Former CEO Jang In-hwa Is Nominated For POSCO Chairman

CEO Jang In-hwa
CEO Jang In-hwa

Former POSCO President Jang In-hwa (69) was selected as the next chairman of POSCO Group.

The POSCO Holdings CEO Candidate Recommendation Committee (from now on referred to as the Fuchu Committee), comprised of seven outside directors, confirmed former President Jang as the next chairman candidate on the 8th. Subsequently, the Board of Directors of POSCO Holdings decided to select candidate Jang as an executive director candidate and to list him as the final chairman candidate at the regular general shareholders’ meeting in March.

Candidate Jang was born in 1955, graduated from Gyeonggi High School and Seoul National University’s Department of Naval Architecture, and received a doctorate in marine engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He joined the Pohang Research Institute of Industrial Science and Technology (RIST), POSCO’s core research and development institute, in 1988 and is POSCO’s representative’ steel man’, having served as the head of the Steel Structure Research Institute, head of the POSCO New Business Department, head of the Steel Marketing Solutions Department, head of the Technology Research Center, and head of the steel division. Ahead of the election of the next president in 2018, he competed with current president Choi Jeong-woo as the ‘final two’.

Many people inside and outside of POSCO say that former President Jang is an excellent appointment as he has experience in the primary steel sector and new business, finance, and marketing fields. However, former CEO Jang, who resigned from the management position three years ago, is the oldest among the candidates, so attention is being paid to whether he can lead POSCO’s generational change.

Regarding the background of the selection of the next chairman candidate, the Fuchu Committee explained, “We judged that Candidate Jang will do a good job of strengthening the global future competitiveness of the steel business sector in response to the low-carbon era and enhancing the fundamental competitiveness of the new business sector.” Fuchu also said, “We expect that we will be able to lead technology-centred innovation along with global strategic planning and greatly contribute to improving the organizational culture within the group.”

Previously, by the ‘New Governance Structure Improvement Plan’ announced on December 21 last year, the Fuchu Committee narrowed down 22 candidates who went through reputation checks among internally and externally recommended candidates to 6 and then conducted in-depth interviews for two days starting on the 7th. Proceeded. The final candidates included former CEO Jang, former LG Energy Solutions Vice Chairman Kwon Young-soo, Korea National Oil Corporation President Kim Dong-seop, POSCO Holdings Future Technology Research Institute Director Kim Ji-yong, former Hyundai Steel Vice Chairman Yoo Woo-cheol, and former POSCO Holdings President Jeon Jung-seon.

There was a lot of talk and trouble before the candidate for POSCO’s next president was selected. Due to the’verbal intervention’ of the largest shareholder, the National Pension Service, which is interpreted as de facto government interference, and the accusation of a ‘luxurious board of directors’ by a civic group in the Pohang area, leading to a police investigation, voices both inside and outside of POSCO are raising concerns about whether the Pochu Committee will be able to carry out the appointment process normally. There were quite a few. In this process, current Chairman Choi Jeong-woo gave up his bid for a third consecutive term, and the Fuchu Committee pushed ahead with the appointment process, emphasizing ‘strictness and fairness’ even though it felt a ‘heavy responsibility.’

The Huhu Committee excluded Chairman Choi, who was opposed by the National Pension Service, from the candidate group, set the ratio of internal and external candidates to 3 to 3 while selecting the final candidate group, and excluded Vice Chairman Kim Hak-dong and Jeong Tak, who were classified as internal solid candidates, etc. It is evaluated that it became the basis for the completion. Regarding the appointment process, Fuchu Committee Chairman Park Hee-jae (professor at Seoul National University) said, “All members of the Fuchu Committee agreed that transparency, fairness, and objectivity are more important than anything else,” and added, “We must perform our duties independently without external interference.” “I put my best effort into it,” he said.

The management task before Candidate Jang takes work. As global supply chain reorganization and economic slump continue, POSCO faces numerous challenges, including the spread of protectionism and the transition to decarbonization due to the climate crisis. An immediate task is to go beyond steel and develop new growth engines in non-steel sectors such as secondary battery materials and energy. It is also considered the responsibility of the following management team to straighten out the messy internal organization and improve the system to prevent externalities.

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