As a teenager, we are often asked what we want to be when we grow up. There is the traditional response of becoming the President or a politician, but nowadays, a good majority want to become a businessman or businesswoman. This winter, I was lucky enough to interview a prominent person with intellectual knowledge in business and economics - Professor Chang Sea-jin. Today, Professor Chang is the Provost's Chair Professor at National University of Singapore (NUS) Business School. Prior to joining NUS, he was an endowed professor at Korea University for fifteen years and held numerous appointments in respected universities around the world such as London Business School and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.
One of his recent accomplishments was publishing Sony vs. Samsung: Battle for Global Supremacy - a book translated in seven different languages and was voted among the top three best business books in 2008. Through his research, he concluded that Samsung benefits much from the Korean government, but expects the Chinese government to similarly build up the world's most powerful company. This will be an imminent threat to South Korea, since the Korean industry is heavily dependent on China. He also claims, that within a generation, companies such as Lenovo, TCL, and SAIC will dominate the world market. Professor Chang also believes that it is only a matter of time for China to fully establish itself and economically surpass the United States. The Chinese GDP was extraordinary starting from 500 B.C., and its population of 1.2 billion justifies the high possibility of the country's economic rise. In fact, Professor Chang plans to publish a book comparing and contrasting ten Chinese firms and a multinational firm within a few years.
As a dean's fellow of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, Professor Chang could have chosen to become a businessman. I asked him what inspired him to become a professor and his answer was quite simple. He loved the great joy that comes with teaching bright students. Also, he is able to manage his own time and have a chance to pursue his own research such as Sony vs. Samsung. He has taught in several universities worldwide, but he believes there is not much disparity in education within the undergraduate level. Nowadays, many Koreans are studying abroad believing that their government is not sufficiently supporting academics as much as it can. Professor Chang believes that Korea has changed a lot in terms of education. He also suggests that Korea should build more international schools in Korea, saying, "It is a good investment."
Q & A:
Q: People claim that China will economically surpass the United States. What is your opinion on this
A: I agree, and time is the only issue. China (and India) always had an amazing GDP starting from 500 B.C.
Q: Who is a more imminent threat to the Korean industry
A: China is a much more imminent threat. They want to build up powerful companies such as Lenovo (like Sambo Computer), TCL (like Samsung), and SAIC (like Ssang Yong Motors). The fact that China is geographically closer will also create some problems.
Q: What does the United States think about this
A: Both countries rely on each other so I believe it is a mutual relationship
Q: You have been a professor at Singapore National University and Korea National University. How would you compare the students
A: In the undergraduate level, there is not much difference. It's really in the graduate level that the difference becomes evident.
Q: What is your opinion of how studying abroad became a fad in Korea
A: I think it's good. Many people worry about this, but it's actually a great plus to Korea's future. Korea changed so much in terms of education and the government should allow more international schools in Korea. It is a good investment.
Q: What inspired you to teach
A: I love to teach bright students - it's a great joy - and I can learn from my research and can pass it onto others. Most importantly, I have no boss and I can manage my own time.
Q: What are your current plans
A: I am writing a book comparing ten firms in China and one multinational one. I am still working on it, but it should come out within a few years.