Samsung re-engineers employee titles

Ready to break with tradition.

In June, Seoul based Samsung Electronics will reveal a new structure of employee titles designed to promote talented workers based on performance regardless of age or years of experience.

According to The Korea Herald, a task force team within the human resource management division has been working on the revision since the company’s announcement of a new corporate vision badged “Start-up Samsung” in March.

Samsung executives pledge the company’s new corporate vision “Start-up Samsung” at its headquarters in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on March 24.

Until now, Samsung has maintained a typical structure of five employee ranks that is common at other Korean conglomerates.

The titles are sawon (four years), daeri (four years), gwajang (five years), chajang (five years), and bujang (four to five years). It usually takes almost 20 years for a new employee to become an executive called sangmu or vice president.

However, in a sign that these changes may already be afoot, former Sony managing director Carl Rose was recently appointed to a vice president role in the Australian company.

Of the company’s more than 1,000 executives, only three are in their 30s and all of them are researchers with a doctorate degree.

Sources said the number of titles will be reduced to three or four to be more focused on jobs, not years of experience, while new titles are also likely to describe several project team leaders.

“A drastic change will be made in the way we have worked,” an anonymous Samsung official told The Korean Herald.

Some Samsung affiliates have already adopted a new employee title structure. For instance, the paper said that employees at Cheil Worldwide, an advertising unit, call each other “pro” to create a more flexible and creative working atmosphere.

In March, Samsung announced the “Start-up Samsung” vision with aims to change its rigid, top-down corporate culture, pledging to come up with a new roadmap for its human resource management in June.


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