Cho, inaugurated in mid-December, attempts to break the mold in operating and managing the nation’s biggest utility company
KEPCO President Cho Hwan-eik
“Change” and “communication” were Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) President Cho Hwan-eik’s business buzzwords in his New Year’s message delivered at the KEPCO head office on Jan. 2.
Cho said, ”I’ll strive to reinvent KEPCO’s corporate culture by transforming what is a propensity for formalism and authoritarianism that have pervaded for a long time.” He continued, "While in office about three weeks, I’ve found a deep-rooted presence of formalism and authoritarianism, and I expect executives and staff to work toward a shift in our corporate culture and working atmosphere.” He urged his executives and staff to make their working atmosphere a flexible and freer one, unless working disciplines and guidelines are undermined.
He also stressed the need for strengthening communication with the outside to present the true picture of KEPCO.
Cho enumerated the tasks his executives and staff have to carry out during this year: stabilizing supply and demand, ensuring a stable supply of electricity, and improving of financial conditions such as electricity charge hikes.
When it comes to breaking the mold of operation and management, KEPCO President Cho has shown a tendency to do unlike his predecessors °™ Kim Joong-kyum and Kim Ssang-su, who had once taken the helm at such large-sized companies as Hyundai E&C and LG Electronics, respectively. The former presidents had a face-to-face confrontation with the government, particularly the Ministry of Knowledge Economy (MKE), over the scope of electricity charge hikes.
Cho, a former KOTRA president, took office as the 19th president of KEPCO on Dec. 17. He was a seasoned government official versed in the trade and industry fields, holding such government positions as the vice minister of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, the predecessor of the MKE.
Cho is apparently favoring a more flexible working environment in which his executives and staff are encouraged to make commuting times more flexible and instead focus on enhancing performances. He also took a step to open the elevator currently for the exclusive use of management and VIPs to all staff members.
In an effort to put an end to the vertical communication between KEPCO and its subsidiary power companies, Cho himself asked power company CEOs to not partake in his inauguration ceremony. He also held a meeting with power company CEOs at the Korea East-West Power Co., one of the power companies, departing from the conventional precedent of a call-up at the KEPCO headquarters.
He seems to be soft in appearance, but strong-minded, as the saying “An Iron Hand in a Velvet Glove” goes. Cho persuaded the MKE to give a green light for raising electricity charges by an average of 4.0 percent, effective Jan. 14. It was, in effect, a gift from the ministry, who was strongly opposed to a raise, 23 days after he took the helm at KEPCO.
Meanwhile, Cho said in his inaugural speech, “KEPCO will be committed to preserving its core value of ensuring a stable supply of electricity, and KEPCO will do its utmost to do as much as possible.”
Cho said he believes that more weight should be given to electricity being a public good, but stressed the public interests of public goods would dent the operation of businesses, so there is a need for a balanced management by targeting its public value and also reflecting its corporate aspects.
He said that reform can be made only when an organization accepts it and reinvents itself on its own. Cho said KEPCO is not the target of liquidation, and he will perform his duties with a loving heart toward KEPCO as its CEO. The new president said he will knock down the pending issues one by one after repositioning manpower in proper positions and taking an in-depth look at the reality and the current situation.
Cho stressed the importance of communication, adding that building confidence with the inside and outside of his company is badly needed. He emphasized not only two-way internal communication, but also active communication with the outside °™ customers, the government, shareholders, and the news media.
He appealed for his executives and staff to regain the pride and luster of KEPCO in the electricity industry after setting ”Again KEPCO” as the future course, which he said means going ”back to the future” in a sense.