Some might call it plain luck, but Jung Woo Park thinks it was predetermined. For someone with a lifelong love of all things motoring, being chosen by Daimler for one of just three positions put him on his dream career course.
For its new subsidiary in Korea, Daimler recruited three associates from 3,000 applicants to be trained for managerial positions, and Jung Woo was considered ideal for the role.
“The automotive industry was my one and only choice for a job, because cars were always my passion from childhood. Luckily, I was one of three chosen from 3,000 applicants,” Jung Woo recalls.
“I was sent to three different countries for training. I worked in Australia for more than four months, then I was sent to German headquarters, and also Canada so I could learn the whole value chain of the automotive business.”
That was back in 2002. In 2014, Jung Woo was offered the role of Director, Customer Services and Parts with Daimler Trucks and Buses China, before being appointed Deputy CEO in 2016. Then in 2018 he moved to Indonesia for the role of Marketing Director for Sales, Marketing, Aftersales, and last year was appointed President Director.
“I really thank the company because those overseas assignments gave me insights into mature industries and business practices in Australia, Canada and Germany.
They are very mature automotive industries, and I learned a lot for when we set up the new company in Korea, then China and Indonesia,” Jung Woo says, looking back at his journey.
“The industry in those economies is still emerging, so it was really helpful for my career.” On taking the President Director’s role in Indonesia, Jung Woo restructured the organisation to segment its vehicle range more logically by splitting the truck and bus division from passenger cars.
He also set up a new organisational structure based on functions, not products, and recalibrated the size of the organisation needed for future growth. “That restructure was very successful, and was, I would say, my first real achievement,” he says.
“This year is the 50th anniversary for Daimler in Indonesia, so we have a very long history here. However, we always focused on premium products with Mercedes-Benz. That’s why our market share was very small, and why Japanese brands dominate.
“We had to set up the right matrix for the company, with a vision of our mission and purpose – why we work – and strategies for the next five years. I’m very proud that we set up all these basics for the company together with all our managers. We had workshop rounds where this was discussed and decided by everybody, not by me or headquarters. I believe that was actually my second real achievement.”
Jung Woo could see that some adjustment was required for the company to gain a real foothold in the Indonesian market if it was to be more than a bit player. Daimler is renowned for its premium quality vehicles, but Jung Woo was convinced it needed something more.
“Looking at future opportunities, because of a population of over 260 million with a very young average age, the truck and bus market will grow significantly,” predicts Jung Woo.
“So we focused on three things – we had to show that we invest for the future in Indonesia, so we set up a local production facility for new trucks. The next decision was the right products for the country.
Maybe in the future, when the Indonesian economy grows further, they can afford premium trucks. Nevertheless, we focused on the right product for the majority of customers here – our new Axor truck, which is durable, strong, and priced economically.
You can only find Axor trucks in Indonesia because it’s a local brand we made specially for this market, and that is why we are growing our market share very quickly. We have already quadrupled our market share in the past three years.
“At the same time, COVID-19 is affecting us very badly,” Jung Woo says. “Not only us, but retailers and our end customers as well. We have to survive this COVID-19 situation together with our business partners. If one part goes down now it will take more time to revive or ramp up our sales after the situation, and to find another partner.
“Nevertheless, we also need to show our social responsibility towards the people related to our business. Recently, our manufacturing company Daimler Commercial Vehicles Manufacturing Indonesia, together with our other entity for passenger cars, provided protection kits to medical personnel at one of our local hospitals. Daimler Commercial Vehicles Indonesia also provided staple food and masks to bus and truck drivers in Indonesia so that they can survive the pandemic and keep Indonesia moving.”
Armed with the right local product for the market, Jung Woo is focusing on appropriate infrastructure and partnerships to elevate Daimler’s market position. With eyes now on the broad market, Daimler needs more retail partners to handle the support and service needs for trucks and buses – critical, says Jung Woo, for its customers’ businesses.
“That is why we are focusing on network development,” he points out. “As a result, we have doubled the network in the past three years, and are planning to add even more network partners in the future.”
With more than 300 people in the trucks and buses division, Jung Woo is changing the company’s culture from a European model to one more suited to local conditions.
“This is a 180-degree change we are pursuing to make it more flexible and agile – not so hierarchical but more responsibility to employees. Everything starts and ends with people.
I’m not only responsible for these people but also their families and our customers. We’re influenced by our people and dealers. Everything around me shows that what we’re doing here is really contributing to the society and to the people.
So that makes me happy and that’s why I come to the office every day with passion. “I’m still fascinated by this auto industry, how it changes our lives and how much value it adds to our lives. That’s why I like it so much.”
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