[2021 Q CELLS CEO Charles Interview]
Question to Charles
Feb, 2021

Q CELLS CEO Charles Kim offers his frank and insightful answers to all sorts of questions
from around the world in this ‘Questions to Charles’ segment. 

A ‘Kingdom’ fan, who dreams of traveling around Europe with his wife…
Charles reminds us that a positive attitude and hard work can help us overcome difficulties.

Q CELLS conducted a pre-event to ‘Question to Charles’ for its executives and staff between the end of last year through early January 2021. A diverse set of questions, ranging from management and organizational culture to personal life, were submitted online from around the globe. Q CELLS CEO Charles expressed his excitement for the new interview format and answered every question posed, sometimes seriously and sometimes with a smile.  

 “Sustainable Growth” is the key. 

The interview began with a question about Charles’ priority as Q CELLS CEO. 
“As CEO, performance is what I consider the most important thing. Rather than short-term performance, I value sustainable growth. In other words, at the top of my priority list is identifying how Q CELLS can continue to achieve good results in the medium and long term, as well as in the short term.”
Climate Change is dead ahead for humankind. Charles remarked on Q CELLS’ Vision Statement when asked about the company’s ultimate goal. 
Q CELLS provides affordable and smart energy solutions’ is our vision statement. The biggest challenge humankind faces is climate change. Q CELLS aims to contribute to human development while offering affordable and smart solutions sustainably.”

 “This too shall pass.” Overcame the difficulties with positive attitude. 

Charles recalled the global financial crisis in 2008 as the harshest time he has experienced. Achieving a turnaround after enduring a heartbreaking and difficult restructuring period is the result of always having a positive attitude and striving to do one’s best.
“In 2007, we took over a U.S. company just before the financial crisis happened in 2008. I had never experienced such a crisis abroad before, so it was a very difficult time. Back then, about 38% of employees were laid off. Fortunately, we achieved a turnaround a year later in 2009, but that remains the most difficult memory.” 
Charles cited a saying: “This too shall pass” to a question about how he coped with the difficulties and added: “It is good to have a positive attitude. I have learned that ‘doing my job the best I can and not losing hope’ more often than not results in a good outcome.” 

 As COVID-19 accelerated digitalization, a priority now is restructuring the organization for greater agility. 

After the coronavirus swept the world in 2020, contactless has become the new normal in industries as well as in everyday life. CEO Charles, who had never before dabbled with e-commerce or online orders, went shopping online for the first time last year. 
“The coronavirus has distinctly accelerated digitalization in terms of management methods and life. For Q CELLS, we have implemented a conference call system for video conferences and , last year, began to really understand the true value of digital . We are a very complex organization, so, in 2021, I would like to learn how to restructure the organization for more agile and efficient management.”

Q CELLS members not only submitted questions about the company and management but also about the daily life of Charles. He shared his honest story as a breadwinner to his family and the father of a household as a man Charles not as CEO Charles.

 My dreams are becoming the CEO of a competitive company and traveling around Europe with my wife. 

The dream of who you want to be in the future keeps changing as you get older. Yet Charles has constantly pictured only one. 
“About my dreams: I talked with friends and teachers at school about becoming a doctor when I was in my teens and talked about becoming a professor when I was an undergraduate student. When I was in my 20s, I dreamed about becoming the CEO of a conglomerate. If you ask me what my dream is now, my dream is to “be the CEO of a global company that continues to grow with competitiveness.” To make my dream come true, Q CELLS needs to be outstanding.”
The CEO of a company is continuously challenged by presenting visions to executives and staff, managing the organizations and taking responsibility for business performance. It is natural to wish to escape from the daily routine and enjoy one’s free time. So I asked CEO Charles “how would you spend the time if a sabbatical month were given?” and he shared a specific plan with a smile. 
“I would really love a sabbatical month. My wife and I have already talked about traveling. If a sabbatical were given, we want to travel around Europe for about two months. When I lived in Europe, I visited several places but there still are many places I have not yet seen. We want to travel around Europe starting with Norway and North Europe through Denmark, Germany, France, and Spain, as well as southern France to Switzerland, Austria, and Italy for about two months.”

 ‘Work hard’ and ‘respect' others are the lessons I emphasize for my children. 

Charles picked the ‘wedding of his son’ as his most memorable moment of 2020. Through his son’s wedding, Charles the father, had the thought that ‘I have lived so long’, feeling overwhelming emotions that he never had experienced before.
CEO Charles has a daughter and a son. I asked him about what life lessons he wanted them to learn, and what he would do differently in terms of parenting if he could turn back the clock.  
“The first thing I often tell them is ‘work hard.’ The second is ‘respect others, then you will be respected’. I say this often because how well you establish your relationships with people determines whether you will be respected or not in the society we live in. If I were going back to the past, I would like them to read a lot of books. My favorite genres are Sci-Fi and documentaries. If I could turn back time, I would want them to read the classics, philosophy, or history books. Reading those kinds of books would help shape their view of the world. I think I didn’t do enough in that area, so I will strongly recommend that to my grandchildren, if I have any.”

 Zombies vs. Human, my choice is… 

There were witty questions from employees of the global offices. I asked him to choose either “become a zombie and live long” vs. “survive till the end as a human” if zombies suddenly appeared. Charles instantly chose to survive as a human until the end, adding:, “Becoming a zombie would mean that I am no longer myself. My identity doesn’t exist.” He added that, “I have watched all the episodes of Kingdom.”

As we wrapped up the interview, CEO Charles added that the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet over, so he asked all members to take good care of their health sincerely and said, “We are in a tough situation though, I hope that together we will transform Q CELLS into a total green energy solutions provider in 2021.”