[Buzzvil People] James Kang, HR Manager

Buzzvil People took the opportunity to introduce each Buzzvillians with a variety of backgrounds, personalities, and thoughts. If you are wondering how the best colleagues in Buzzvil are working to create the best team, if you are curious about each of the colorful Buzzvillians, please pay attention to Buzzvil People.

1. Please give us a quick introduction of yourself.

Hello, I am Jung-wook Kang and I am currently in charge of HR at Buzzvil. I use the nickname ‘James’ at work. It’s been just over a year since I started working at Buzzvil. I have a variety of experiences before coming here. As a rookie, I worked in the training sales/consultant department at a company for about two years before opening my own business and provided facilitation and speeches for three years. After that, I did HRD at a larger startup business and moved to Buzzvil to raise my understanding on the overall culture of a workplace.

On the side note, my major at university was electronic engineering. I didn’t really get along in that major, so as I started working, I spent time thinking about what I really wanted to do and adapted myself to small changes. Personally, I like watching movies and reading books, and I also enjoy hanging out with people and just chatting. These days, I really enjoy strolling around the streets in Mangwon-dong with my wife and child.

2. What brings you to Buzzvil?

I first got to know Buzzvil last April on a recruiting website. I didn’t know the company beforehand, nor did I have acquaintances there. To be frank, I moved workplaces through my acquaintances up until now, so I was thinking about going somewhere without any connections. I submitted my CV right after I saw the job posting. I always had a passion for the ‘work culture’. Many companies pursue autonomous and horizontal work culture, but most of the time it just looks like it on the outside with temporary events. Just because you start calling other people by nicknames and run a few events, it doesn’t mean that the work culture has improved. (The Korean language uses honorifics to reflect the speaker’s or writer’s relationship to the subject. The honorifics express the differences in social status or age. So by using nicknames, many companies in Korea, including Buzzvil, attempts to create a horizontal work culture where members can voice their opinions despite their age and background.)

Buzzvil was impressive in the sense that the company deeply contemplates the work culture for its members so much that it was listed in the Top 3 (DBR, 2017) startup businesses with good work culture. As I prepared for the job interview, I read most of the posts on the company blog, and I gained more certainty than ever. If it wasn’t genuine, you can’t have all employees giving out the same opinion. The office is also located next to the Seokchon Lake so it made my decision making easier. It was also very crucial that the commute to and from work was enjoyable to me.

*DBR is equivalent to Harvard Business Review in Korea.

3. What is your role at Buzzvil?

Officially speaking, I am the HR Manager at Buzzvil. Unofficially speaking, I’m in charge of the event host. Ha Ha. I am the MC at events like the foundation day and the biweekly all-hands meeting.

As the HR Manager, I run the OKR, establish the evaluation system, run job training, and I also plan and run welfare policies. When making HR policies, I think it’s important to listen to the opinions of the workers and reflect them in the policy after going through genuine discussions. Surprisingly, that’s why I work hard on preparing for the general meeting sessions that are held every two weeks. I do think that it’s important to communicate and exchange our opinions when it comes to creating a work culture. In the end, a continuum of conversations leads to relationships, and trustworthy relationships project the company forward in a certain direction.

4. How does it feel to work at a startup? or the advertising industry?

I’ve worked at a startup business before, so it’s not very foreign to me. Startups are where you can enjoy horizontal communications and rapid speed of growth. I also get satisfaction from having the entire lead or autonomy in my work. That’s why I’ve taken more interest in a one-man business or startups instead of large conglomerates, and I think most of the people at Buzzvil are quite the same. They are content when they are able to venture their own creations and speak out frankly.

The advertising industry is a totally new realm for me. To be honest, when I used to be the user, the ads cut up the flow and made it inconvenient. But my thoughts on ads changed after I started working at Buzzvil. I realized that we are able to use tech-based services for free because of ads. If we didn’t have ads, a lot of the apps and websites wouldn’t be free. Right now, the ad ecosystem is growing faster than any other industry, and it is leading the internet industry. That’s why there are more uncertainty, sophistication, and competition, but in terms of the dynamics and potential for growth, it’s at the top of the world level. Particularly, I am certain that Buzzvil will continue to boost growth because we have exclusive patents and know-how for reward ads, as well as a large pool of partnership networks.

5. Is there something that you can say “this is the best part of being a Buzzvillian”?

Without a second thought, I’d say it’s the ‘people’. I know it might sound boring, but it’s true. I think it might be the only company where the ‘conservation of weirdos law’, which states that every organization contains a certain number of freaks, doesn’t apply. Starting from our CEO to leaders, everyone is rational, true to their decision making, and strives hard to make things work. That’s why I love the people here.

At Buzzvil, I think its value and policies are aligned well, though this calls for continuous efforts. When you look at startups these days, many of them give out compelling welfare policies to stay competitive. Buzzvil also provides many welfare policies, but surprisingly, the standards are kept quite strictly. It might be better to have more benefits as an employee (that’s why some people might dislike me), but if you keep running policies like that, you might forget, ‘Why this policy has been implemented, and why it needs to exist.’

For example, one employee asked us to expand the types of activities, like watching a play or going to the museum, that can be covered by the company’s self-improvement expenses. Of course, cultural life is important, and it’d be nice if we can meet everyone’s requests. However, we are a startup, and we still need to stay focused. It’s hard to distinguish what is important and what is not, but it’s definitely crucial. It might be disappointing for the employees, but the self-development expense is a policy to support the ‘growth’ of our workers, so I asked them to enjoy cultural life through social clubs at our company. The self-development expenses cover activities such as online courses, purchasing books and gym memberships. When I made such communications, I was glad that everyone seemed to be understanding. I am going to continue to emphasize ‘Growth, Communication, Autonomy, Endeavor’, which are the core values at Buzzvil, and we will continue to work hard on aligning them through our policies. I’m happy to be part of the process.

6. Do you have a personal goal or dream? If so, how does your experience at Buzzvil help you?

I have a few goals, but the one I’m really working on right now is to ‘create a meaningful example for work culture’. It’s actually quite frustrating to see so many of us who spend most of our time at the office just waiting for the weekends to come. I know that it’s hard to think, ‘I really want to go to work so bad!’, but I do want to create an experience where the workers can think, ‘I want to enjoy cooperating with good people,’ or ‘I want to grow more through work.’ I want to contribute to creating a work culture and workplace where its members can enjoy, find meaning and grow, and there needs to be more work culture experiments in Korea.

To achieve the goal above, I can’t do it alone. Work culture is like a combined gift box created by the CEO, policy, system, and people. Because it’s Buzzvil, I am confident that I can constantly make an attempt to make it better. I want to work on a variety of experiments to confirm that a wonderful work culture leads to the growth of its workers, as well as the performance of the company. And I want to do it with the Buzzvilians. If these case studies start to accumulate, the world might become a better place, even if it’s just a little.