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CEO Interview | John Walker, Macquarie Group of Companies, Korea

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WriterInvest Seoul Day17-11-17 10:17 View552회

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John Walker, Macquarie Group of Companies, Korea


1.  Please introduce yourself.

Sure. My name is John Walker, I’m a chairman of Macquarie Group of Companies in Korea, and I’m also the vice chairman of Macquarie Capital Business in Asia. But we are worldwide specialist areas like infrastructures, natural resources, and energy. We’ve got around 13,500 people across our global businesses. So although we were originally started in Australia, we’re now very much a global financial institution with the majority of our revenues actually coming from outside Australia. And naturally our business here in Korea, which is primarily based in Seoul, is a very very important part of our global and Asian footprint.

 

2.  What was the biggest advantage of doing business in Seoul?
I think there was a few things. One is that Seoul is very clearly ‘the major city’ in Korea. So one of the great advantages was its population, its proximity to other countries, in the region, because we were also we were very interested in company in countries such as Japan, China, etc. Again, this point is about being able to hire very well-educated people, very important to us. And the other big factor was the level of willingness of other financial institutions and companies in Seoul to partner with a foreign company that brought some unique financial technology. And, of course, the other key factor for us was the quality of communication technology. So at that time, some 17 years ago, other countries in the world were not so advanced in the areas like Internet. Korea was far and far and ahead above those other countries. The other thing that really as I reflect on, it was very important to us, was the accessibility of regulators and government officials. So it was not difficult for us to have a dialogue with government or regulators when we were not sure about what the law provided for and what it did not provided for. So these ingredients of transparency, accessibility, willing partners, and all of the things that are proper major city brings were extremely important to us as defining characteristics of Seoul. One of the bits of advice we give to other financial institutions that are looking to come to Seoul. Think about the idea of entering into partnerships with one of the very good quality local domestic institutions.

 


3.  How did you decide to published a book in Korea?
Well, it was an interesting time, I began writing those books right at the height of the 2008 global financial crisis. I was sitting on the airplane one day and I was thinking “what are the really important things in life?”. And as I thought about that, it was things like family, laughing children, etc. So I thought it was a good time to write a book that was some fun. And the thing that motivated me is, that year, I had read for the first time that ‘Dan-gun Shin-hwa’, the story of the first mother of Korea and she was a bear. So the character of the Bandal-Gom is the Ura Character. And I thought why not tell the rest of the world that Korea is not just big cities, but there’s also beautiful countryside as well.

 


4.  How did you manage to success your business?
Well. You know, I think I spoke earlier on about the importance of partnerships too. So one of the great things that helped us build such a big business, with the partners that we worked here in Seoul. So many many of the banks were our joint venture partners. Many of the banks provided liquidity to the projects that we’re investing into. So a lot of that growth is due to our partners and our investors. We also spent a lot of time with regulators and government officials, sharing our knowledge about what international markets were doing. And we think that helped us to be more welcome and helped us develop our businesses.

 


5.  How do you think about Seoul as an investment spot?
Obviously, we’re very very very happy with Seoul as an investment place, you know. So when you look at this region and you look at the infrastructure, the liquidity of the market, the forward-looking vision of the policymakers and the regulators, and just the whole attitude “CAN DO”. It really is a fantastic example of a financial hub and that is why this is the most diverse business for Macquarie in Asia.

 


6.  Please describe Seoul with a single word and tell us why.
That’s a very tough question. I think the word would have to be “Vibrant”. I think “Vibrant” is the word and I think that’s the case just because of the sheer energy of the city. Everything moving, shopping centers open 24 hours a day, people seamlessly travelling, people looking at their hand phones to understand what the traffic is doing or turning their heater on and off at home using that technology. And that determination to be successful, and make something work, and be a great success. You know that determination to educate your children, that determination to be the leading financial city in Asia. All leads to a lot of vibrancy, of course.

 

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