Managing succession with Asian Tigers Korea

Sep 07 | 2023

After 53 years in the moving industry, Joseph Song, Founder and owner of the company now known as Asian Tigers Korea, is retiring.

Joseph and Saenah Song He has passed the company on to his daughter Saenah Song, who has been operating as CEO for approximately 2 years.  In Asia, it is unusual for businesses to be passed down through the family line. In fact, Joseph believes he is the first moving company in Korea to ever do so.  It is even more unusual for a business to be passed from father to daughter.

But Saenah Song has been preparing for this moment for many years.  She had her first encounter with the industry back in 2001.  She was experiencing English culture in the UK at Leeds Metropolitan University at that time.  In the autumn of the year, Joseph seized the opportunity to visit his daughter and, during his visit, he brought her along to the BAR (British Association of Removers) conference in Manchester.  It was here that she met some of Joseph’s international friends and business partners.

On leaving university, she took the opportunity to intern with Ole Jensen (AMJ Campbell, Canada), Chuck Lawrence (Security Storage, USA), and Eric Lim (K.C. Dat, Singapore).  She also attended the HHGFAA meeting in Hawaii.  “I wanted to ensure that she would be interested in the business before she joined the company,” said Joseph. After she had enjoyed a trip to the island paradise, it was likely that she would.

Asian Tigers KoreaSaenah joined the business in 2003 and began working her way through every aspect of the industry, including packing.  But even then, it was far from certain that she would assume leadership of the business.  “It's more difficult for women because, culturally in Asia, women rely on men in a family setting,” said Joseph.  “So, I told her that she would have to get married first and confer with the new family, otherwise, I couldn't make the decision. Saenah married in 2011 and with the blessing of her extended family, the path was clear for her to assume the top job.”

“I knew the opportunity was there for me,” said Saenah, “but I wasn’t 100% certain. There were other career paths and opportunities that I was considering, but life has a funny way of bringing everything and everyone together for a reason and the timing was just right. That’s why I am here now.”

Joseph stepped down as CEO 18 months ago.  Since then, he has encouraged the staff to work directly with Saenah instead of approaching him.  “After stepping down, I haven’t been actively involved in any day-to-day matters, except for ensuring that the company is being managed in a financially responsible manner.”

What are the greatest challenges that Saenah feels she faces while running a company with 70 staff members? ...

Top - Joseph and Saenah Song.
Bottom - Asian Tigers Korea.

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