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Heavy industries

Hyundai Heavy to rebuild talent pool for tech-driven biz restructuring

The conglomerate to recruit more than 50% of its new R&D experts outside the marine and mechanical disciplines

By Oct 07, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Hyundai Heavy's R&D center to be built by 2022 in Pangyo, known as Korea's Silicon Valley.
Hyundai Heavy's R&D center to be built by 2022 in Pangyo, known as Korea's Silicon Valley.

Hyundai Heavy Industries Group will deploy more than half of its new hires of R&D in future growth areas such as hydrogen, self-driving vessels, as well as carbon capture and storage (CCS).

According to the industry on Oct. 7, the group’s intermediate holding company Korea Shipbuilding & Offshore Engineering Co. (KSOE) is currently recruiting masters and doctoral level professionals in 42 business functions. More than half of these functions are future growth sectors including hydrogen, ammonia-based energy systems, CCS, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI).

Such a move is unprecedented in the South Korean heavy industries sector, especially for the Hyundai Heavy Industries Group. KSOE’s new recruits have traditionally been marine engineering or mechanical engineering graduates, who made up more than 80% of the company’s R&D department.

The wind of change started to blow earlier this year when the demand for greener ships and tech-based vessels started to thrive around the world. Naturally, KSOE during the first half of this year recruited nearly 40% out of about 60 new R&D recruits outside the academic disciplines of marine and mechanical engineering.

KSOE added that this year’s new joiners hold graduate degrees in electrical engineering, chemical engineering and energy-related disciplines. Hyundai Heavy added that more than 50% of the group’s R&D talent pool will be made up of graduate degree holders other than the traditional disciplines of marine and mechanical engineering.

The group’s oil refining unit, Hyundai Oilbank is also following suit. The company said that it will hire new engineering professionals in large numbers to raise the number of its R&D professionals from the current 60 to 160. The company is currently recruiting talents in secondary battery materials, bioplastics, CCS and hydrogen, in addition to its traditional petrochemical functions.

Market analysts note that the group-wide restructuring of talents roots from the demand hike for new types of ships by the global clients. An example is the new shipbuilding order it landed from Maersk in August. Denmark’s Maersk ordered 1.65 trillion won ($1.39 billion) worth of methanol-powered ships from Hyundai Heavy. While such a big purchase is good news for the Korean shipbuilder, it also means that more traditional types have become less popular.

Others highlight that such a dramatic shift in talent recruiting was foreseen when the group announced in March this year that it will create a new value chain in the industry involving hydrogen and self-driving technologies.

“Now it’s not only important to make further advancements in existing technologies but also crucial to dig into new areas with R&D at the core. Recruiting talents with new backgrounds will be the starting point of our group-wide transformation,” said a Hyundai Heavy Industry Group official.

Write to Jung-hwan Hwang at

Daniel Cho edited this article.

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