KS Choi: Igniting Innovation, Fostering Community Involvement & Forging a Lasting Legacy at Samsung Electronics North America
As we reflect on Samsung Electronics‘ 54-year heritage, we see a legacy that embodies the essence of innovation and co-prosperity.
Samsung’s passion for innovation has been the driving force behind our journey. Over the decades, we’ve pioneered countless technological advancements that have transformed the way people live, work and connect. From groundbreaking developments in consumer electronics to cutting-edge solutions in semiconductor technology, we’ve consistently pushed the boundaries of what’s possible.
This commitment to innovation is deeply intertwined with our belief in co-prosperity. We recognize that true progress cannot be achieved in isolation. It requires collaboration, partnership and a shared vision for a brighter tomorrow. Our innovations are not just about creating products. In my three years as Samsung Electronics North America President and CEO, I have experienced firsthand how they’re about creating opportunities, empowering individuals and driving positive change in society.
Our citizenship work is firmly rooted in our aspiration to empower future generations to achieve their full potential. We are devoted to pioneering positive social change, demonstrating our commitment through programs and acts of service in classrooms and communities. This unwavering dedication has been a guiding light in our journey.
Our Commitment to STEM Education
One of the key pillars of our citizenship vision is our dedication to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and empowering our future generation as leaders. As one of the largest technology companies in the world, we embrace the stewardship required to advance STEM to the forefront of education. We believe it is our duty, even our obligation, to contribute to STEM literacy and inspire more people to pursue STEM education and careers. In fact, Samsung Electronics North America has made STEM education a prominent part of our corporate agenda, actively investing in programs that educate and uplift the next generation of diverse thinkers, innovators, changemakers and activists.
In 2010, we took a meaningful role in boosting interest, proficiency and diversity in STEM with our flagship citizenship program, Samsung Solve for Tomorrow. Not only is it our most successful North American citizenship program, Solve for Tomorrow was first created in the U.S. by Samsung Electronics America and then adopted as the largest Samsung citizenship program around the world.
Emphasizing problem-based learning (PBL) and social impact entrepreneurship, this multi award-winning national competition challenges U.S. public school students to explore the role STEM can play in solving significant issues in their local communities. Personally, hosting the finals in D.C. last Spring was a highlight, as I got to interact with students and see first-hand the passion and creativity of young minds dedicated to solving real-world challenges through STEM. It excites me to know that STEM classrooms across the country look forward to and plan for the start of each competition year.
Beyond the annual competition itself, Solve for Tomorrow has branched out, becoming a community and giving rise to a series of offshoot programs that support stakeholders groups:
- Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Employee Mentors: Solve for Tomorrow engages and energizes Samsung’s North American workforce through a volunteer employee mentor program providing participating schools real-world insights from our incredible tech practitioners and through employee voting to pick a national Employee Choice award winner. The mentoring roles especially have been a great source of pride for our employees.
- Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Teacher Academy: Launched in 2019, this immersive professional development program enhances STEM teaching for educators who have participated in Samsung Solve for Tomorrow in the U.S. It equips them with skills, such as PBL, design-thinking, empathy development, environmental stewardship, and social impact entrepreneurship. Over the past five years, Teacher Academy has positively impacted more than 250 educators, who in turn inspired over 7,500 American STEM learners.
- Samsung Solve for Tomorrow Alumni Network: The Alumni Network is an online community for the curious-minded. The community consists of Solve for Tomorrow students, teachers other highly motivated hand raisers in North America that are sharing ideas on how to creatively engage students about STEM, foster critical thinking skills, and encourage collaboration through problem-based learning activities. We are proud to see these young students flourish in their academic pursuits, becoming STEM professionals, scholars, and active civic leaders in their communities.
Kicking off last year, we took our dedication to STEM to an even higher level by introducing a virtual educational program named Samsung Innovation Campus to offer Millennials and Gen Z women practical education in emerging technologies, specifically artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), enhancing their employment prospects and fostering much-needed gender diversity in tech. The 2022 and 2023 cohorts helped propel these women into promising career paths in these cutting-edge fields, making strides in addressing the industry’s pipeline problem.
Through these programs, we aim to create a future where STEM is accessible to all, regardless of background or circumstance. We believe that by doing so, we are contributing to a more equitable and prosperous society.
Our Dedication to Community Engagement & Employee Giving
But our commitment to co-prosperity extends beyond education. We also believe in making a tangible impact in the areas where we live and work. After all, we can only succeed when our communities also succeed. Through various community engagement and employee giving programs, we empower our employees to be active proponents of our mission.
Samsung Gives is our marquee employee service initiative, which is designed to provide support for and show solidarity with local communities through service. Our primary focus areas revolve around STEM education, as well as environmental sustainability. I find it to be incredibly meaningful to witness our employees coming together to support our companywide Day of Service, as well making donations and leveraging their skills to help such nonprofits as Boys & Girls Clubs of America, DonorsChoose, Junior Achievement and United Way in the U.S. and Autism Speaks Canada and SickKids in Canada accelerate their missions. And for Samsung’s part, we’ve exemplified our commitment by making significant financial and technology donations to these nonprofits, further enriching their crucial work in the community.
For example, in the U.S., Samsung has actively supported 1,300 classroom campaigns with DonorsChoose, making a substantial impact on the learning environments of students across the nation. In Canada, Samsung has donated over 5,000 tablets to families, schools and autism service providers to support their educational pursuits, through our partnership with Autism Speaks Canada. And we’ve pledged a $1 million commitment to SickKids, Canada’s foremost research-intensive hospital and the largest center dedicated to enhancing children’s health in the country.
What’s more, our Samsung Gives initiatives, such as the Day of Service, Intern Day of Service, Volunteer Time Off and Employee Match Program, really empower our employees to make a difference and support causes close to their hearts. The cumulative matching contribution by employees and our company since its inception has reached an impressive $6 million.
Of note, North America remains the only region worldwide that has successfully implemented a scaled companywide Day of Service – a tradition we’ve upheld for the past 13 years. We branch out from coast to coast to support various charities during business hours. This model sets a noteworthy example for corporate giving worldwide. In fact, I personally participated in sandwich making for Oasis, a nonprofit in Paterson, New Jersey, for children in afterschool care programs during our last Day of Service earlier this month. I learned that the sandwiches served a dual purpose. For some students, they were just an afternoon snack. For others, they were a take-home dinner or even a weekend meal.
We also work closely with our ERGs – Unidos, PRIDE, Galaxy of Black Professionals, Next Generation Leaders, Veterans Community, Women+ in Samsung Electronics – to strengthen our community outreach programs by integrating diverse community partners into our Samsung Gives employee volunteerism campaigns, such as The Resource Center, Team Rubicon and Year Up. This ERG-led inclusive volunteerism approach fosters deeper connections and a shared sense of purpose.
In closing, I believe our heritage of innovation, citizenship and community engagement is a testament to our unwavering commitment to co-prosperity. It’s a legacy that continues to drive us forward as we strive to create a brighter, more inclusive and sustainable future for all. As we look ahead to the next 55 years and beyond, Samsung remains steadfast in our dedication to empowering individuals, fostering positive change and making a meaningful difference in the world. Together, we can build a future where co-prosperity is not just a value, but a reality for all!