We talk about the launch of Asia Pacific as if it were one launch.
That couldn’t be further from the truth.
Every single office had to be started from scratch. Behind every single office stands an individual who believed in our mission and worked 24/7 to make it happen.
For the launch of our office in Seoul, that person is Sue Kim. The photo below captures our original team members in Korea, a brave bunch for sure. Sue is standing second from the left.
One Saturday afternoon in 2000, I spent a good four hours visiting Seoul office furniture stores. As a one-person business, I had just leased work space at a friend’s company. I was so happy to be able to have my own office … and I was preparing for Hoffman Korea’s launch!
The first thing I did was shop for furniture. After hours of browsing multiple stores, I finally found a nice meeting room table with accompanying chairs. When I saw the beautiful modern silver frame and rich black leather of the chairs, I stood there for another 40 minutes as my mind raced. These were expensive chairs …
Can we afford these pricey chairs? Maybe I should choose a cheaper kind.
How many chairs would I need? How many people can we hire within two years? I might be able to hire three more people and win two more accounts within two years. OK, I can afford at least six chairs then.
Will these chairs represent well when we host client meetings and media interviews? Let me sit down to feel how comfortable they are.
I went through the same thought process with every little decision I had to make to hire people or to participate in new business pitching.
In those early years of Hoffman Korea, I remember waking up in the middle of the night many times in fear; I was passionate about not failing in my mission. After several months and years of hard work, Hoffman Korea grew significantly with solid revenue, a talented team and good client portfolio, including Dell Computer, TIBCO Software, etc. I am still talking about how cool it was to meet with Michael Dell in person when Hoffman Korea supported Dell’s press conference.
After my two-year assignment was complete, I passed along my GM role to my successor.
My PR career continued another seven more years at Hoffman headquarters, and following that, I joined the corporate side. Now, I am head of marketing at Marvell Semiconductor.
I visited Hoffman Korea in 2015 for the first time since I left. There was one object that grabbed my attention immediately in the meeting room: the set of chairs! I saw the same beautiful black leather chairs I purchased 15 years ago. When a tear fell from my eye as I stared at those chairs — still in really good condition — the Hoffman Korea team had no idea why I was so emotional. After several office moves and personnel changes, the team had no idea about the origin of those chairs and how they ended up in the meeting room. To me, it was much more than a chair … it was the legacy and symbol of all the sweat and efforts from every member of Hoffman Korea over the years.
PR agencies in Korea have evolved over the years with more competition and a tough tech industry. With the strong leadership of the new GM, the Hoffman Korea team continues to grow even stronger.
Congratulations, Hoffman Asia Pacific, on this 20-year milestone and all of your great achievements! It was a fantastic experience for me to not only launch the Hoffman Korea operation, but also to work with a brilliant group of people in Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and China. I am so honored that I am part of this significant milestone as founder of Hoffman Korea.