Dr. Tae Han Kim has been president and CEO of Samsung Biologics since Samsung diversified into the pharmaceutical industry in 2011. Prior to his role at Samsung Biologics, Dr. Kim was the executive vice president of Samsung Electronics. He was responsible for leading the New Business Team and Bio Business Team. He first became head of the Samsung General Chemical department in 1995 and has been with Samsung for nearly 40 years.
He completed his education at the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned both his master’s degree (1986) and doctoral degree (1988) in chemical engineering. Dr. Kim is an expert in strategy and leadership with a strong background in the sciences. His longtime career with Samsung has allowed him to become an expert in electronics, textiles, and petrochemicals.
Dr. Kim is responsible for helping Samsung Biologics become a leading contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) in less than 10 years. As Samsung Biologics CEO, his drive and insight led to creating the largest number of biosimilar products approved by the FDA or EMA. As a skilled team leader, he selected and hired top talent to support the lofty Samsung CDMO goals. His work at Samsung has resulted in the largest capacity single-site facility in the industry.
With a personal drive for quality and professional distinction, his work ethic is second to none. Understanding the product mechanics and talent dynamics allows him to bridge the gap between both aspects of the company for exceptional success. Dr. Kim continues to push forward Samsung’s legacy with the kind of thought leadership required to lead a top CDMO. His contributions continue to improve the biopharmaceutical industry as a whole.
How did you get started in this business? What inspired you?
I have always been interested in biologics. However, in 2011, I obtained approval from the Samsung Group, where I was currently working, to start Samsung Biologics as a new growth engine, building upon the success of Samsung’s engineering, construction, and clean room operations.
How do you make money?
Samsung Biologics produces monoclonal and recombinant drug substance and drug products, as well as integrated services including cell line generation, process development, analytical services, clinical and commercial bulk cGMP manufacturing, and fill finish services.
How did you get your first customer?
Our association with the Samsung Group helped enormously in getting our first customers. Today, we do business with big pharma companies such as Roche, BMS, and UCB and emerging pharma companies like TaiMed, Aprinoia, and Vir Biotechnology.
We are the fastest-growing company in the CDMO industry, and there is still very high growth momentum with our continued client-centric innovations. We went from 30 employees in 2011 to more than 3,000 in 2000. Managing our growth has been more of a challenge than finding customers.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
We rely on high-quality products at competitive costs, delivered on time.
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape for our company, just as it has for most others. We’ve been operating under our Business Continuity Plan to ensure a stable supply chain and operations for uninterrupted services for our clients. Internally, our COVID-19 response team has been closely managing our employee health and safety around the clock. Keeping abreast of changes in the world regarding the pandemic and being able to pivot as they develop has been a challenge, but it’s one that we are meeting successfully so far.
What do you think makes you successful?
Samsung Biologics has been successful, I believe, because of that ability to pivot, whether it’s reacting to the pandemic challenges or finding new ways to outsource our operations as our business has expanded.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
Creating Samsung Biologics and getting approval for our concept from the Samsung Group was very rewarding. I selected and focused on a very specific business model, where I could be more competitive with my best efforts.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
The biopharma industry fascinates me as much today as it did when I first started in the business, in large part because of its ability to positively impact the lives of millions of individuals. I’m very excited about anticipated developments in creating a drug for Alzheimer’s disease.
What business books have inspired you?
“The Third Wave” by Alvin Toffler. Though it’s not a business book, it influenced my viewpoints from my college days forward. I would also recommend “Homodeus” by Yuval Harari.
What is a recent purchase that’s helped with your business?
Though not a single purchase, our business has benefited greatly from outsourcing over the past year. Due to the high demand to treat illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease and novel viruses like COVID-19, the need for large-scale manufacturing remains high. Outsourcing some of our operations has allowed us to meet this demand.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self that it’s the actions that come after a decision that are the most important, such as taking responsibility and moving forward. These are what really change the future, rather than the decision itself.