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  • Keeping up with the speed of global business

Reason for joining ZEON and the early years

  • Interview photo 1

Choosing ZEON – a global company led by a select few
Large companies held no appeal

Large companies did not appeal to me at all. What I wanted was to join a company led by a select few that delegate responsibility to people who are still young. In my search for such a place, I visited lots of companies across various industries. And after narrowing down my search by specifically targeting "global" companies, I discovered ZEON.
I was surprised to find that all of the ZEON employees I met were surprisingly frank when I spoke with them, and they told me how newer employees in their third and fourth years with the company were working at the forefront of overseas sales. Intuition told me that this was the place for me!
During my first five years here, I worked in a department of the Specialty Business Headquarters that oversees production, logistics, sales and profit. There I gained an incredible amount of experience and was also able to observe the entire supply chain and better understand how a manufacturer's operational mechanisms work.
During my fifth year, I put in a request to be transferred to the sales department, which was instantly approved. Moreover, I was assigned to an important overseas client, which was not something I had expected the company to do.

Current work

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Being entrusted with the account of a top overseas manufacturer, right after joining ZEON
The product – a cutting-edge material for lithium-ion batteries

In my job I've been selling binders and other materials used in lithium-ion batteries to a leading manufacturer in South Korea, the largest market for these materials. Because I had been feeling so much pressure on the job, my mind blanked out when I first heard about being transferred to the position. Because lithium-ion batteries are on the cutting edge, developing them has become the focal point of fierce global competition, and my client was the world's top electronics maker. Plus, my grades in science were always terrible, and so I was rather anxious about taking on this particular sales job. When I started the position, I spent most of time trying to understand the technical aspects of lithium-ion batteries. I learned that binders are used for binding the collector foil with carbon compounds or metal oxides in the polar plates of a battery. And ZEON boasts a 60% share of the global market for negative electrode binders. While it's not the primary material, and only very small amounts are actually used, it is crucial to battery performance. Back then, I had no idea what made one adhesive better than another and had to start learning about the very basics. I sought answers from employees at the research laboratory and delved into technical handbooks.
Something else I've grappled with is the overwhelming pace of global business. South Korean companies make quick decisions and rarely ask for more time to reach a decision. For instance, after recommending a new binder, I'd likely hear such a response as: "That's great! You can deliver it tomorrow." And it's always like this! Moreover, when a company there requests a given level of performance, I have to work with the laboratory to promptly respond to that request, otherwise the deal could get snatched up by a competitor. Of course, the ideal action is to stay one step ahead of the customer instead of just trying to keep up with them. And this is hard work.
All the same, the work is something I really enjoy. I spend about two weeks every month doing business in South Korea, which keeps me incredibly busy. However, I can feel that my work is generating the results that are driving ZEON's Energy Materials Division, which is clear to me when I see the market growing rapidly and our customer riding the crest.
Looking ahead, competition is expected to intensify to include multiple factors such as price in addition to performance. As a matter of fact, this challenging situation is what is driving me to forge ahead with the determination to go after the top share in positive electrode binders too.

Dreams of the future, life outside my job, and a message

I am currently studying Korean.
My dream is to manage the entire Energy Materials Division.

For the time being, I'd like to continue facing the pressure that comes with my current job. While working in sales with the ZEON Group company in South Korea, I ask local employees to interpret for me. I am, however, studying Korean so I'll be able to speak directly with customers and communicate details and nuances on my own.
My current goal is to help the Energy Materials Division expand so that it can exceed market growth and become ZEON's largest department. In the future, I'd like to gain enough confidence to manage the entire business division.
I spend half of my holidays doing physical activities such as soccer and mountain climbing. The rest of my time is for relaxing at home and studying.
I feel great satisfaction at work and in my life outside my job. My advice to job seekers is to visit a lot of companies without harboring any preconceived ideas about them. I strongly believe there are companies out there that will let you live the kind of life you want.

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