Whew – what a week!  Another one of the inspiring speakers at the WPO conference was Sung-Joo Kim, founder of Sungjoo Group, a retail group that operates
franchise stores for Marks & Spencer, Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci
in South Korea. She is also chairman and chief executive of MCM Group,
the German luxury goods company that has stores worldwide. MCM handbags and luggage are favoured by Cindy Crawford and Geri
Halliwell, and Ms Kim has turned the company into a brand with annual sales of
over $200m (£100m).   

We received a great conference bag designed by MCM which was wonderful, but more than that, I left with the feeling that this woman was inspiring and driven to prove herself and her capabilities.  She told us about her upbringing in Korea where women were told to be seen and not heard, and whilst her brothers were given every opportunity to learn and improve themselves, she had to fight to get her father to agree that she could study.  Even after this it was not expected that women run businesses, so she was a real ground breaker in Korea.

Ms Kim had five key points to deliver:
1. Focus on woman-ness – recognise your female talents and maximise them, particularly our emotional intelligence
2. Go Global – don’t be afraid to think big
3. Be an early adopter of IT – she gave the example of how competitive the business world was in Korea with all the big players being male owned businesses.  They tried to put her out of business but she used IT to her company’s advantage, enabling flexible working and demonstrating openness in all communications.  This won over both her clients and her workforce.
4. Practice corporate and social responsibility – no matter how small your business is, think about the wider implications of your business on the world and give something back.
5. Have a clear vision and “succeed to serve” – the focus should be on serving others and not serving yourself.

She has a clear vision to build the first worldwide luxury brand owned by a Korean and is well on the way to achieving it!