Mother of Female CEOs’ Devoted to Helping Women Entrepreneurs

Mother of Female CEOs’ Devoted to Helping Women Entrepreneurs

Ahn Yoon-jung
By Jane Han / Staff Reporter
10-10-2007

At first glance, Ahn Yoon-jung’s soft voice and refined gestures may
mislead some to undermine her sharp eye for business. But the chief of
Sara Corp. modestly smiles and says she has enough charisma to lead
1,700 members of the nation’s biggest women’s entrepreneur group.

“I sometimes don’t even think my natural tendency or style
resembles a good entrepreneur because I lack the coldness that a
successful business leader needs,” Ahn, the founder and CEO of one of
the country’s first fashion companies and chairman of the Korea Women
Entrepreneurs Association (KWEA), said in a recent Korea Times
interview.
Despite her words, however, Ahn _ who is often nicknamed “the
mother of female CEOs _ has been a pioneer through the early days of
women in business leadership and made her mark in the industry.

After founding Ahn Yoon-jung Boutique in 1975, the design expert
established Sara Corp. in 1986, becoming renowned for the ladies’ wear
Ansmode.
The brand quickly grew popular among female shoppers in their 30s-50s for its broad range of designs in various sizes.

“In the early days, sizing was limited to a flat 55 or 66
(American size 6 or 8), which made it difficult for non-average sized
women to find their perfect fit,” said the 60-year-old, as she
credited the innovative start to the brand’s initial success.

Since then, Ahn has taken her well-matured brand to fashion shows and events worldwide, including Milan, Beijing and Hong Kong.

And after 32 years of running her business, Ahn now focuses much of her time on working with and for other women entrepreneurs.

“The working atmosphere for women has evolved tremendously over
the past decades,” said Ahn, who has been an active member of KWEA for
the past 29 years. “But there is, of course, still a lot of work left
to do.”

After being named the group’s fifth chairman in January, Ahn
actively pursued measures to upgrade management conditions for female
entrepreneurs.

She said many of the first generation women CEOs jumped into work
without knowing anything, as many of them had to take over the family
business after their husband’s death or other extenuating situations.

“These women need assistance and help in different ways so that
they don’t fall behind due to simple lack of knowledge,” Ahn said,
emphasizing that, many times, women CEOs juggle far more tasks than
male executives.

“I think multi-tasking comes natural after having to raise kids,
manage housework and run a business,” she said, jokingly adding that
women seem to do about three people’s worth of work in the office.

One of the main things she is working toward now is to have 5
percent of the government’s purchases bought from companies operated by
women.

“It might look unfair to some, but sales networks are one of the
toughest tasks for women. Even if they may have a great product, what
good is it if can’t be sold,” she said. “I know it won’t be easy to
pass such a bill, but I’m going to continuously push for it.”

While moving to make various changes, Ahn said young entrepreneur
hopefuls should have a clear vision and a business idea in mind before
starting anything.

“It might look fancy to run your own business, but there are many
obstacles and work ahead that are still tougher for women than men _
even in today’s modern day,” she said, noting that out of the
3,000,000 small and medium-sized businesses nationwide, 1,150,000 are
female-operated. “The number is growing, but the profits aren’t, so
that cuts the work out for the upcoming lady business leaders.”

jhan@koreatimes.co.kr

>BackTrack<

Leave a Reply

RSS Daily Search Trends