Don't Set Your Limits, You Can Become Anything
From a college entrepreneur to YouTube executive
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Have you ever wondered what kind of people work at Google and YouTube? For the amount of workload and the complexity of the technology involved, the workers must be geniuses, right? This week, News H had an opportunity to meet one of the geniuses, a proud alumnus of Hanyang, Jeon Joon-hee (Mathematics, ’95).
Work, work and more work!
Jeon’s life so far has been a full-time, ceaseless factory. Starting his career with his college friends by developing software called 21st Century Word Processor, they founded a company named ESTsoft in 1991. At that time, there were no programs usng iKorean text that enabled people to open multiple documents at once or change the size of the fonts. To make matters worse, the length of a document was limited. “With the invention of the word processor, people started to switch from writing bothersome work such as papers for a class by hand to typing them,” mentioned Jeon. With the increasing demand for technology and the unexplored trait of the industry, Jeon detected a possibility.
However, the barrier for the latecomer was higher than expected. “After pouring our lives into the poject for about a year and a half, we came up with version 1.8, right around the time when Hangul 2.0 was released,” reminisced Jeon with a bitter smile. Hangul emerged in the word processor market five years earlier than Jeon’s 21st Century Word Processor, and was also developed by college students. Jeon was not let down by the market barrier. He and his friend worked harder to encompass as many features as Hangul had and to develop original ideas as well. Also, they targeted a specific customer of computer academies who could not afford the expensive license of Hangul. ESTsoft Corporation still persists in the market with their leading product of ALZip, and Jeon still consults for the company with affection.
To the unknown land of America
Jeon is now working as an Engineering Director for YouTube TV, in charge of the whole project team. Surprisingly enough, he was not fluent in English nor had he planned to get a job in the states from the beginning. Jeon left Seoul to expand his online game business that he started with his friend after his second job at Hanmeoft Corp, with a million-pound investment from a Korean-British official. With the hope of succeeding in the birthplace of online gaming, Jeon found out that the investor had passed away due to a heart attack. “I called my wife and she told me not to come back,” he chuckled.
Getting a job in a foreign land where you do not speak their language well was challenging. It was especially difficult for Jeon who had never written a resume nor gone to a job interview. “After some trial and error, I was able to understand and forecast the interview questions. I put down all the possible questions, memorized them to the bones, and then the interviews suddenly felt so easy,” smiled Jeon. The first job he had in the U.S. unfortunately was acquired by a larger company soon, with the economic recession led by the bursting of the dot com bubble. The second job was interesting but the task was somewhat repetitive. That is when he was offered a position at Google. “I wanted to do something fun and innovative,” said Jeon.
Setting the bar high
When asked what enabled him to race so hard and so far, Jeon smiled and replied, “I don’t set my limits. I believe I can do or become anything.” Listening to his stories, Jeon’s life has had its ups and downs. He encountered a huge barrier with his first project, was devastated by the death of his investor, and had his company subjected to a hostile acquisition, but after all these setbacks he was able to dust off, stand up, and start running again because he had faith in what he could become. “I believe that who you are now is the collection of thoughts you had in the past,” said Jeon, with a bright, warm smile.
Kim So-yun firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Kang Cho-hyun
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