Interview with Vice Chairman and CEO of Kia Motors how international Standards allow Kia to move forward

Issue 43 – October 2012

This article first appeared in ISO Focus+ September 2012 and is summarised here with permission.

Hyoung-Keun (Hank) Lee , Vice Chairman and CEO of Kia Motors Corporation, has led Kia Motors through the ongoing global economic recession during which the company has posted among the industry's highest sales growth with expanding market share in nearly all countries in which the company operates. He has his sights set on guiding Kia to a market leadership position through the continued execution of the company's design management and quality improvement strategies, while strengthening the flexible operation of Kia's overseas manufacturing network, dealer competency, and service offerings to enhance global consumers' experiences with the Kia brand.

ISO Focus+: What is the strategic value of international Standards to the company's expanding market share? How do International Standards allow Kia to move forward?

Hyoung-Keun Lee: For a company like Kia, with 80% of our sales volume outside of Korea, international Standards are among the most important management tools at our disposal.

In today's fast-moving world of changing technology, it is crucial that our designers and engineers in facilities all around the world have a sound knowledge of international Standards.

They enable us to achieve the integration of work carried out in diverse Kia locations, including nine manufacturing operations in five countries, and to comply with the national criteria in the 149 markets in which we sell our products.

ISO Focus+: What is the secret of your success? What new Standards are needed to support Kia's pole position in terms of customer satisfaction and reliability?

Hyoung-Keun Lee: There is no magic formula or secret behind our success. We still aim to demonstrate Kia's brand slogan – The Power to Surprise – by providing customers with products and services that exceed expectations, and at a price that is perceived as good value. By doing this consistently and by continuously improving our products, more and more current owners are recommending Kia to their family, friends and colleagues – driving forward sales growth.

While complying with international Standards, creating and implementing new internal standards is important to our continued growth, and we also hope to influence future international Standards with our innovation and creativity.

Our success has been powered by our design-led product range. Now we need to push for even higher standards across our dealer networks, so that the purchase and ownership experience improves in line with the styling and quality of our vehicles.

ISO Focus+: Can you describe the use made by Kia Motors of ISO's quality management system Standards – ISO 9001:2008, and ISO/TS 16949:2009 – and what value they have added?

Hyoung-Keun Lee: ISO 9001:2008 Quality management systems – Requirements, is considered as the cornerstone of Kia's current quality management system. The core values of the ISO system are embodied in our current Global Quality Management System (GQMS) and, by utilising this; we plan to secure outstanding quality control systems, particularly in our activities aimed at preventing any quality defects.

ISO/TS 16949:2009 Quality management systems – Particular requirements for the application of ISO 9001:2008 for automotive production and relevant service part organizations, is an important tool for us to better manage our relationships with suppliers. After making a few improvements, Kia introduced its supplier evaluation system, providing a five-point measuring system in the areas of quality, payment, and technology.

ISO Focus+: What is the added value of this involvement for the industry in general, and for Kia Motors in particular?

Hyoung-Keun Lee: The opportunity to play a part in the creation of international Standards, based on experts from different countries reaching agreement, is vital to those corporations that are determined to succeed in the decades ahead.

Participation in the development of international Standards is essential to ensure that every factor is fully considered and resolved.

ISO Focus+: How does the company use ISO 14001 and what added value has it provided?

Hyoung-Keun Lee: In 2003, we announced our corporation-wide environment management system called ECO GTS 2010. Based on this system, our Korean domestic and overseas production facilities and service departments earned ISO 14001:2004 Environmental management systems – Requirements with guidance for use certification in various operational fields, including the first Dongfeng Yueda Kia plant in China and our Zilina plant in Slovakia in 2007, along with Kia Motors Manufacturing in the State of Georgia, USA, in 2011.

Since early 2012, we have been making gradual improvements to our IT system environment with the aim of strengthening our management structure and establishing more finely-tuned global environmental goals. With our current environmental management system, Kia has been able to post continuous improvements in environment-related measurements in all of our operational fields.

ISO Focus+: Have you considered the implementation of other management system standards, such as ISO 50001 for energy management?

Hyoung-Keun Lee: Since 2000, Kia has participated in a voluntary agreement (VA) to save energy and cut the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG). In 2006, we introduced Korea's very first three-stage GHG investigation process in our plants and service departments. We have been continuously monitoring and reducing GHG levels to ensure more environment friendly operations and expanding this monitoring to our overseas operations.

To strengthen our energy management and control of greenhouse gases, we are currently preparing for certification to ISO 50001:2011 Energy management systems – Requirements with guidance for use. We expect the Gwangju facility in Korea to be our first plant to earn certification later this year, and plan to be certified to ISO 50001 for all our operational fields in the near future.

ISO Focus+: How can Kia's Social Responsibility Charter be an example for other car manufacturers?

Hyoung-Keun Lee: We announced in 2008 that our corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme would focus on trust management, environment management, and CSR management.

We enacted our CSR charter in 2009 and, 2 years later, we introduced our own CSR index based on ISO 26000:2010 Guidance on social responsibility, guidelines to better scrutinise our performance.

Furthermore, we included in Kia's recently announced vision for 2016, the need to strengthen CSR management in areas related to the company's eight main strategic goals.

Kia's Social Responsibility Charter is not just a declaration, it is part of our management philosophy and vision, which is now at the heart of all our global operations.

Kia Motors Corporation is part of the Hyundai Motor Group, the fifth-largest automaker in the world. With its worldwide headquarters in Seoul, Korea, and operations in 149 countries, Kia has annual sales in excess of 2.5 million vehicles.

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Published in transport.

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