Nasir Barnes ’21 reflects on a visit with Yong Kim, CEO of Hanwha Asset Management and Head of Friends of Deerfield Korea.
From blocks away, we could already see the towering golden pillar rise up from beside the Han river. It perfectly reflected the skyline on its massive golden face as we slowly drove across the water. After another ten minutes on the bus, we arrived and could take in the tower up close. We entered the building, noticing our golden reflections as we passed through the spinning doors. Immediately we were greeted and led to the elevators, which shot us fifty three stories into the air in no time at all. We were in the headquarters for the Hanwha bank, a company run by a Deerfield alum and head of the Deerfield Friends in Korea named Yong Kim. We were there to learn about the economic history of Korea and how Hanwha began.
When we arrived to the fifty third floor, I was immediately taken aback by the view. You could see all of Seoul and really take in the size of the city from inside each and every office on the floor. We entered a very professional conference room and sat around the table. We were given a detailed presentation on Korea’s economic history by Ms. Hee-Young Kang, a senior member of the equity division (who attended Choate, but we’ll forgive her for that) followed by questions. For me, the most impactful part of the presentation was the questions we were able to ask. We learned a lot about how the company made its money through investments, how the Korean economy and other Asian economies are affected by the U.S. economy, and some ideal traits of a leader with a similar background to us.
Looking back on the conversation and relating it to the trip’s overarching theme of leadership, I took away that hard work and grit will take you farther as a leader than most other skills. Talking to a Choate alum who now holds a high position in a bank for an hour about economics, politics and her personal story really put into perspective the opportunities we have been given as Deerfield students and the opportunities we will have in our futures.