She drives the brilliant black TT Coupe 3.2 quattro, a sports car from Audi, plays golf regularly, and even flies to Europe every month. Lee Janet Yon-kyung (’93, Social Sciences), the head of Marketing Communications at Audi Korea, is a woman living the dream of her life. Lee has been receiving lots of media attention this year not because of her stunning appearances but rather because of her astonishing achievements at Audi. Lee has marked history by being the youngest individual inaugurated as an executive director at Audi Korea. She sat down with the Ewha Voice to share her life long journey.
“During my years at Ewha, I was always eager to experience the real world,” said Lee. “I just wasn’t the type of a person who would sit down in front of a desk and study for hours,” said Lee. Rather than following the footsteps of others, she threw herself into the real world.
“At a young age, I always dreamt of becoming a news reporter. During my sophomore year, I was an intern at a TV show which was directed by our very own professor, Joo Chul-Hwan, who is now the president of the Open Broadcasting Station. I worked both as a program director and reporter. I would normally go around college campuses and interview and interact with students. It was a great opportunity to meet lots of new people,” said Lee.
However, after working for a year, Lee realized such work was not her ultimate ambition and she moved on in search for her new dream.
“It was during my senior year when I got interested in marketing after reading a book written by Lee Jo-an,” said Lee. “After graduating from Ewha, I worked at several different companies before laying my feet at Audi. After working few years in the marketing industry, I knew this was what I wanted to do.”
Along with realizing what she was talented at, she also realized what it was like to live and work as a woman in Korea. Simply put, the work force was a Siberia for women.
“I faced many obstacles working as a woman. Even though I worked in foreign companies, all of my bosses were Korean. There were times when I was left out during meals, and at times I could not even get promoted since I was a woman,” said Lee. “It may sound absurd and hard to imagine how it was back then but that was the reality and the norm,” said Lee.
Audi was no exception. “Our dealers in Korea are all Koreans, of course most of them are male. Men in the car industry are very conservative. When one of our dealers saw me for the first time, he refused to work with me since I was young and a female,” said Lee. The dealer could not understand how a woman would be suitable in this industry. “For two to three years I supported him a lot, gave him helpful advice and supported him with more care. This paid off,” said Lee.
“During a golf tournament carried out by Audi, the dealer had to give a speech and in the middle of his speech he mentioned my name and thanked me in front of all the people. It’s hard to explain in words how I felt at that time. I got very emotional,” said Lee.
The obstacles were what motivated her to move forward and work harder.
“The best advice I can give out to people is that, don’t be afraid to go for what you believe in. Trust yourself and move forward. Be insanely crazy about one thing during your twenties to truly find what you really want,” said Lee.
Lee is young, energetic, charming, and most of all, a professional.