After our in-depth analysis of apparel company Zara in one of our classes this spring, those of us in the Korean IRP were well equipped for our visit to MCM, the luxury brand now headquartered in Seoul.
Our fearless leader, Professor Leipziger, through his long career at the World Bank, has made many great contacts, one of whom is MCM’s chairperson Kim Sung-Joo. To describe Ms. Kim as dynamic would be a vast understatement. Ms. Kim, whose family owned one of the largest chaebol’s (large conglomerate business) in Korea, bucked the trend and refused to agree to an arranged marriage to the son of another well-off chaebol family. Ms. Kim was kicked out of the family and had to fend for herself. With no funds or support, Ms. Kim started her own business, launching several luxury brands as an exclusive franchisee.
Ms. Kim, who graciously hosted us at her company’s trendy new store, shared how she has faced discrimination as a woman in a very male-dominated society, but has never been deterred. In fact, such hardships have only further encouraged her to persevere.
We were all awed by her strength and dedication, not to mention her sense of humor and adaptability.
After her presentation, Ms. Kim introduced one of her top-level executives who gave us an overview of the company’s strategy for entering China. The strategy couldn’t have been any more applicable to our global business program, and we all soaked up the wisdom.
Before we headed out, we did a little shopping (some of us who were willing to flash the plastic, as the prices reflected the luxury billing).