“I know everything will go well. Whenever I am in unexpected hardship, someone will lend a hand. Opposite mind is my best assistance for all. Also, you have to know that there's always next time! Opportunity is around you every hour and every second, so you should just listen carefully to them and understand what they are saying to you.” This is words of a woman who has been with a foreign exchange market of Korea as a Living witness. Aren't you wonder how she has lived and became a first currency dealer of Korea?
SMT We heard that you begun your career as currency dealer by accident when you had worked on American Express Co. Inc. as a secretary. What made you change your career? And please explain the job, currency dealer.
KIM In 1980, when I worked at the bank as secretary, I had concern about whether secretary as a job has a bright prospect in the future, or not. It so happens that my boss suggested me as a dealer. At that time in Korea, the fixed exchange rate system was settled, so there was no need for currency dealers. However, he said Korea will adopt the floating exchange rate system soon in ten years, so it will be one of very promising occupation. As accepting his proposal, I decided to pioneer in the foreign-exchange market as first in Korea. After undergoing a tough period from 1980 to 1994, I became the chief currency dealer which was hardly found even in the United States. Now, I could say I am a living witness of the foreign-exchange market in Korea!
SMT What was the most memorable moment while working as the first currency dealer?
KIM At that time, there were no women in the foreign-exchange market, but only me. Also, curfew was being imposed at that time, so I underwent lots of tough but proud experiences. For instance, I often worked with the bank of Korea until very late, so it was almost midnight when I arrived home. After these days, I worked abroad as a trainer, so I educated staff members in Samsung and so on. Also, I’ve attended lots of conferences and seminars in many countries such as Egypt.
SMT In the 1970s, when there were not enough educational chances for women, you entered university in spite of the surrounding environment. Also after being mother with two kids, you never gave up studying and kept going on and on. What makes the engine go?
KIM When I was 19 years old, I really wanted to enter university. As you know, however, at that time in Korea, women could not get a higher education such as something from university. My mom also told me that it was the best thing for women to marry with good men and be good housewives. I didn’t want it and kept insisting on going to university. Finally, I entered So-gang university, and except the first semester, I received a scholarship for every semesters. Also, when I decided to enter graduate school, my daughter was 19 years old. She felt disappointed that I could not support her enough because of studying. However, I suggested studying together and it will make her more confident. I think that it doesn’t make any sense to give up something you want just because of the surrounding environment. Everything I achieved is by all my effort. If you choose something, go, keep going. That’s all.
SMT There are some fields of work which have intense deviation of number of women and men. Especially in the financial world, there is a saying that the financial world is the exclusive property of men. What do you think?
KIM When I first became a member of the foreignexchange market, the ones who felt difficulties were the men, not me. Ridiculously, I experienced that I could get more advantages than men, and also they did not discriminate or oppose me. However, I know the chronic trouble in Korean society that men have more power for promotion than women. The women’s grades are always higher than men’s at the first time, but men can be promoted much faster than women. That is unfair, but we should make our own ability to overcome it. For me, my character and family is my best helper of my career. Especially for women, infant care is the direct weakness in the workplace. So family’s
help is necessary absolutely.
SMT As a mentor of students who hope to enter the financial circles, do you have any special advices for them? And what do the financial companies want that students will be asked to have before they apply to?
KIM I think you are saying about kinds of ‘spec.’ Especially in the financial world, however, the most important virtue which is asked to keep in mind is ethics. One unethical dealer can collapse a bank completely. So, I advise that students who apply to the financial work should add their ethical character in small part of resume. Also, it is impossible to ignore certificates or something like language abilities for competing with others. You should choose one bank you want to enter, and dig up all information of the bank thoroughly. So you have to know which kind of certificates they are asking and giving extra points. I have seen lots of applicants who do not know enough about the company they are applying. This investigation of the company is the first step of being one of them. For this, you should set up a specific goal, not general one. “I want to be one member of *** section of *** team of *** company!” This should be the first step, and the next thing is opposite mind. Whenever I interview the new incoming employees as interviewer, the most attractive and impressive interviewee is someone who looks bright and cheerful. Cheer up and brighten up youths! All you keep in mind is confidence and sensible judgment which can catch out opportunity!