(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)
I met JaeHee Chang at The Asian Leadership Conference (ALC). It is a premier international conference where global leaders come together to talk and provide solutions for the pressing issues Asia is facing today. The event is hosted by The Chosun Ibo, one of the major newspaper in South Korea.
JaeHee is the Chief Marketing Officer at TOROOC and is the one leading robot LIKU’s global launch. She started working as a management consultant, worked at large companies as a strategist in the field of internet service and marketing agency.
She was born in Korea, grew up in the US, and had explored China for one and a half years. She loves to drive business growth with her creative and fun ideas. Outside of work, she enjoys driving her 1997 Mercedes, taking ballet classes, and singing as a band vocalist.
What makes you do what you do?
Inspiration. I do what I do because I have ideas and desire on how things-to-be-done. I am leading the global debut of robot LIKU at TOROOC, a Korean startup company. LIKU is 45cm tall and weighs 2.5Kg. It is a small, intelligent, biped robot. LIKU walks, talks, and dances, freely expressing its own emotions. After meeting LIKU in person, for days, I was filled with ideas about how to introduce LIKU to the market and inspire people to take LIKU home. Thus, I had no choice but to accept when the offer to lead this business came in my hands.
My job is to create and increase awareness of LIKU and eventually persuade people to take one home. The era of ‘a robot in every home’ has been only a prediction, a myth since Bill Gates mentioned in his article in 2008. If at some point the market has to be created and to grow, then I want to be the one who initiates. Bringing a new product to the market is such an exciting job because I get to help people find reasons to buy. The best reason being ‘I buy because I love this’, I do what I do to make people love the product I deliver.
How did you rise in the industry you are in?
Bold and somewhat crazy ideas. Yet, those ideas stay in the boundary of favorable surprise, and at the same time, I make sure that they generate a solid business outcome. Being capable of finding a fine balance between creativity and business development has led me to be where I am now.
“Recruiting Carnival”. When I was at an HR platform startup, I created a festival-like recruiting event where both HR professionals and prospectives can casually learn about each other, drinking beers with live music played in the background. Participants are encouraged to come in casual attire and to bring their family and friends. This very idea was picked up by numerous companies in need of HR branding and launched in 5 different cities in Asia namely, Seoul, Tokyo, Taipei, Hong Kong, and Singapore.
Another idea was to make LIKU an official attendee of F8, Facebook’s annual developer conference and it really happened! LIKU’s artificial intelligence is based on PyTorch, free and open-source software developed by Facebook’s artificial-intelligence research group. LIKU was welcomed by all attendees, but it was meaningful for PyTorch team and the developers to see the living case.
Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you?
At a large agency, it is often hard to draw the boundary of work I do. Also, my ideas never go to the market as the original version. It is always amended by clients and bosses in the course of multiple reporting. I am not saying this is bad. However, I was so curious, ‘what if I get my ideas out as they are? Will it work, generating a meaningful business result?’ I wanted to challenge myself to set my own agenda and be responsible for it. Working at a startup in charge of marketing and business development was a great place to start.
One of the biggest challenges is managing the work culture. Working outside of my job description should not be a problem. It is important and necessary to pay attention to every single person in the company whether s/he is happy and satisfied with the work itself and as well as the result.
Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
I have quite a few women and men whom I can go to. When I have a specific question in need of advice, I reach out to someone who is most likely to have related experiences.
How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him/her?
Silicon Valley’s ‘pay it forward’ culture has always worked in my case. I find the right person and ask for help. I didn’t meet one person who wasn’t willing to help me. Of course, I too do the same.
Now, as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
Setting the agenda and creating work for myself and the team help me keep growing. When the agenda is set wrong, the consequences can be disastrous. After the agenda are set, communicating them to the team becomes quite important. Thus I spend a lot of time communicating the agenda effectively to colleagues. This process requires much time and energy that when one cycle is over, I have grown up.
Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
I consciously support diversity because it is the right thing to do. I have grown up with learning to love across differences. Diversity is at the center of building a work culture that everyone being respectful of each other’s work and life.
What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
A great leader should be able to set a vision, small or big that can convince people the work they do and be encouraged to do better. The leaders should also be able to place the right person at the right post. Most of the startup companies have difficulties in recruiting talents and limited resources, thus the leader should really pay attention to resource allocation.
Advice for others?
Never be satisfied with what is given to do. Create the work you would love to do. Trust me. It is much more fun and much more rewarding.
Express. Be as expressive as you want. Never assume that people will know your unspoken words. Communicate in details and frequently, of course in a nice manner.
If you’d like to get in touch with JaeHee Chang, please feel free to reach her out on her email [email protected]
To learn more about Torooc, please visit https://www.torooc.com/