[Interview] Metrocity CEO Yang Ji Hae, “I want to hand over the seed of ‘global’ to the next generation”
[by Koo Hye Jin / photo by Kim Gang Yoo / video by Park Soo Min] The brand that 1 out of 3 women in Korea owns.
‘Profit of 150,000,000,000 won’ ‘Award in Korea’s global CEO design’ and ‘The best enterprise chosen by undergraduate students.’ These are the phrases that explain Metrocity, which aims to become a global company from being top 3 fashion brands in Korea.
Today, bntnews reveals the private life and business administration theory of Metrocity’s young and talented CEO, Yang Ji Hae.
Her Management Story
In her early age, Yang Ji Hae became CEO of the company. When was the most difficult moment you faced?
To be honest, I didn’t have moments that I felt as so difficult. It wasn’t because I was good at business or because Metrocity was heading well. In work, things don’t work out as people expect them to be. My job is to correct those things in better way. Facing difficult situations is very normal and I don’t like to say that it was ‘difficult.’
How do you feel of having authority to decide as CEO?
It would be easy to live if there were just one answer. But, there are so many routes in getting a certain result. How you reach that result is much more important in life. To me, I try to find the answer in most effective way and think how I could minimize the sacrifice with less opportunity cost.
Fashion industry in Korea is much more competitive than in other countries. What’s the differentiated strategy that Metrocity has?
Competition in Korea is very extreme too, but the worse problem is having restriction due to differences in language and media. Fashion industry is certainly very competitive in other countries as well. Now that media, SNS and the Internet have developed, fashion market is getting bigger. Thus, having differentiated strategy in Korea only is now meaningless.
Since 5~6 years ago, we have researched to having differentiated strength in global market. The things we researched include social network services and e-commerce, which are very easy to be reached from other countries as well.
Moreover, we recruit more globalized people who can speak Italian, Chinese or Japanese to have them localized in global market.
What are the priorities in recruiting for Metrocity?
Personality, where they educated and how hard they put their efforts in are the most basic categories. Even if they may have experiences at other companies, they must be willing to start all over at Metrocity. The most important part in work is ‘completion’ so they should also have vision and passion.
What are the know-how of managing hundreds of stores and staffs?
All Metrocity stores in Korea are directly managed. In direct managing, there may be more loss in energy or manpower, but we see more powerful advantage.
At any store you go in Korea, the system is equally operated and they have ‘One Strong Voice.’
In my opinion, leader must be loved and honored. At stores, whether the company is operated as they managed is very crucial and it requires understanding of all staffs. Thus, I do my best at my position so that they could follow their CEO Yang Ji Hae. That’s my role.
Do you directly communicate with staffs often?
I’m understood by many staffs in many parts. Staffs at stores located at far places still welcome me with warm heart and send me big supports. I can feel that they focus not to miss any part I’m talking about.
As a singular brand, it’s very rare to make sales of more than 100,000,000,000 won. There are various types of fashion brands in Korea, but not many CEO meet each customer by walking around all stores. This part is actually very important in running business.
When the sale period in April and October ends, the executive team and I tour around the entire stores for three days and communicate with staffs. Through ‘empathic understanding’ program, staffs and executive team change their position so that executive staffs know the situation of stores. I’m no exception either.
On the other hand, staffs come to head office and learn marketing and plan designing materials. As a result, we get to understand each other’s position and situation.
Do you participate in designing products?
Yes, I do and CD (Creative director) also participates as well. We participate in processes such as sample sketch and window display concept. I’m also highly interested in interior design so I design chairs and bookshelf in showroom.
Personally, I love things that look pretty. But some things look uncomfortable in creating harmony with other products even if they’re pretty. Therefore, I consider the process of researching essence of creating those things very importantly. I obtain big energy from this process.
Is there an item that you like more specially?
For me, the things that I created because I wanted to use seem more special. In one wallet series, there’s one item with long chain that can be worn on shoulder. That one is actually our best-selling item, which makes me very proud.
What’s the purpose of holding fashion&culture trendy show and the goal you seek from it?
Today, lifestyle of eating, wearing, listening and seeing various things has become fashion itself. In such meaning, fashion&culture trendy show becomes the passage that shows what our brand seeks. We believe that they should be harmonized as one and we try our best to show our customers a better one.
Metrocity opened a first popup store at Takashimaya department store in Shinjuku. What’s the plan of advancement in Japan and global market?
From July 23 to 25, we had a presentation of Metrocity at T-site garden gallery in Daikanyama, Tokyo. We received many positive reviews from Japan’s popular buyers and press.
People from many other countries are also paying great attention to us. We plan to take a step forward in the U.S., Europe, Hong Kong and other fashion advanced countries. We are also considering China and Russia since the influence of buyers is much bigger there. As of now, the U.S. and Italy are the countries that we are contacting.
The ultimate goal of CEO Yang Ji Hae
I’m not running for the goal that looks limited. Metrocity has become a successful brand in Korea and we didn’t lose the leading position to other companies in the market where sudden changes occur continuously.
And this isn’t because I’m talented, but because I was handed such amazing ‘seed.’ I only gave water regularly. To the next generation, I’d like to give the seed of ‘globalization.’ I want to create a unique brand value that combines various genres of culture.
Her Private Story
Do you have private life living as a female CEO?
I consider my working hours as my private life as well. I don’t distinguish one from another. I’m still enjoying my life. When you start distinguishing private life and work life, you feel like losing your private time and have compensation. Therefore, I’m balancing work and my personal life as ying and yang.
What becomes your motivation when you feel tired?
My family, of course. My father always tells me that family is the same as aircraft carrier. When combat plane gets ruined from bullets, aircraft carrier fixed those damaged parts and sends them back to battlefield. Family is like that place.
When meeting all kinds of people, I sometimes get hurt and exhausted. My passion can’t be used as positive energy all the time. But when I go home, I feel healed from being with family.
You are role model for many women. Who is your role model?
My father is not my role model. He is the standard in my life. When I walked into his room one day, he was looking up constellation on the NASA webpage. He still has hobbies like skiing or wind surfing and is very talented in speaking foreign languages. Most of all, he is very humorous yet sharp. My father understands many parts that occur today and looks closely into things that young generation likes. I think many side of me are similar to those of my father.
Was your born-to-be ‘positive mind’ influenced from your family?
My father , of course had difficult times in the past, but he never said in words that he’s tired or it’s too difficult for him.
Also, my family members talk to each other very often. We spend at least an hour having breakfast together so we don’t pile up chronic grumbling.
Fashion brand CEO’s Signature Look & Shopping
I choose clothes depending on my mood or resolution on the day or give changes according to occasions. I originally have straight hair, but since I have an interview about being ‘young CEO’ I added some trendy looks and layered casual jewelry.
Many Korean women choose the most basic ones when they’re invited to certain places because they don’t know what to choose. But I prefer long dress or classic suit to try different styles.
To be honest, I don’t have time to shop so I just buy things when I go out for market research or business trip.
Yang Ji Hae’s recommendation in this season
Mini bag that can be worn across the shoulders. Until last year, big-sized shopper bag was in trend, but in this season, I recommend a mini bag that doesn’t limit your active work. When worn on one shoulder, it creates boyish look while it appeals feminine mood when worn across the shoulders. Since it’s summer now, choosing vivid color will look much better.
We heard you do djing with a nickname of ‘DJ CEO’
When I studied in Italy, I saw Armani djing in dj booth. I can’t forget that scene when he was djing in black trademark shirt. I started djing when I returned to Korea and I was really into it. I felt it more charming because electronic music suited the image of Metrocity. The expression is very clear and rhythm or melody is so passionate.
But since I have my full-time job, I don’t have time to do djing. And as I want to learn more about djing, I realize more that I’m not prepared well yet so I have listened to classic only for the past two years intentionally.
What is the ultimate goal of ‘Yang Ji Hae’?
Since I’m CEO of one big company, I believe that I have to be responsible all the time for my staffs and their families. But I don’t want to follow designated path. As I always have been, I’d like to be sincere in what I do and research in things that I like.
It’s not like ‘I don’t care what other people think of me’ but it’s rather ‘I believe that they will trust me.’ If not, I can try much harder. (photo by bntnews DB, Metrocity)
Write: 2014-08-11 16:20:35 / Update: 2014-08-11 17:40:07
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