Samsung Electronics Co pushed the annointed heir of the company chairman closer to the top job on Wednesday as it cemented a global lead in smartphones with a stock price that is close to record highs.
The promotion of the snappily-dressed and bespectacled Jay Y Lee, 44, to the job of vice chairman comes after Samsung marked the 25th anniversary of his father Lee Kun-hee’s chairmanship last week.
Jay Lee has a degree in East Asian history from Seoul National University, an MBA from Keio University in Japan and also attended the doctoral programme at Harvard Business School.
Jay Lee is already chief operating officer and president and was thrust into the spotlight in June when then Samsung Electronics chief executive Choi Gee-sung, known to be his mentor, was promoted to lead the entire Samsung group’s strategy, a defacto No 2 role within the group to chairman Lee.
“As Vice Chairman, Lee will build on his existing responsibilities and take a broader role in managing Samsung Electronics’ businesses,” Samsung said.
“Lee will continue to play a critical role in transforming Samsung’s business model — the set (product) business into one based on a platform and the component business into a total solution provider.”
Samsung Group was founded in 1938 by Lee Byung-chull, Jay Lee’s grandfather, as a small trading company and Samsung Electronics now sells more televisions, memory chips, flat screens and mobile telephones than any other firm. Samsung Electronics alone is worth $195 billion, basis on Tuesday’s share close.
Jay Lee will have big shoes to fill as it was under his father that Samsung transformed from a low cost producer into a global player that has overtaken Apple in smartphone sales.
Critics say he lacks his father’s charisma, business insight and entrepreneurship.