A photo of Young Ham was captured during the division dinner.

Taking Global Strides: A Korean–American CEO’s Pursuit of Progress in the Philippines

Young H. | 

May 29, 2024

As I step off the plane, the hot, humid night air wraps around me like a warm blanket. Leaving behind Korea’s chilly air, I arrive in this vibrant city within a few short hours by air. The old taxi struggles to keep up with the demands of the road, its springs poking into my seat. The radio plays the same old pop songs I’ve been listening to for years, adding to the sense of déjà vu.

Despite the late hour, the life of Southeast Asia pulses on. Restaurants and shops remain open, emaciated workers sleep on street carts, motorcycles buzz by, and massive concrete overpasses loom overhead, sheltering the homeless. The city lights glitter in the distance, each one illuminating a different facet of life, from labor to leisure. When I finally reach my accommodation, I unpack, enjoy a cool beer, and drift off to sleep.

Morning greets me with warmth on my face. I pull back the curtain, letting in a flood of sunlight that brightens the room. The window feels as hot as a car windshield parked in the sun. Though I’m used to seasonal extremes, stepping into 35-degree heat by 9:00 a.m. requires a handkerchief, sunglasses, and a bit of mental preparation.

Commuting to work in Makati, the bustling financial hub of the Philippines, is a challenge even for locals. Early on, I adopted the bicycle as my mode of transport. The roads here are a frenzied dance of large vehicles claiming the center, motorcycles filling gaps, and bicycles and scooters skirting the edges. It seems chaotic, but from the outside, it’s like watching a flock of birds in perfect, fluid motion.

The employees of our Philippine branch usually start at 8:00 a.m., with some beginning their day an hour earlier to beat the traffic. At the office, I greet early arrivers and head to the pantry for coffee and a light breakfast. The pantry offers coconut juice, mangoes, simple bread from a local bakery, and warm eggs freshly boiled each morning by Ann, our administrative assistant who has been with the company for over 10 years.

Our branch’s work falls into two main categories: providing translation and interpretation services to local companies and organizations and supporting the headquarters. We proofread all English translations from the headquarters and lend support in marketing, development, and various other areas. Established in 2010, we’ve now reached our 14th year of operation.

Despite the longevity, our current state of “just barely supporting about 30 employees” feels modest. Perhaps grand ambitions have slowly settled into a stable reality over the years. Yet, this humble reality is no less valuable. Stability doesn’t preclude hard work; like ducks paddling furiously beneath the water’s surface to swim, our efforts remain steadfast and consistent.

Every day, I tackle a multitude of tasks, some of which include providing in-depth training and holding video conferences with the people from headquarters. The company is a garden where people flourish in their roles, nurturing their dreams. Ann, who boils eggs for us every morning, is building a house in the countryside and spends weekends with her five children. Genesis, a recent addition to the team, dreams of becoming the top UI/UX designer in the Philippines. Max and Alex, our diligent proofreaders, save consistently for their future travels abroad. Andie aspires to help the company grow and to climb as high as she can within it.

A celebratory photo of the division enjoying each others company.

My dream, encompassing theirs, is for Lexcode Philippines to thrive amid the AI revolution, providing a stable foundation for talented individuals to support themselves and their families. I hope for steady growth as much as a bold expansion. My personal wish—to enjoy a languid afternoon by the pool or a cool beer at a local pub in the evening—is simply an extension of that greater vision.

Taking Global Strides: A Korean–American CEO’s Pursuit of Progress in the Philippines

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