Shortly after Kyung-Bae Suh, MBA '87, arrived at Kennedy airport from Seoul, Korea, to begin his MBA program, he set out on the drive to Ithaca. "I took a shortcut," he laughs, "and arrived at Cornell seven and a half hours later!" Since he had only a New York City map in hand, the route was full of surprises—as were the next two years in a beautiful, rural community and a new culture. But he still values deeply the rigorous classes, outstanding professors, and rich experiences of life at Johnson.
Early on, Suh became curious about why Cornell's graduate school of management was called the Johnson School, and why some professorships had special names. The concept of named gifts was not common in Korean universities. "I determined that if I made a success in my field, I would make one of those gifts to the school where I gained so much knowledge and insight," he says.
In 2010, he and his company, sponsored by the Korea Foundation, established an endowment to fund a Johnson professorship. It will be awarded to a junior faculty member whose teachings embody a global perspective.
The AMOREPACIFIC Professorship helps us achieve one of our key strategic goals—to educate students to excel in a complex global business environment and contribute to improvements in global business practices.
Suh himself is the leader of a dynamic global business. As CEO and president of AMOREPACIFIC, he has dramatically transformed the company his father founded in 1945, first narrowing the company's focus to concentrate on cosmetics. More recently the company introduced Sulwhasoo, a new Korean herbal medicinal skin care brand, to take advantage of growing interest in Asian beauty. The brand rapidly overtook top European brands in the Korean luxury market and went on to gain a significant foothold in other global markets. In June, 2010, Sulwhasoo opened its first U.S. location in Bergdorf Goodman's New York store.
Suh remains deeply engaged with us, serving as president of the Johnson Club of Korea for many years, regularly hosting the dean, extending hospitality for student treks, and mentoring students and recent alumni. And when he returns to Ithaca, he knows the right shortcuts.
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