and specifications, but I think sincere attitudes and approaches to difficult problems in work and human relations are essential for the development of individuals and companies.

While working at a company, you often encounter dead ends and must navigate internal competition and conflict. However, by focusing on supporting your team with a harmonious attitude and communicating with consideration and sincerity toward others you’ll be able to take on any challenge.”