※ The article was written on July 4th, 2019
Everyone has had difficult, struggling times while working at a company. What if there was a mentor to provide you with warm encouragement, support, and wisdom to help guide you through the problem?
Start-ups at Smilegate’s Incubation Center, “Orange Farm”, can get help anytime they need. Orange Farm provides unique, special, and professional mentoring regardless of the specific field.
The mentor group consists of working-level experts from each field at Smilegate for tenant companies. Mentoring is divided into management support, business, and development. Management support is categorized into legal, financial, PR/IP, HR/labor, and the business sector is divided into game business, marketing, polishing, service strategy, and operation. The development sector is divided into infrastructure development and security. Tenant companies can apply for mentoring in desired fields and receive one-on-one mentoring every month. They can also receive overall inspections on performance and business direction at the quarterly review day event.
Orange Farm established the “Orange Farm Mentor Award" to express gratitude towards mentors who help with the growth and development of tenant companies. They selected Kim, Hyoung June, head of labor management cooperation office, as the first winner. Kim, Hyoung June provides mentoring for start-ups on matters such as how to draw up employment contracts. I met with the first winner of the Smilegate Orange Farm Mentor Award and interviewed his thoughts on work and mentoring.
[Interview] Smilegate Holdings labor management cooperation office, Director Kim, Hyoung June
<Smilegate Holdings labor management cooperation office, Director Kim, Hyoung June>
Q. Please introduce yourself.
I am Director Kim, Hyoung June of Smilegate Holdings labor management cooperation office. I am currently in charge of labor support.
Q. How did you become a certified labor attorney?
I was in charge of HR affairs at my first job. I felt the need to study labor law to perform my job efficiently. I needed to find my own field of expertise while working at a company, so I studied for the labor attorney license.
Q. It must have been hard to balance work and study.
I prepared for the first part of the examination while working at the company and prepared for the second exam after quitting the company. In the year I quit my job, I failed the exam once and walked along Bukhan mountain’s Dulle-gil course to soothe my mind. After I got my license the following year, I worked at a labor company for about 2 years. In total, it took me about 3 years.
Q. Why did you join Smilegate?
I joined the company because I wanted to experience the HR, atmosphere, and culture of an IT company. I think of experiences as assets.
Q. What kind of work do you usually do?
Immediately after joining the company, I was in charge of supporting HR affairs in conjunction with the HR department of affiliated companies. I also dealt with establishing HR guidelines and labor management. Currently, I mainly work on reviewing working hours, wages, operating standards, and labor affairs.
Q. What is a characteristic of HR for an IT company like Smilegate?
This line of work is hard in the IT industry since its organizational culture is free and has a rather strong personality. Manufacturing and traditional large corporations have long-established rules and regulations that they operate upon, but the IT industry is subject to many changes and exceptions due to the nature of the industry. This is the difference between managing production facilities and operating companies where people are the producers. In that respect, HR for IT companies is closer to the notion of support. There are many exceptional cases and the focus on employee care is very strong.
Q. Tell us about Smilegate’s policy for work-life balance.
Smilegate introduced selective working hours, July of last year. The total working hours system allows staff to choose their hours before and after the intensive working hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. We operate based on the 52-hour workweek system for workplaces with more than 300 employees and I am proud that the responses have been positive.
Q. Is there a necessary qualification for HR/labor work?
Due to the nature of the work, it is very important to be considerate of others and listen to them carefully. Also, you have to keep a positive mind because things might not go so well, especially when you are dealing with people. I think it’s better to have positivity, consideration, and a flexible attitude rather than pursuing perfection.
<Smilegate CRO Yang, Dong Ki awarding a plaque of appreciation to Director Kim, Hyoung June>
Q. You were selected as the first winner of the Orange Farm Mentor Award. How do you feel?
I'm surprised and embarrassed to receive the award. After receiving the mentoring request, I thought to myself “Will I be able to mentor start-ups well?”. While mentoring, I was able to learn and grow. Also, I am very proud that the start-ups I mentored are making progress. I will continue to work hard as an Orange Farm mentor.
Q. I heard that you are working as a HR/labor mentor. How long have you been an Orange Farm mentor?
I have been a mentor for a year and a half. I usually mentor once a month for Orange Farm tenant companies. I wish I could do more, but I have to focus on my main job as well. (chuckle) It’s hard to set aside a lot of time so I have assigned a day to mentor on HR/labor issues.
Q. How did you become a part of mentoring?
Start-up businesses are often curious about HR and labor as their workforce increases. Professional knowledge is usually difficult to access so they rely on inaccurate information on the Internet. I participated in mentoring to provide accurate information to these start-ups.
Q. What does the mentoring process look like?
I don’t think its mentoring if you only answer the questions you are asked. Rather than simply delivering legal knowledge, I try to provide solutions. Especially, I try to talk about the big picture with the company’s industry, size, and members in mind. You can expect certain problems to occur in certain situations and prepare for it in advance. This is why it takes me a long time to mentor.Also, we give lectures. We had a lecture on changes in regulation on the employment subsidy system which most start-ups are interested in, and the response was very good.
This is an area which requires me to study as well. Constant updates are needed in the case of subsidies because of its frequent changes. Many start-ups already receiving subsidies ask whether they can receive duplicate benefits. I relay the inquiry to the related centers or institutes and provide them answers.
<The 21st Smilegate Orange Farm review day on June 20th>
Q. What is a commonly asked question by the tenant companies?
Start-ups usually start as a group of friends, as Co-CEOs, then hire employees once their business has taken off. They start to worry about employment contracts, working hours, and vacation days after the company has more than 5 employees. Once it has 10 to 30 employees, the number of necessary policies in place starts to increase.
There are many similar yet different inquiries. Basic employment contracts, working hours, vacations, breaks, and termination are common topics but differ in detail because of the nature of different industries. For example, companies who service applications for real estate introduction have unique working relationships with real estate agents, and companies that service delivery applications have various requests regarding accident-related issues of deliverymen.
Q. Do you have any interesting episodes from mentoring?
The most memorable episode was when I approached a team first, to provide mentoring. When mentoring tenants, there are many inquiries about mandatory education such as sexual harassment prevention. Sexual harassment prevention education is mandatory even for businesses with less than 10 employees, so I wanted to help. I asked Orange Farm to become a lecturer in sexual harassment prevention education at the Gender Equality Education Promotion Agency under the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.
It was very hot in August, but I successfully visited the Seocho, Sinchon, and Busan centers for lectures. It was very rewarding to educate the participants. It is usually difficult for small companies to invite instructors for lectures, so I think it was very helpful for most of the participating companies.
<Director Kim, Hyoung June mentoring Orange Farm tenant companies>
Q. Is this your first-time mentoring?
I was more of an advisor at my last company, so it is my first time as a mentor. Nevertheless, it is very rewarding. In addition, I have worked as a labor committee member for three years at the Seoul Global Center to advise foreign workers.
Q. What is the reason you mentor?
Mentoring helps to keep me grounded. Also, it helps to expand my work knowledge as I look up related laws, cases, and policies. As I continue to mentor, I have been able to construct patterns and help people more efficiently through experience.
Mentoring start-ups at Orange Farm revitalizes my passion and courage. Most representatives of start-ups are younger than I am and watching them serves as motivation.
Q. Is there a company that has grown as a result of mentoring?
I believe issues to be solved when I no longer receive contact from companies in the case of labor affairs. I mentored a company called YOLO and I am glad to hear that they are moving into an independent office.
Q. Is there something attractive about labor work?
I feel good while I work. In a way, I’m helping those in need, mediating conflicts, reaching agreements, and settling disputes helping involved parties as well as society. I am also able to contribute as a sexual harassment prevention education instructor and a committee member of the Global Center.
<Director Kim, Hyoung June holding the Orange Farm Mentor Award plaque>
Q. Do you have anything else you want to say?
To be honest, I'm thankful and shy for receiving this award. After joining Smilegate, I was impressed that Orange Farm had pure intentions to foster start-ups. I think it's noteworthy that they are supporting start-ups without asking for anything in return. As a member of Smilegate, I am glad to be able to participate in giving back to society, and grateful to have a role in mentoring.
Orange Farm is the largest youth start-up support center in the private sector. Since its establishment in April 2014, it has provided the highest level of systematic support. In addition to space support, they provide support for mentoring, long-term investment opportunities, and overseas expansion. Passion is the most important factor to be a part of Orange Farm. Start-up CEOs have to go through face-to-face screening to portray their sincere passion and work ethic to be a part of Orange Farm.