By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics has appointed its presidents Yoon Boo-keun and Shin Jong-kyun as co-CEOs of the world's biggest technology company by revenue, a move that is aimed at guaranteeing management independence in key business units.
The appointments result in the Korean technology giant now having three chief executives.
In a statement, the company said the new leadership structure will serve to clarify and enhance independent management of the two set divisions, as well as its component business.
Yoon will keep his current role of managing Samsung's consumer electronics division, which includes TV and appliance products, while mobile chief Shin will remain in charge of the company's information and technology (IT) and mobile communications division.
Kwon will also oversee the company's component business and represent the company at key events. The changes were approved at a recent shareholders' meeting at company headquarters in Seoul.
''Yoon significantly helped Samsung to beat Sony and maintain its global leadership in televisions, while Samsung's mobile business became the world's top since 2011 under Shin's leadership,'' said an executive at Samsung by telephone.
Officials and industry experts said the chief executive's role in the firm is comparable to that of chief operating officers in American firms.
''Much of the critical decision-making is done by the chairman,'' said one official, asking not to be named.
''Samsung is a big company with several divisions. They will benefit from adding some level of diplomacy to their corporate culture, or maybe Samsung is splitting up," said the official.
Yoon is widely-considered the top lieutenant of Samsung Corporate Office Head Choi Gee-sung and mobile chief Shin is expanding his influence amid his divisions' external growth.
Samsung Chief Operating Officer Lee Jay-yong, who is heir-apparent of the nation's industrial kingpin, is expected to get detailed backup from the three CEOs before taking the top helm at Samsung Electronics eventually, replacing his father and current chairman Lee Kun-hee.
Samsung said the multiple-CEO system was aimed at creating more synergy between component and set-making businesses and the new management system will take a cue for its clients not to share classified information it earned from overseas between divisions.
The company is the world's top supplier of flat-screens and memory chips as well as the global top manufacturer of televisions. Clients such as Apple have complained that Samsung is sharing confidential data for product development with other units, which is unethical.
''We don't see any such conflicts. We constructed a solid 'Chinese wall' between components and finished goods,'' the firm said in a press release.
The new system comes after being challenged by emerging rivals from key businesses that Samsung is currently involved.
In terms of semiconductors, Samsung is contending with China's ZTE and Huawei, as well as Qualcomm and Intel as new rivals, with a stronger resolve to better compete with its biggest bitter cross-town rival LG in next-generation TVs and to create a new eco-system in content.
''In today's rapidly changing business situation, we should be much speedier to actively respond to changing market demand,'' said the Samsung official.
삼성전자가 윤부근 사장과 신종균 사장을 대표이사로 승진시켰다. 이로써 회사는 권오현.윤부근.신종균 3인 대표이사 체제로 전환했다.
각 사업부별로 권한과 책임을 주면서 사업부간 건전 경쟁을 유도해 회사의 유기적 성장을 꾀하겠다는 전략이다. 이는 CEO 밑에 최고운영책임자 (COO) 들이 사업부를 챙기는 미국식 경영시스템을 차용한 것이다.
회사측은 ``올해 초 반도체, IT.모바일, 소비자가전 등 3대 사업체제로 사업구조를 재편한데 따라 부문장을 대표이사로 선임, 책임경영 책임경영을 할 수 있도록 했다’’고 말했다.
이 같은 조직 변화는 15일 열린 정기 주주총회 직후 이사회에서 확정된 사안이다. 각 대표이사가 각 부문을 이끌게 되지만 전사 차원의 중요한 안건이 있을 경우 권오현 부회장이 선임 CEO역할을 한다.
삼성전자는 또 이사회 산하에 사회적책임을 강조한 사회적책임 (CSR) 위원회를 설치하기로 결정했다. 최근 불산 사건 논란에서 보듯 회사가 기업의 사회공헌과 동반성장, 환경 및 공정 거래 등의 이슈를 적극적이고 조직적으로 챙기겠다는 뜻이다.
다만 이 같은 경영시스템이 엇박자를 낼 수도 있다는 우려도 있다. 특히 삼성전자와 같은 성과주의 문화에서 모든 완제품이 사실상 하나로 엮이는 컨버전스 시장 상황에서 각자 대표이사 체제가 제대로 시너지를 낼 수 있을까라는 점이다.
업계의 한 관계자는 ``이번 재편으로 각 사업부간 자율성과 독립성이 보장돼 `차이니즈 월 (Chinese Wall)’을 제대로 쳤다는 점에서는 투자자들의 지지를 얻을 만 하나 디지털 기기의 경계가 사실상 사라진 상황에서 공고한 협조체제 구축이 제대로 이뤄질 수 있을 지는 시간을 가지고 지켜봐야 할 부분’’이라고 말했다.