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Nick Reilly’s ‘Passion’ Behind Success
By Seo Dong-shin
Staff Reporter - The Korea Times
4/6/07



David Nicholas (Nick) Reilly, president of GM Asia Pacific, is one of few foreigners the Korean advertising industry turns to to make a ``feel-good'' commercial.

Another would be Guus Hiddink, the former football coach of the South Korean national squad.

It is an indication of the trust and respect the Welsh executive Reilly has gained from Koreans.

Reilly was at the forefront of revitalizing the once defunct Daewoo Motor. Under the banner of GM Daewoo, he led the company that had become a national shame back to success and respectability.

It was a feat achieved against great odds. Many skeptics doubted that the global American automaker GM could do much with the ailing branch of a Korean conglomerate that was beset with labor unrest and financial troubles after the Asian financial crisis.

No wonder his book published in Korean this week, under the title ``Passion'' (David Nicholas Reilly, translated from English by Yoon Dong-gu; Hansmedia: 280 pp., 15,000 won), is grabbing so much attention. Everyone, both the public and those in business, wants to learn the secrets of his success. The book will be printed in Korean, and released in Korea, for now.

``It's essentially a book about the people of GM Daewoo, about what they've contributed to the success of the company,'' said Reilly, who is now based in Shanghai, China, in a meeting with Korean reporters in Seoul Tuesday, ahead of the book's release.

It may sound like a modest statement for the head of a top global company regional office who took time out of his busy schedule to write the book, a job he has never done before. One must not forget, however, it was Reilly's ``putting people as No. 1'' policy that was vital in the dramatic recovery of GM Daewoo.

The company made the headlines in the media last May when it finished the re-hiring of former employees, who were involuntary laid off for cost-cutting reasons. Out of the 1,721 laid off in February 2001, all of those willing, or 1,605, were reinstated. It was an unheard of situation, as companies usually prefer hiring young, new people when recovering from restructuring.

As relaxed and upfront as the 58-year-old businessman may appear to be now, the five years he spent in Korea had its share of difficulties.

Daewoo Motor's labor union had a reputation for being militant, and as they didn't know what to expect from the new, foreign, company head, they were hostile from the start.

Article Continues: http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/culture/200704/kt2007040618040411710.htm

Nick Reilly, now president of GM Asia Pacific, offers a toast to GM Daewoo employees in a dinner meeting held during his 2002- 2006 term as CEO of GM Daewoo, in this file photo. /Courtesy of Hansmedia
 

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Great article, I'm going to have to look into that book. He sounds like a great man, we could use his skills over here.

I'm pretty sure if Ghosn wrote a book, it wouldn't have anything to do with putting people first. It would probably be all about himself, and cost cutting.
 

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``It's essentially a book about the people of GM Daewoo, about what they've contributed to the success of the company,'' said Reilly, who is now based in Shanghai, China, in a meeting with Korean reporters in Seoul Tuesday, ahead of the book's release.
A touch of deference in a business leader? Who'd thunk?
 

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Another article today:

밒 appreciate your warmest hospitality. I never expected this,�said Nick Reilly, former CEO of Daewoo Motor Co. when he visited its labor union office for the first time since his inauguration in 2002. What kind of hospitality did he refer to?

What he faced from the company was not hospitality, but a threat. Picture a scene where the automotive company뭩 laid-off workers, about 30 to 50 of them, got in his way and chanted 밡o merger.�Reilly recalled those days at his recent book publication ceremony. The employees who led the protests were rehired. Four years later, they gave the leaving CEO a plaque of appreciation, saying, 밳ou will always be in our memory.�

The memoirs depict GM Daewoo뭩 resurgence after he took the helm of the company from 2002 to 2006. Reilly led the then bankrupt Daewoo Motors (currently GM Daewoo Motors) to 400 percent growth in four years and surpluses for two straight years. The details of the memoirs tell that the journey was never easy.

He described the bleak situation when he arrived as 밶 marsh infested with alligators.�Not only the company and creditors, including the Industrial Bank of Korea, but also the government and the public carefully watched the tough negotiation process. The labor union staged and restaged protests against the merger between GM and Daewoo. He had to persuade the boardroom of General Motors, which ordered him to exclude the Incheon Bupyeong plant, which was seen as a ground for militant unionists, from the merger.

What disturbed him the most was the accusation that GM would take away Daewoo뭩 core technologies through the merger and reduce it to a mere subcontractor, making GM products for domestic demand. In response, he picked 밎M Daewoo Auto and Technology,�for the name of the company after the merger, showing that he had no intention to render Daewoo a mere subcontractor by putting in 뱓echnology.�

He rehired 1,605 workers out of 1,725 laid-off employees by March 2006. Behind this unprecedented decision was his deep understanding of Korea뭩 corporate culture.

He said, 밒n Korea, losing a job means losing family, friends, and a place in society. I used almost all channels, including media and administrative offices, to find the dismissed workers to give them a second chance.
Source: http://english.donga.com/srv/service.php3?bicode=130000&biid=2007040729518

 

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asim said:
This guy is awesome, I hope I can get his book to read. I love reading about the revitalization of the car industry, especially when it is an inside view.

I also want to get "All Corvettes are Red" to read again. That was also a great read, and made me respect the C5 so much.
I would agree.

Hopefully, some GM execs get the point that if you treat workers fairly and honestly even when things are bad, they do remember and will help acheive postive goals when given a second chance.

Great post Ming.
 
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