x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

LG's new Gulf chief and his aspirations

The Life: DY Kim, who was appointed president of LG Electronics in the Gulf last month, talks about transitioning into a new leadership role as his company seeks to sell more robotic vacuum cleaners, smart TVs and high-end appliances here.

DY Kim says LG is the unrivalled market leader in home appliances. Lee Hoagland / The National
DY Kim says LG is the unrivalled market leader in home appliances. Lee Hoagland / The National

LG Electronics is reaching into many corners of the consumer technology market with products including robotic vacuum cleaners, "smart" TVs and other appliances. DY Kim, who was appointed LG's president for the Gulf last month, discusses transitioning into a new role as his company works to enlarge its presence here.

What is the major difference between your prior role in South Korea and your new position here?

I am directly managing or cooperating with our partners, especially in this GCC region. In Korea, when I was in charge of car infotainment business, I was directly handling car manufacturers like GM, Volkswagen, Toyota. Here, I have to co-work with our [distribution] partners - not directly through our retail partners. [Before,] I was handling about 60 [employees]. Now it's about 180.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I always emphasise work and life balance. Some people here, they work so hard, and they used to stay late and work weekends also. We have to think about long-term days, not short-term days. To be the number one company in the GCC region, we have to take care of our family. To get them to focus on their job well, management should serve them well.

What challenges do you foresee in transitioning from South Korea as a leader to here in the Gulf?

Actually, no big challenges. Before I came here, I was in a supporting job. Here we are in the front end on the business - the very front line. It's dynamic and exciting … My only thing is some of our partners, they need to improve their capabilities to be number one. Some of them are a little bit short on those capabilities.

What is LG doing to localise its offerings to build sales here?

We have more than 20,000 R&D people working day and night to introduce innovative products, and my mission is bringing those products to the GCC … Here, because the family is big, we're going to introduce the world's largest-capacity washing machine. Have you seen the 72-inch LG 3-D TV? That is at this point the largest screen in the world in the store, and we have plans to introduce a bigger size, [about] 80 inches.

Why introduce an even larger one?

Because people wanted a bigger one. I have many customers [in the UAE] who want the biggest, the world's biggest. This country is well placed for luxury [and the] biggest product. They want to buy it, no matter how much it is.

How much does the 72-inch TV cost, and how many people in the UAE have actually purchased one?

Dh34,000 (US$9,256). We introduced it only six months ago. We sold more than 500. That's a good number.

Who do you consider your biggest competitors?

Samsung or Sony, product-wise. In home appliances, we don't have any competitors. We are market leaders. They just follow us. We call them followers.

* Neil Parmar

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