Updated January. 09, 2014 06:50
"Don`t complain about unfairness. Just say `we can do it` with confidence."
Cho Mo-ran, CEO of Hanjin International Japan, said so during an interview with the Dong-A Ilbo at the headquarters of Korean Air in downtown Seoul on Tuesday, when she was asked about what she says often to younger working women. Late last year, Cho was named the only woman chief executive at the Hanjin Group, which operates Korean Air. She is also the only woman CEO of the entire conglomerate`s history except Cho Hyun-ah, the executive vice president of Korean Air and KAL Hotel Networks and the eldest daughter of Hanjin Chairman Cho Yang-ho.
Hanjin International Japan supplies manpower to Japanese airports and manages facilities and properties of the Hanjin Group`s affiliates.
The process in which Cho Mo-ran expanded the roles of women started from small things. When she was involved in the group`s overseas public relations in 1998, the group did not put any woman staff on a graveyard shift because the job was "hard." As a department manager, she performed her duties equally with men, saying women were up to the job.
In 2000, she became the group`s first woman employee with a child to go on a short-term overseas dispatch.
"My interviewers ask me if my parents-in-law, husband and child were okay with my new assignment," she said. "Of course, I asked them for their understanding. The company just had no idea that women were able to do the same thing (as men). The more confidence you speak with, the more opportunities you have." She worked at Japan`s Narita International Airport for one year.
After joining Hanjin in 1990, she cut her professional teeth in passenger transportation. She also made headlines in 2012 when she became the first woman in the conglomerate, except for members of the group`s controlling family, to be promoted to an executive position. Currently, the Hanjin Group has 10 women executives, including Cho.
Cho`s "responsibility leadership" shined in 2011 when a devastating earthquake hit eastern Japan. At that time, she was working as the branch manager of Korean Air at Japan`s Haneda International Airport.
"You have a place to run away to (Korea)," her Japanese staff told her. "We don`t have anywhere to go." Cho told them quietly: "I have two years left before my term in office ends. I live with my family here in Japan. The remark brought all staff in unity.
What are the important things to women leaders with reputation for communication? Cho said that it is to have "considerations" for men. "Women are used to talking about their own issues but men tend to seek to resolve them on their own," she said. "For men, it is better to detect their issues and encourage them to talk whenever they need to, rather than forcing them to talk. If you drink coffee with women staff, it is better to hold an athletic contest for men."
As the CEO of Hanjin International Japan, her biggest challenge is to lower the company`s employee turnover rate. As the number of "freeters," or part-time workers, increase in Japan, employees of manpower outsourcing companies rarely stay at one workplace for over 18 months.
"I will try to select talent employees, train them for quality services and share the company`s visions and culture," she said. "The leadership of women proficient in communication will help a lot."