In September 2019, POSCO Newsroom sat down with the supervisor (SV) of PT.Krakatau POSCO discussing his post-retirement challenges in Indonesia. This month, the newsroom met with another such SV, Min Keun Bae who is the current SV of POSCO Thainox, POSCO’s manufacturing subsidiary in Thailand.
| Thailand, the Largest Automobile Market in Southeast Asia
Thailand is known to be the largest automobile market in Southeast Asia. In 2011, POSCO launched ‘POSCO Thainox, the sole stainless rolling mill in Thailand to meet the demands of automobile steel products, which have a high dependency on imports. POSCO Thainox is also aimed to increase its market share in the Thai automobile and home appliances sectors.
To optimize the plant operation, expert field knowledge was crucial. That’s why SV Min Keun Bae came on board. Mr. Bae joined POSCO in 1982 and had worked for over 30 years in the stainless steel order processing and production managing area before retiring in 2016.
Mr. Bae was offered the SV position a year before his retirement by then President of POSCO Thainox. Bae said, “There was a place that needed me. I was able and had lots to offer, and I couldn’t find a reason to decline. So as soon as I retired, I headed straight to Thailand.”
| ‘Sawadee Kap’ — Befriending New Language, New Culture
At the beginning, everything was challenging. The mental burden of starting over in a strange new place was huge. However, with his positive and proactive personality, Mr. Bae adapted to the new life in Thailand.
Bae concentrated on learning Thai to better adjust to life in the foreign land — he watched YouTube videos during the commute, and at home, he practiced writing Thai-alphabets on his notebook.
As a result of his effort, he could start utilizing simple Thai expressions into conversations, and communicating with local staff became much easier. Mr. Bae maintains a close relationship with his colleagues visiting their houses and sharing meals on his days off.
| The Leadership of the ‘All-round’ Master
At POSCO Thainox, Mr. Bae is in charge of processing orders acting as a control tower between the production and sales department. He controls and monitors production so that the end product can be delivered on time. Another important task is cooperating with POSCO headquarter in Korea. Mr. Bae adjusts production volumes when the headquarter makes requests for overseas plants to meet the stainless steel supply that the Korean market can’t provide.
Every day, Mr. Bae is busy examining the product storage, coming up with a set of tasks to improve the work environment, and encouraging the employees. The jam-packed schedule, however, has its perks. “Had I stayed in Korea after retirement, I would’ve been left with simple chores. But here, I can really contribute. It’s a great pleasure to be able to help others with my experience even after the retirement,” he said with a big smile.
Ever since the ‘all-around expert’ SV Min Keun Bae joined POSCO Thainox, the company’s long-term inventory has reduced by over 10,000 tons — the long-term payment delay also went down. Bae’s meticulous personality improved the work environment in the plant making POSCO Thainox one of the top manufacturers in Southeast Asia.
The words of advice Mr. Bae would like to offer to those following his footsteps is never to be afraid of new challenges: “What follows inaction? Nothing. If you challenge yourself, there’s always something to be gained — even if you fail. The current failure can help you succeed on your next try.”
To learn more about Mr. Bae’s new life and the challenges he’s taking on at POSCO Thainox, check out the following footage (Korean).
“I’m too old for this… I can’t speak the language…” For POSCO Thainox supervisor Min Keun Bae who constantly challenges himself to learn, these are just excuses standing between him and an opportunity to grow. POSCO Newsroom will always root for the global masters who are advancing POSCO’s frontier spirit in all corners of the world..