Alumni Profile: Jiman Kim
A family-owned business with a 40-year tradition of excellence in the automotive industry is hard to come by -- anywhere in the world. However, in South Korea, Dongbo Industries has been earning awards and turning profits as a supplier of engine and transmission parts since its founding in 1966 by JaeKyung Kim. Today, this exceptional company is led by University of Michigan MBA Jiman Kim, who is continuing in his father’s footsteps and blazing new trails at Dongbo
Armed with a BA from Chung Ang University, Jiman had already begun working as a director at Dongbo when he decided to come to U-M to pursue an MBA. He knew his family business well, but wanted to expand his horizons and gain insight into the world of engineering. Studying and working with the Stephen M. Ross School of Business and the College of Engineering as a Tauber student helped arm him with many of the tools he uses today.
Next Generation Prepares to Lead
Coming from his experience as a corporate executive, Jiman said that his time at Michigan and at Honeywell taught him to pay more attention to how people feel about their jobs and their contributions to their company. “It was my first job outside Dongbo, and it was the first time I experienced being an employee, not the employer,” he said. “The interaction with other employees and team members also made me examine things like diversity in the workplace. I had only worked with people of my same history and ancestry, so meeting people from different cultures was important.”
Reputation and Loyalty Weather the Storm
He also credits employee loyalty with much of Dongbo’s success. “We have a good team of loyal employees. Dongbo has a long history of quality and high standards,” said Jiman. Today, Dongbo has weathered the storm and even hired an additional 200 employees since 2008. “We export products all over the world and operate with a global mindset, embracing diversity and thinking differently.
His father, JaeKyung, remains with the company as chairman of the board but Jiman is the face of Dongbo. He leads the employee teams and meets with customers and suppliers around the world. Fortunately, he said, his U-M pedigree is often the icebreaker he needs in business settings. “People find out that I’m a U-M grad and we usually have something in common. It makes the world smaller. One example, the vice president of one of our clients is an Ohio State man. We joke about our rivalry, but he gave us a top supplier award!” said Jiman.
His management style allows his employees to take initiative and solve problems in their roles at Dongbo. “I asked my employees to tell me what they think my style is. They all said I use delegation, which I do. But I encourage them to do more. We have a slogan here -- ‘Higher Standards’ which means we not only meet our own company standards, we go higher,” he said.
Now, married and a father himself, Jiman enjoys reading to his 3-year-old daughter and playing soccer with his 5-year-old son. “He’s a very ‘American’ boy. After watching the World Cup, he decided to play soccer every day, two hours a day,” he jokes. Perhaps that dedication will land the next-generation Kim in the CEO seat at Dongbo.
Written by Nancy Davis