1/4 of Corporate Execs Have Degrees from Abroad

  • By Chae Sung-jin

    April 15, 2019 09:23

    About a quarter of executives in Korea's top 30 conglomerates have a bachelor's or higher degrees from universities abroad according to a study. That is roughly the same proportion as those who have degrees from the top universities in Korea -- Seoul National, Yonsei and Korea universities.

    This is partly the result of the first wave of Koreans who studied abroad in the 80s now being promoted to executive positions, and partly due to a growing preference among top businesses to recruit executives who either studied overseas or worked for foreign multinationals.

    One industry insider said, "Only 0.8 percent of staff at the top 100 Korean companies end up rising to the coveted rank of executive, and one of the most important credentials is a degree from overseas."

    Employment portal Job Korea compiled the academic backgrounds of 2,962 executives at 21 of the top 30 conglomerates last year and found that 24.2 percent or 716 were graduates of foreign universities, up three percentage points from 2015 and 5.5 points from 2009.

    The gap with the proportion of graduates of Seoul National, Yonsei and Korea universities narrowed from 8.7 percentage points in 2009 to just 0.7 percentage points last year. Still, the biggest proportion of corporate executives graduated from Seoul National University with 11.1 percent, followed by Yonsei University (6.9 percent) and Korea University (6.7 percent).

    KAIST, Hanyang, Sungkyunkwan, Pusan National, Inha, Kyungpook National and Sogang universities rounded out the top 10. At Samsung Electronics, 31.9 percent of 1,044 executives have degrees from abroad, while 22.8 percent graduated from Seoul National, Yonsei and Korea universities.

    By age, the vast majority or 73.3 percent are in their 50s, 21.2 percent in their 40s and 5.3 percent in their 60s. Only nine are in their 30s. Men vastly outnumber women in executive positions at 95.7 percent.

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