Passion & Expertise: Fertilizer for life

It seems fertilizer not only helps crops grow, but can be the source of a fruitful career too.

Having been with Samsung C&T Trading & Investment Group for nearly 30 years, Principal Professional Park Hun-bae has spent those decades accumulating expertise in the fertilizer business. In 1992, Park joined what is now known as the company’s Fertilizer Group, which he currently leads.

Samsung C&T Trading & Investment Group is one of the top 10 global fertilizer players, having first entered the market in the 1970s. During the 1990s, when Park became involved, the company’s fertilizer business started to concentrate on Southeast Asia as it expanded overseas. Let’s find out how he has been able to become an accomplished leader in his field.

Expertise through diverse experiences

Park’s expertise has been earned through countless experiences across the world. When he started out, he admits he knew very little about fertilizer.

But it turns out he was assigned to this field because he majored in Russian Language, which would later prove to be invaluable when he was dispatched to Russia. This period abroad was just one of many “diverse experiences” that Park recalls over his years in the fertilizer business.

“Though I have been working only in the Fertilizer Group, I have met with various people from partners located in more than 40 countries around the world and have experienced many things. Fertilizer is the medium,” Park says.

Expertise through relationships

Park also places a lot of value in the relationships he has forged over the years and especially the roles played by his colleagues.

“I owe everything to the members of our group,” he insists. “I would like to say that I am proud of my colleagues who I think are the real experts as they constantly strive for improvement.”

He also highlights the importance of direct communication with partners abroad “for the conclusion of dealings and settlement of claims,” emphasizing that different people offer “different thinking.” And this is also where the word “trust” comes into the equation.

Park tells junior colleagues that it is vital to develop one’s ability in order to build trust, as a partner will only entrust a general trading company with a task if they trust the ability of the person in charge. “Do not think trust will just be naturally established over time. It is essential to improve the abilities that are essential for your business.”

Expertise through overcoming challenges

Park also remembers moments of great difficulty as periods of learning and growth.

“Opportunity always exists in crisis,” he says, noting that many industries are going through a difficult time this year and emphasizing the need to adapt to find solutions. He draws on an example from 2013 when the fertilizer business was earmarked for growth by Samsung C&T.

“We spent busy days trying to develop various new partners. At first, we faced difficulties as we were not familiar with the business custom of a country when we began to do business with a new market and a new partner. All the members of our group went through rough times. But the experience led us to reestablish the quality management process, and the members of our group came to acquire a higher level of quality knowhow. In addition, we came to realize the importance of market information and partner analysis and took the opportunity to develop more stable business models.”

In times of adversity, Park says, “All the members of the group become one to share internal issues quickly and solve problems promptly one by one.”

Fertilizer for the future

The global fertilizer market was valued at around USD 200 billion in 2019, with Asia Pacific being the most significant region – accounting for over half of last year’s total revenue. That domination is expected to continue amid ongoing demand from crop growers and consumers.

Going forward, Park is confident that the Fertilizer Group will continue to “grow” despite the challenges confronting the world in 2020.

This is based on his own decades of experience, the Fertilizer Group members’ trust in each other, and their track record of overcoming hurdles. After all, even difficult soil can bear fruit with the help of a little fertilizer.

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