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Date: 2018/01/09

A Seminar by Steve Ahn from KAIST to NTU MBA Students

My Journey from an Engineer to an Entrepreneur
  • Prof. Jung-Yun Han receives the E. Sun Academic Award.

    Prof. Steve Ahn (front row, fourth from left), Prof. Ji-Ren Lee (front row, fifth from left), and GMBA students.
    Image:Global MBA Office, College of Management, NTU

The NTU Garage, an earliest-stage student startup incubator at NTU, invited Prof. Steve Ahn from Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) to give a speech to NTU Global MBA (GMBA) and other MBA students. Steve Ahn joined KAIST in 2014 as a professor and was also Director for Global Promotion at the Institute for Startup KAIST. He designed a new one-year academic program called K-School for Master of Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Steve mentioned that entrepreneurship mostly focuses on identifying opportunities for creating value for customers and ultimately yielding a profit for both founders and investors. He shared his experience at a masterclass speech, in which he began recounting his journey as a research staff member between September 1988 and November 1989, and as a senior engineer for Sharp Corp. in Japan from 1989 to 1992. From 1992 to the founding of Leadis Technology in 2000, Steve held several senior positions at Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. in Korea. While there, he served as the senior manager of process technology during which his team played a major role in the successful development of the first 256MBit DRAM in 1994. Steve received the Grand Prize of the Samsung Technical Achievement Award for his contribution to the next generation of DRAM. Also, he was Vice President and General Manager of the LCD Driver Division and the Flash Memory Division, both of which have eventually grown into multi-million-dollar businesses.

In the year of 2000, Leadis Technology was founded as a fabless semiconductor company based in Sunnyvale, California. Steven Ahn was the founder/CEO of Leadis Technology, and the company’s first core product was color display drivers for mobile devices. He explained the challenges he faced in his new position when Leadis Technology was listed on IPO in the Nasdaq stock market. Being a leader, Ahn was always committed to making quick and relevant decisions, as the window for opportunities to make more profits may close soon. In the stock market, share prices are always changing, and your decisions will determine the company’s performance in NASDAQ IPO, which will secure investors for you.

Steve Ahn sounds the most interesting man once you know how he spent his time after selling his stakes in Leadis Technology.

  • Climbed Mt. Fuji 20 times
  • Moved to Beijing to learn Chinese at Tsinghua University
  • Learned cooking in Spain and France
  • Spent a year as a winemaker in Melbourne, Australia
  • Built his own home on Jeju Island
  • Walked the Camino del Santiago in Spain
  • Returned to Europe to learn how to make his own furniture

After completing his Tsinghua-INSEAD EMBA and joining the business school as a professor, Steve shares his joy in following his dreams and how his attitude of quick learning and sharp execution in a changing environment has successfully transformed his career path from an engineer to an entrepreneur. As Director for Global Promotion at the Institute for Startup Companies and the founder of K-School, Steve likes to help students think outside the box with creative ideas by interacting with professors who are up-to-date practitioners. This allows students to build up their future, as well as creates a huge asset for any school that aspires to be the best in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship.

This article was originally featured in NTU e-Newsletter (Issue 1335), written collaboratively by the GMBA Office, Clair Wang (Chinese version), Chandan Kumar, and Philip Chang (English version).

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