Thanks to the team led by Chulyong Cho, MBA ’98, the Johnson Club of Korea is strengthening its relationships with alumni and Johnson.
By Irene Kim
When Chulyong Cho, MBA ’98, stepped up as the new presidentof the JohnsonClub of Korea, he began to implement significant changes. For more than 20years, the club had been operating affably enough, holding two meetings and two golf outingsannually – primarily informal social gatherings. But Cho, president and CEO oflogistics company Dongwoo International, had participated in the club sincegraduating and wanted to improve the organization, in part by doubling thenumber of meetings and greatly enhancing their networking and educationalvalue. “When I became the president, I set my vision to make the club a goodcommunity where the Johnson alumni in Korea can interact with, and learn from,each other,” he says.
Cho also increased the club’s officers from three to eight, augmenting the team andmaking the roles more specialized. This helped break up and systematize leadershiptasks, while providing each officer with some overlap and backup, explains SungYoon Woo, MBA ’08, CEO and cofounder of private-equity firm Credian Partners andthe club’s VP of communication for Johnson. “Each officer has a main focus, butwe all share ideas and we’ll fill in for others when they need help.”
“The Johnson Alumni Club of Korea is an amazingmodel of organization, hospitality, and school pride,” says Sean Scanlon,associate dean of Alumni Affairs and Development. “When I visitedSeoul in September, I was impressed with Club President Chulyong Cho as well asthe seven other officers who coordinate their membership lists, events, and communicationswith the broader Cornell Club of Korea.”
The club holds four quarterly meetings plus two golfoutings per year. Before each quarterly event, the officers meet to discuss theprogram and decide on a guest speaker. “It’s helpful to have collective ideasfrom a relatively large group, as this brings in new ideas,” Woo says. Cho’schange in focus and the brainstorming sessions have exponentially increased thenetworking and learning content of the meetings. “For example, a strategist in the equity market might share a market outlook forthe year, or a consultant at a prominent consulting firm could analyze successand failure cases of leadership. At other times, entrepreneurs might introducetheir new venture to the attendees,” says Woo.
“These sessions, withoutexception, are followed by Q&A and discussion sessions that remind us ofour time in the Johnson classroom,” he adds. “We believe that these newprograms are a success due to the fact that alumni come not only to meet theirold friends, but also to learn something new.”
Cho’s team also improved the club’s communications with itsmembers. In addition to notifying alumni of events via email, they now also usea local social networking service provider, Naver Band, which allows clubmembers to freely post messages or pictures and exchange ideas. “SNS makes iteasier to communicate with the group, as it makes mobile access easy and addressesany concerns about the privacy issues of Facebook,” says Woo.
Meeting attendance has grown from about 20-30 alumni inprevious years to about 40-50 alumni, says Woo, and its makeup has changedconsiderably. “Not that many youngalumni would attend in the past, but now, as the number of recent graduates isincreasing, the number of young alumni attending is increasing,” Woo explains.In fact, the number of Johnson alumni in Korea has grown rapidly, more thandoubling in the last eight years to well over 200.
The improved quality of meeting content plus the betternotification system have also contributed to attendance growth, Woo points out.A big draw is one of the club’s most steadfast attendees, Kyung-BaeSuh, MBA ’87, president and CEO of multibillion-dollar global cosmeticsfirm AmorePacific, who is always willing to address his fellow alumni andprovide valuable business advice.
As the Johnson Club of Korea has grown its membership andengagement level with local alumni, it has also strengthened its connectionwith Johnson. When Dean Soumitra Dutta recently visited Korea with AssociateDean Scanlon and Director Banoo J. Parpia of Cornell Alumni Affairs andDevelopment, club members set up an interview for the dean with Maeil Business News (South Korea’sequivalent of the Wall Street Journal),increasing Johnson’s footprint in the Korean press and enhancing the dean’sglobal media coverage. In addition, “Dean Dutta, Associate Dean Scanlon, and Director Parpia provided an update onwhat was happening at the school, as well as listened to what our alumni had tosay. They made us feel connected with the school,” says Woo.
“Every one of our alumni feels good that he or she graduatedfrom Johnson. They’re proud to be part of the Johnson community,” Woo says.”And the Johnson community in Korea just gets better and better. I feel good tobe part of that development.”
“Johnson alumni and all Cornellians should be proud of theJohnson alumni in Korea,” says Scanlon.
“Working with the seven other officers of the leadershipteam, I have tried my best to foster the Johnson community,” says Cho. Aboutreceiving the Henry P. Renard ’54, MBA ’55 Regional Alumni Club of the YearAward, he adds: “I’d like to express my sincerest thanks to the club leadershipteam members who have offered strong support despite their busy career andfamily activities. And we all thank the school for this recognition.”