Born in Seoul, South Korea, Derek Uhm is a Senior Associate on the G3 Partners team. He attended high school in Pennsylvania before joining the big leagues at NYU’s Leonard Stern School of Business. Despite notable job experiences under his belt, such as Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Derek’s humble demeanor shines through his passionate and rewarding work at G3 Partners. We sat down with him on a sunny *read: humid* afternoon to learn more.
What’s your role at G3 and when did you join?
I joined in October 2016, so 8 months ago. Right now, my time is split between client management and writing. For client management, I meet with clients face to face in order to really understand what they need and what we can do for them, then I liaise with clients throughout the actual project to make sure everything goes smoothly. As for writing, I do a lot of it: marketing messages, press releases, media kit, and website copies, just to name a few.
Though it’s a lot, writing is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had at G3. At NYU and my previous job, everything was boring; very cut and dry. I used to have analysis paralysis! But, since joining G3, I’ve discovered how writing organizes my thoughts. Not only during work, but even in my free time, I’m writing. Right now, I’m working on a psychological thriller film script. In fact, I even customized my keyboard so that I enjoy the whole experience.
What motivated you to join G3?
I was always interested in starting my own business. I really appreciate the passion and go-getter attitudes of entrepreneurs whereas investment bankers and consultants are… Well… not who I want to be. I sold my camera, projector, PS4, everything after graduation to found my own startup. But after six months, I realized it was too much for one person and that I needed to learn a lot more on how to build and grow a successful startup. So, of course the best place to learn would be a marketing agency for startups, where you experience a diverse range of startup clients. G3 Partners really satisfies my needs, as it not only helps startups but is also a startup itself.
After your first startup venture, you still want another one?
Definitely! Startups are the real agents of change in the world right now. Large corporations had their time 20 or 30 years ago, but the speed of change is too fast now; large corporations can’t keep up. Startups are the ones that really leave their mark on the world. I also want to impact society and the world through my work.
It feels like most startups are just flashy or for fun…
One thing I want startups to understand is that it always comes down to what problem they are solving. Like Theodore Levitt said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole.” A lot of startups are founded by engineers and driven by tech. So naturally, they create products using sophisticated technology. But, by the time they emerge from their caves, they discover that no one buys the product cause no one needs it. They have to pivot; the focus should always be on solving the customer’s problem.
Startups have it rough! So, it’s not just about vision?
I think it’s fine for anyone, even students right out of college, to pursue their vision. But for sure, experience is required. The team is vital to the success of a startup; a vision alone isn’t enough. I suggest finding a co-founder or hiring someone that has experience. On that note, it’s also important for startups to find people with totally different skillsets. One problem I’ve seen with startups is that the team’s just a group of friends. It can be really great, but it also means that (typically) they’ll agree on everything; this is dangerous for startups. You need the cancelling out effect so that ideas can be tested better.
Is that also your personal approach to projects?
Totally. I want to work with a diverse group of thinkers. Since my ideal occupation is being a movie director, I need to be able to work in a similar environment. Plus, I’m not a very showy person; I hold a lot of thoughts inside. So G3’s culture of open communication and diverse backgrounds really help me express and test my ideas. That ultimately produces the best results for our clients.
Then, in working at G3 Partners…
My marketing and writing skills are trained daily! Since everything’s online now and media marketing is shifting to videos, I’m able to pursue my passion while gaining valuable work experience. That’s one of the great things about G3 culture: if you’re passionate and interested in a specific project, you get to channel that into your work. Though I’m not professionally trained in videography or cinematography, I get projects that allow me to produce short videos. I believe that film sends messages that words simply cannot express. Did you know Ridley Scott actually started as a commercial film director?
You must share some of your work!
My passion is in film directing; in undergrad, one of my short films was showcased at the Tisch Open Arts Festival. Right now, I’m trying to start my own stop-motion YouTube channel. I build a lot with Legos, such as filming sets. Hopefully, I’ll start producing content sooner rather than later. But, I’m scared to start. I think any artistic project is like that, which is in part why, again, I admire entrepreneurs. I’ll definitely share my craft when it’s ready.
Looking forward to it! To close, how about a one-sentence about you?
A marketer, writer, and die-hard Tarantino fan.