Samsung Global Strategy Group Reviews | Glassdoor

Samsung Global Strategy Group Reviews

Updated December 14, 2016
54 reviews

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2.8
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Samsung Global Strategy Group CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon
Oh-Hyun Kwon
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54 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Work life balance is generally good when compared to external consulting BUT that is highly variable depending on your manager (in 11 reviews)

  • Opportunity to learn from your peers (in 5 reviews)

Cons
  • Stagnant corporate ladder advancement due to Korean culture (the only way to move up is by age, not by accomplishments) (in 5 reviews)

  • could not care less if you quit Samsung or take a role outside of GSG as soon as you are off their project (in 3 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. Helpful (1)

    "Very interesting work but be aware of long-term expectation of commitment"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    Pros

    great projects and nice people

    Cons

    not always told up front the expectation of 2 year minimum but realistically 5 year commitment before you will have the opportunity to return to your home country with Samsung; some aspects of Korean culture can be difficult to adapt to


  2. Helpful (3)

    "Pretty good gig"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Samsung Global Strategy Group full-time

    Pros

    I genuinely don't understand some of these reviews. I think GSG is a great place to be. I did consulting before business school and in general the type of work is very similar except more strategic and visible, and the hours are much better. Lots to like. I think some of the reviews on here are from people who either 1. Had unrealistic expectations of their post business school jobs and are upset about it (which happens in almost every post business school job, especially consulting), or 2. They have never lived or worked in Asia, so they freaked out when Samsung did things differently then their last company in the US

    Cons

    The hours are good but not as good as they claim (in my experience)
    Upward mobility options are limited
    Living in Korea can get annoying and hot

    Advice to Management

    Take more interns each year so you get more people who know what they're getting into when they sign full time.


  3. Helpful (3)

    "OK place to work for now"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    Pros

    Great pay for the work

    Cons

    Not much movement on ladder

    Advice to Management

    More opportunities for movement


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  5. Helpful (3)

    "A great 2 years"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Global Strategist in Seoul (South Korea)
    Current Employee - Global Strategist in Seoul (South Korea)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Samsung Global Strategy Group full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    The GSG presents a wonderful opportunity to learn about technology, consulting, and international business. Living in Korea is great and the expat set up certainly helps with student loans. There is a mix of people in GSG but if you are good (e.g. Have consulting experience/learn quickly plus a good attitude) and have a high enough EQ to get on the good side of the Principals, APs, and Korean leadership that matter you can be managing teams after a year of joining and working on some really interesting business problems. Some people who have struggled on this front (and left reviews here) were not willing to play this game, and if that is the case for you, you will have a frustrating 2 years.

    Cons

    This program is going through an identity crisis. They want GSG to be a general management program for high potential foreigners to become company leaders. The fact is, very few do, and those who do have to spend 20+ years with the company and be very lucky. They say they want us to run the subsidiaries and have P&L but this has never happened. To be clear, you must be a Korean man to have P&L. To my knowledge there is not a single female / African American / LGBT running our subsidiaries.There is one non-Korean across the world running a sub.
    So you have a choice - decide that you will be the first, and accept that after GSG hits their KPI of transitioning you to the line the next 18+ years you will rarely, if ever hear from them and it is up to you and how lucky you get. Know they invested in you heavily the first two years but then they will forget about that investment and people in the subs may not have ever even heard of this program, the program that is supposed to be the source of subsidiary leadership talent. Or, you embrace that this is a wonderful learning opportunity for 2-3 years, and at the end, leave with no regrets.
    If the GSG wants to really be a general management program, we need to be shown from the very top that this company will trust non Koreans to make big decisions on behalf of the company. So far, that trust has not been shown, not a single shining example. It is such a waste - it's makes it seem like Samsung has this very expensive program to check a box that says 'We are doing so well... we even have foreigners!'


  6. Helpful (9)

    "Toxic work environment with nice perks"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Manager in Seoul (South Korea)
    Former Employee - Manager in Seoul (South Korea)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at Samsung Global Strategy Group full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Compensation for the first two years is great, especially considering the overseas tax breaks.
    - Work life balance is generally good when compared to external consulting BUT that is highly variable depending on your manager. Late nights and weekend work is at times common, as it is for many post-MBA roles, but you can never work from home due to IT constraints.
    - Living in Korea is a wonderful experience (albeit frustrating at times) and the vacation time provided allows for fantastic travel opportunities.
    - Highly talented and capable coworkers who possess an adventurous spirit. I was thoroughly impressed by the overall quality of people at the GS level.
    - Great learning experience initially (especially if new to consulting).

    Cons

    - The leadership… or I should say the complete and utter lack thereof. This is the key driver of the truly toxic environment at GSG. The vast majority of organization's leadership (those above the role of engagement manager) are career consulting generalists (lacking any particular industry or functional expertise) who ended up on the latter end of “up or out” at their respective firms. They have absolutely no vested interest in, nor commitment to, developing the bright eyed crops of newly minted MBAs that enter the program every year. The “leaders” could not care less if you quit Samsung or take a role outside of GSG as soon as you are off their project. Be aware there is absolutely no mechanism for upward feedback. This encourages a burn and churn management style. Bring up the concept of a mentor at this organization to any alum and watch them laugh out loud. The Associate Principals and Principals who have stood the test of time are solely concerned with their ability to continue receiving their cushy expat packages, as quality talent leaves for greener pasture because they are not optimizing for getting paid the most for doing the least possible.

    - The career path… or I should say the complete and utter lack thereof. This is an organization with a complete identity crisis. The current leadership now claims the ‘Global Strategy Group’ is a general management program, NOT an internal strategy consulting organization. Explain that to the Engagement Managers, Associate Principals and Principals who’s consulting projects are solely evaluated based on consulting evaluation frameworks and grade you according to them as well. After 18-24 months 90%+ of incoming classes are expected to transition to “the line”. This process is the incredibly ambiguous and lacks any semblance of transparency. Be hopeful you aren’t one of the several people every class who ends up being the only foreigner within their group, in a building 20 miles South of Seoul doing nothing meaningful. If you want to be a manager of people within the next 15 years look elsewhere. Despite what exceptions might be highlighted during recruiting presentations, HR policy is to block you from transferring to a team outside of Korea prior to spending 4 years at HQ. It is quite common for US or European teams to want GSG talent but to have Corporate HR block the transfer, they would rather you just quit the company... that’s not a joke and it happens constantly.
    - Most transitions to “the line” require you to commute to Suwon 20 miles South of Seoul. Expect to spend around 3 hours a day on an uncomfortable bus in start and stop traffic.
    - Compensation increases after the first two years barely accounts for inflation

    Advice to Management

    - Eliminate the program. It is a completely ineffective talent pipeline (nearly everyone leaves within 1-3 years) and doesn’t function in any manner resembling a general management / rotational leadership program as leadership disingenuously claims. It is also an equally ineffective internal consulting group due to the lack of accountability of internal clients to execute on the recommendations made, as a result the actual impact of projects is shamefully low.


  7. Helpful (2)

    "Watch Out"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    Pros

    Work life balance and the comp (for the first two years) is fantastic. Don't plan to stay longer.

    Cons

    Development is fantastic in GSG, terrible after you transition to a permanent group (nearly everyone must transition 18-24 months after joining.)

    Advice to Management

    Must figure out a way to give people real responsibility and any kind of integration after transition.


  8. "Global Strategist"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Global Strategist in Seoul (South Korea)
    Former Employee - Global Strategist in Seoul (South Korea)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Samsung Global Strategy Group full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Pay is good, especially since housing allowance is provided. Opportunity to learn from your peers.

    Cons

    Policies and directions are not transparent.

    Advice to Management

    -


  9. Helpful (10)

    "A fantastic experience filled with frustration"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Global Strategist in Seoul (South Korea)
    Former Employee - Global Strategist in Seoul (South Korea)
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Samsung Global Strategy Group full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    GSG is a fantastic experience, that really allows you to conduct some interesting projects with a great group of people and gives you an amazing life experience that you will treasure
    -projects have very high visibility: frequently presenting to heads of businesses, and at times c-level. This may sometimes be under appreciated, but in the context of such a large company, particularly a Korean one, it's great
    -projects, depending on how much you like what you're aligned to can be interesting , however, a few things may complicate this: not enough support from the top (your projects may or may not matter), your projects may be just an exercise of consensus building (they already know the answer, they just want additional validation), or projects the group has no business doing (not true strategy projects).
    -amazing experience working for a Korean company in Korea: you're getting a real expat experience
    -opportunities to work on a lot of different international business problems with lots of travel. Be warned though, the travel usually won't be fancy: accommodations will be second tier and when possible outside of metro areas. Company travel policies are still dated and doing expenses requires patience
    -AMAZING group of people who are highly intelligent and for the most part supportive. Your friends and coworkers will become one and the same. Of course this is often challenging as well, but a still huge net positive.
    -comp is ok, the tax benefit is what really makes it appealing for fresh MBAs. Easy to save money in Seoul if that's what you're looking to do
    -for a big company with a lot of reporting and bureaucracy , there is certainly a sense of urgency at work. The company culture can be described as: panic, however, this provides for a sense of importance in your work and things can move quite quickly when consensus finally builds. This is a positive for the right person, but can be at times either stressful or comical (sometimes what is taken extremely seriously is pretty laughable by western standards)
    -some protection from general pressures of Korean work culture because you're a Foreignor, but that decreases as you move out of GSG and into a business unit

    Cons

    -tough place to be for women, both socially and professionally
    -the Seoul office is nice, their main campus though, where you'll be if you choose to transition, is awful. The commute is long, the bus is terrible, and the campus itself is not a nice place to work
    -career opportunities at Samsung outside of GSG (most people will leave the group to a business unit in Suwon after 1-2 years) are based on availability and politics so you may have to move to something you aren't super excited about. Be flexible.
    -transition opportunities back to your home country within two to three years are nearly impossible, it does happen, but most typically within 3-5 years and you'll have to carve your own path. Incentives in Korea are to keep you in Korea, so it may be a battle to get them to let you move with the company. YMMV
    -not very many SMEs in Korea for samsung: not many people to truly learn from.
    -Seoul, though not a bad place, can be tough to adjust to: weather usually sucks, lack of international products at reasonable prices, pollution, very insular (not a global city at all), and generally has this depressing lost in translation feeling. There are lots of pluses as well, and it's a generally ok place to be, but living in Korea can get very frustrating once you get over the newness of the experience: but hey, that's expat life!
    -hours are a mixed bag: many people get up and leave at 6pm and head home without regard to project quality, but this depends on the person. Generally hours are reasonable but things certainly get very hectic around key deliverable dates and before and during work trips.

    Advice to Management

    -try to think about why you want foreign employees in the first place, and don't think of them as KPIs: build out long-term paths for them
    -don't use going back to your home country with samsung as a carrot: people eventually will grow tired of it and leave on their own.
    -provide REAL job training: make sure people leave the group with TANGIBLE skills
    -try to build more camaraderie between foreigners and Koreans


  10. Helpful (23)

    "World's Largest Potemkin Village"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Global Strategist in Seoul (South Korea)
    Current Employee - Global Strategist in Seoul (South Korea)
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I have been working at Samsung Global Strategy Group (More than a year)

    Pros

    Same as what others have written ... decent pay, nice office building, opportunity to meet cool people from other countries

    Cons

    * The company is the world's largest Potemkin Village. After a few weeks on the job, you will begin to see how amazingly incompetent 97% of the employees are. After you a while you realize that nearly the entire company is a scam. The company is no different than the the throngs of people filing into and out of the plastic surgery centers around the Samsung HQ, who are trying to beautify themselves for the world - while trying to drown out their own internal desperation. You will watch as the company publishes fake and misleading information to internal and external stakeholders. Some well known examples are when the company lied to investors about the number of tablet it sold (you can actually google this), the number of smartwatches it sold (actually it had to give them away, not sell them), etc.

    * The propaganda is unbearable. During training you will be told things like "the benevolent leader of our company cried for his people after the Korean War". Which, obviously is not true. The founder was apart of the slave holding Yangban Class and a well known Japanese collaborator. He was even put in prison by the republic's first president for such efforts. Since then the family has gone to jail for fraud. No kidding, they actually say stuff (all the time) using verbiage that is reminiscent of General Franco ("he loves you like a son", "he works so hard because of his love for you")

    * You will have to play part to or witness a lot of shady business practices. Just in the last year Samsung has had some pretty damning evidence laid against it for many varying instances of economic espionage. Consider Dyson, Taiwan Semi, Nvidia, TiVo, Microsoft. My personal favorite was when Samsung illegally obtained and used critical strategic documents from discovery process in the Apple lawsuit (you can google all of these)

    * Within GSG you will have Korean minders assigned to you. These are people who have no business experience, and, for the most part (there are a few exceptions) are pretty clueless. But, their job is more or less to "keep you in line" and place a layer of power between you and the company. The result is beyond annoying, as you have group of people treating you like you are a second class citizen, trying to bully you and make clear that they are an insider and you are a foreigner

    * You will be apart of a system that systematically screws over it's own country, employees and people. The company forces most into early retirement in their 40s and 50s, leaving them financially unprepared for retirement. This is one of the root causes of the abject poverty that most of Korean's elderly endure (Korea has by far the highest elderly poverty rate in the developed world). Just a short distance from the company HQ is the Guryoung Village Slum, where thousands of homeless elderly live without power and running water. Probably the best example of this occurred just a few weeks ago, when Samsung got its Korean shareholders and employees to vote for a seriously questionable merger. The merger saved the founding family hundreds of millions of dollars in inheritance tax. Two weeks later the already way-underfunded national pension fund lost hundreds of millions of dollars, as the stock and company earning continued to tank

    * The company is declining fast. The Samsung groups holds something like 60+ different businesses. Most of them are totally worthless. Despite raking in several hundred billion dollars in revenue, almost all of the net income comes from the mobile business (which is fast tanking). Not only that, but the revenue figure is counted repeatedly, as Samsung sells advertising, IT and other professional services to itself (and really no one else - as these business units only customer is actually Samsung itself). The company is a huge systemic risk. Unfortunately, the systematic risk will soon be realized as Korea's neighboring countries also figure out the "lie, steal and cheat" business model

    * Don't believe for a second that a wide variety of views exist on glassdoor as a result of sky high MBA expectations. If this is the case, then why are the same sentiments echoed all over the internet? The WSJ has published some blogs about what it's like inside a big Korean company, Quora has responses to such questions with answers like "working in a big Korean company is absolute hell", other Korean companies and other Samsung divisions (Samsung Life and Samsung C&T, for example) all have similar sentiments written about them on Glassdoor. For further evidence, you can read about how Korea has the highest score on the "misery index" and how over 50% would move out of their own country, if given the chance. Almost all of these things are a result of a disgusting corporate culture, to which Samsung is the poster child

    * Most of the company and culture is highly, highly racist. As people and employees are fed the typical "we are a special and unique race, that is better and more amazing than all others. The only reason we have not accomplished more is because of the systematic meddling and repression from outside cultures" soundtrack over and over and over again. Besides making everyone you work with racist and overly aggressive towards you, you will also have to listen to this soundtrack (and pretend to agree)

    Advice to Management

    Nooooooo advice.... please keep patting yourself on the back and telling yourself and the world how amazing you are


  11. Helpful (7)

    "Consider your future within Samsung after GSG"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Global Strategist in Seoul (South Korea)
    Former Employee - Global Strategist in Seoul (South Korea)
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

    I worked at Samsung Global Strategy Group full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    As others have stated, being content in Samsung GSG requires having realistic expectations about how your life will differ from working in a Western company. Also, because GSG is a temporary position for most (1-2 years) before being pushed into an operational role in greater Samsung, the pros and cons for both types of roles should be understood.

    In GSG, hours are good and the office is in a prime location in Seoul. You have the chance to live abroad and work in other countries (outside of Korea and your home country) as part of projects. You have a chance to spar with a very different business culture from a Western company. Sometimes your projects will have exposure to senior executives in Samsung, and I am told that this is becoming more frequent in GSG nowadays. By representing one of the world’s biggest brands, you often get access to other companies that you would not receive at a junior level in another job. Seoul is a fun, dynamic, 24-hour city and with your expat package you will be well-positioned to experience most of what it has to offer — you also have time and money for some great travel within Asia. GSG has a strong cohort of like-minded MBA graduates, which gives you an immediate social network in a foreign country. It is a bit like a 3rd year of an MBA course.

    In operational roles within Samsung Korea, you will get a first-hand experience of the frenetic, chaotic atmosphere inside a Korean conglomerate — you will understand how Samsung really works. If you survive you will be well-positioned to work for Samsung overseas.

    Cons

    First, though by outward appearances you are doing consulting, GSG does not operate like a consulting company. You will be monitored like you were back in high school — tardy if you arrive after 9am and truant if you depart before 6pm, even if you have absolutely no work to do. Occasionally even your lunch hours will be audited, and if you have the audacity to regularly take more than 1 hour to relax at midday … tsk tsk. Travel policies are physically taxing (you fly economy class everywhere around the world except Brazil) and expensing can be a nightmare. You also don’t have access to the same research resources as a consulting firm (you’re largely expected to show amazing Google skills), though this is improving. There is a lack of connection between foreigner and Korean staff — the Koreans are often stuck writing reports and don’t have time to help you.

    New leadership in GSG gets mostly bad reviews, viewed as out-of-touch and disinterested in the quality of life for Global Strategists, and I sense morale in GSG now is low. There have been substantial growing pains with shifting from a quarterly project model to a dynamic staffing model, as Koreans cannot tolerate any resources “sitting on the beach”.

    You may be lied to during the recruiting process. The real time commitment in Samsung Korea if you wish to eventually work for Samsung overseas is 3-5 years, not 2 years as may be advertised (there are rare exceptions). You may also be told that it will be easy for your spouse to also get a job within Samsung or elsewhere in Seoul, but this is much more difficult than advertised. The company professes global values, but in reality sexism and racism abound, and integrity is lacking.

    In operational roles, promotions are based on tenure, not performance. Youngish entering Global Strategists in their late 20s will watch their older colleagues of similar competency get promoted first. Samsung HR is about as unprofessional and unresponsive as you can imagine — picture being a week from the end of your contract without an offer for a new contract, and HR is not talking to you … this happens to most people.

    Your quality of life often diminishes significantly once you transition out of GSG, particularly if you transition to Suwon (Samsung mobile and consumer electronics HQ). Suwon is far from Seoul, your commute will be more than 1 hour each way every day on an uncomfortable commuter shuttle bus. Work hours are often longer (though much shorter than daunting Korean work hours) and you are working in a bleak, monochromatic factory town. "On the line" you are rewarded for obedience and short-term execution, thinking be damned. It is “Ready, FIRE, Aim”. Benchmarking and imitation of the competition are overvalued; new ideas and fresh thinking are undervalued. In Suwon, I don’t think any group has a long-term strategy, the culture is anti-collaborative and extremely tactical. An excessive number of work tasks are deemed URGENT and managers give little prioritization. A lack of trust by the company in its employees forces Samsung to fall back on inane, often illogical rules and processes. Administration and box-ticking take precedence.

    Long-term, if you survive “on the line” in Korea, you will still hit a glass ceiling in your career as Koreans run 99% of the company. GSG has a poor track record of grooming employees for management roles within Samsung.

    Advice to Management

    Define meaningful career paths for recruited employees. Sit down periodically with Korea-based employees, including those that have transitioned into operational roles, to build and maintain a career plan including visibility into overseas transition possibilities. Treat GSG as a talent incubation program, not simply as a recruitment tool. Even if foreigners in Samsung Korea are largely there to meet a quota, don’t make it so obvious.


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