IRF: Korea’s road sector is in many ways a “success story”; to what do you attribute this high level of performance?
Dr. Kyung-Soo Yoo: Firstly, the leadership of government is critical. In the early years of road system improvement and high standard highway construction, Korean government well realized the importance of road for the social and economic development of the country. This lead the government to develop good plans, repair law system, make bold investments, and implement without a hitch.
Secondly, good collaboration and role sharing between public and private sectors guaranteed the construction of high-quality roads in the early stage. To keep pace with the government, engineering and construction companies put in a great deal of effort to improve their business capacity and technological ability.
Thirdly, from the successful results in the early years, Korea gained self-confidence in improving and building its road system. Especially, well-prepared R&D and education systems have been producing excellent outputs.
Now, the country is proud of taking a spot in the international ranking of countries with the highest performing road system. by developing and introducing new technologies.
IRF: Your distinguished career has spanned many roles. What in your view is the hallmark of a successful career in our industry? What are your recommendations to a young professional beginning in this sector?
Dr. Yoo: Being an IRF member and receiving IRF Fellowship has had a dramatic impact on my career as a highway and traffic engineer. Under the support of the fellowship, I studied Traffic Engineering at the Graduate School of the Ohio State University, USA and earned a Ph.D. degree. This background made me possible to widen my horizon of the world and to connect myself with colleagues worldwide. Over 20 years work experience in the field of international exchange and cooperation at the Korea Expressway Corporation (formerly Korea Highway Corporation) pushed me to represent Korea in international organizations, such as REAAA and PIARC. I have really enjoyed to take a part to improve road transport industry and now, I am happy to be a highway engineer.
One word to a young professional: The road will be with you forever, and will constantly evolve. It will give you an opportunity of a nice work. Just keep your eyes, ears and mind open.
IRF: As an alumnus of the IRF Fellowship Program, and now an IRF Professional of the Year, how do you perceive the role and added value of organizations such as IRF?
Dr. Yoo: The most prominent role of organizations like IRF is making the world connected by creating a global network. Members can exchange problems facing, opinions and expertise for solutions, new ideas and developments, etc. in the network to realize better, safer, sustainable and smarter road systems. This can not be done effectively by any single government or private company.
I am sure IRF is going in the right direction. Through its activities such as advocacy services, training, fellowship program and various types of gatherings, the Federation provides people in the sectors concerned with opportunities and platforms for communication and exchange. IRF among its kind has the soundest background and resources in this respect.