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Michelin, Korea
Mr. Isaac Ortega, executive commercial director of Michelin Korea, is one of the youngest CEOs in Korea.

He normally wakes up in the wee hours to go to work and start his daily routines at 7:30 a.m.

He rides his super motorbike, Harley Davison’s Dyna Super Glide, from home to work. On weekends he walks his five-year-old German shepherd on parks near Han River.

At age 38, Mr. Ortega is in charge of Korean branch of world’s largest tire manufacturer. He was only 24 years of age when he started working for Michelin.

Q1: First of all, on behalf of all The Seoul Times staff, I’d like to congratulate you on your inauguration as Executive Commercial Director. Tell us briefly about your company and your role within Michelin Korea.

Michelin is the number one tire manufacture in the world, our mission is to make a sustainable contribution to the progress of the mobility of goods and people by constantly enhancing freedom of movement, safety, efficiency and pleasure when on the move. My role is to make it happen in Korea

Q2: You seem to have lots of business experience working some 30 different countries. Is this your first experience to work in Korea? Is there any special reason you chose Michelin, Korea?

I had the opportunity to work with the Korean team in the past when I was in charge of Asia Pacific Sales Development. However, it is the first time that I am based in Korea.

I have chosen to work in Korea because it is a unique and very challenging market with the major OEM’s and global competitors.
Q3: Compared with other tire companies what is your overall competitive edge over your rivals? What makes your products so special or different from others?

Michelin was created in 1889 so we are a company with more than 120 years experience and during this time our constant ambition is to offer our customers the best quality of products and services through continuous innovation. What makes MICHELIN unique is the ability to develop and produce tires with outstanding overall performances. Indeed, MICHELIN tires are a blend of high performance, combining with no sacrifice the fundamental benefits of every MICHELIN tyre: safety, longevity and energy efficiency.

Q4: I bet you have a variety of tire products. How many kinds of tires do you produce? Can you name some of the most popular ones in local Korean market?

We produce tires for passenger cars, SUVs and light trucks, trucks, buses, earthmovers, airplanes, 2 wheels, metro and agriculture.
For passenger car, our MICHELIN Pilot Sport tire has became the reference in the Korean market for those who are looking for driving pleasure and security in both wet and dry conditions.

In Truck and bus, our MICHELIN Energy tires are strongly recognized by the Korean fleets to reduce operating cost, fuel consumption and vehicle gas emission.

Q5: Some say your products are expensive. But as I am aware, less costly one “Harmony” was released last year. What were the market responses? How successful is it?

MICHELIN Harmony tire has been a great success in Korea due to the great performances especially in mileage and comfort. The whole Michelin team is proud because it is a very good example of how Michelin provides the best value in the market.

We believe that Michelin is the best solution even with economic view point considering its safety performance, longevity, and fuel efficiency which lower the total cost of ownership. So definitively, we can say that Michelin offers the best quality products at the best price.

Q6: I know yours is a huge global company. Tell us some of the most important countries in terms of market share. How important South Korea is to your company?

Today our position in Europe and USA in terms of market share is very good. Fast-growing countries like China, India or Russia are key priorities for Michelin Group.

However, Korea remains a strategic market for Michelin due to the strong Korean cars and tires manufacturers. Besides, the good image of Michelin brand, the high quality of our tires as well as the professionalism of our dealer network allow us to have strong ambitions in this market.

Q7: You have served so far in key overseas post including Beijing and Singapore. And I guess that you were quite successful in previous work. What are the secrets of your success?

First of all, I have always worked with very motivated and dynamic teams in Asia. It has been key in such fast-growing markets. The great reactivity in Asia as well as my previous experience in Europe have made possible to implement adapted strategies and sustain the growth of Michelin brand.

Q8: When did you come to Korea? So far how have you been enjoying working and living in Seoul? Have you committed any cultural faux pas yet?

I arrived in Korea in august 2009 and it has been an amazing personal and professional experience so far.

My family and I are still discovering the great Korean culture but people have been so nice with us and reserved us such a warm welcome, that we feel like at home living in Seoul.

Q9: How different is Seoul compared with Beijing and Singapore? What are some of the unique culture of Korea? Do you like Korean food?

China, Singapore and Korea are completely different. Korean is really interesting for the Bbalibbali culture which makes the country one of the most fast-developing & changing market in the world.
I really like Korean food specially Bulgogi, Samgyupsal & Kimchi. Very closed to my office I can find the best noodle & meat restaurant in Seoul!

Q10: What are your hobbies? How do you spend your leisure time in Korea?

I have a motorbike and I love to ride away through the mountains and discover this beautiful country, their people and the culture.
I have a dog as well, a German shepherd named Vaxo. We have a lot of fun together every weekend in some of the many great parks in Seoul.






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