Korea's new top executives majored in business administration or mechanical engineering, entered big companies between 1987 and 1988, and waited 23 years and three months to be promoted to the executive positions. They mostly worked in sales or marketing when they joined the firm and are on average 49.4 years old.
They went to university in the early 1980s, where they experienced the two major events that shaped the era -- the June 1987 democratic uprising and the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
The Chosun Ilbo analyzed the profiles of 1,411 executives who were promoted last year in Korea's top 15 companies, including 652 who reached their first executive position. The time it took new executives to rise through the ranks varied among companies. Those at LG saw the quickest promotion, taking on average 21 years. At Samsung it took 21 years and 7 months, and those working for Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering had to wait the longest with 29 years. The average age of new executives was the lowest at Samsung with 46.7 years, followed by 47 at SK and CJ and 47.3 at LG.
Among all executives, Seoul National University graduates formed the largest group with 119, followed by Korea University with 85, and Yonsei University with 76. Pusan National University and Hanyang University were next with 70 and 47. Of the 1,130 executives who revealed their major, 635 or 56 percent majored in humanities and social sciences, 490 in natural sciences and engineering and 221 in business.
Mechanical and electrical engineering were the most common subjects among executives with a science background with 181 and 113. Among new executives in the 12 companies that revealed their educational qualifications, 85 or 10.9 percent gained their latest degrees abroad. LG had the highest proportion of executives with overseas credentials at 36 out of 117 or 30.8 percent.
Executives mostly built their career in sales with 23 percent of the 1,101 who specified their responsibilities. That was followed by research and development, production control, and strategic planning.