CEO's Diary: A week in Korea


CEO's Diary: A week in Korea


In mid-September I was fortunate enough to travel to South Korea with RDA Orana Chair, John Walkom and TAFE Western CEO, Kate Baxter.

South Korea is Australia’s 3rd largest trading partner and with the recently implemented Fair Trade Agreement opportunities abound for increased trade and investment relationships. We have hosted guests in the past to design and implement programmes to bring about mutually beneficial outcomes. Our recent reciprocal visit has allowed us to further education, training and investment partnerships, the basis of which have already been forged in the Orana and forge new business connections, some who will join us in the Orana before the end of the year.

Here I share a few points of interest I learnt while I was there about South Korea, its industries, culture and way of doing business:

Economic Zones

Our first stop was Busan, the second largest city in South Korea, located within Korea’s largest industrial area, the ‘southeast economic zone’. South Korea has a system whereby economic zones are designated based on focus industries, in order to drive investment and innovation. In these zones tax and other benefits are given to foreign companies operating in these industries, allowing more favourable business conditions. This is a great example of business clustering for innovation and ease of doing business.

The importance of partnerships

The more I meet and work with South Korean partners, the more I appreciate the value of understanding business differences before trying to work in another culture. Relationships and trust are formed informally before you get down to business. This means you need the right introductions, and to ‘do the dance’ before talking hard business. If you rush this process, you can damage your relationship before it’s formed, but if you put the effort in at the first instance, the rewards can be massive. Not a lot different to the rest of the world really.

Korean hospitality

South Korean people are incredibly hospitable. As just mentioned, informal relationship and trust building is an essential step. Given the duration of our trip I was sure I’d have ample time to check emails, keep up with the office and maybe even sit back with a textbook or two. Boy was I wrong! From breakfast to bed time we were being introduced to new connections over meals, engaging in high level conversations, and being moved from place to place. Not only was this a sign of our host’s hospitality, but also their incredible work ethic and eagerness to build connections with the region.

RDA Orana would like to thank all those who hosted us over our trip.


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