CityNet is pleased to introduce you to a new “CityNet Interview Series: Program Assistants (PAs) Interview You”. This interview series spotlight our remarkable and dedicated international staff members contributing to city-to-city cooperation leading to sustainable development all over the world. In this series, two of our bright and curious program assistants (PAs), Seoyoung Lee and Ara Ko, become interviewers and interview the staff of CityNet about their work and life stories concluding with one special question. Through this series, we hope to reach out to our members and a wider global audience to share about CityNet’s talents and numerous global initiatives for creating a better world while inviting others to know more about CityNet’s work and join our Network of Cities.
Program Assistants (PAs) Interview You #1 Meeting the CEO of CityNet
Our honored first interviewee is CityNet’s CEO, Jeong-kee Kim. His journey encompassed roles as a lawyer, consul general, professor, university president, and even a renowned publisher and English lecturer at a top university in Korea.
CEO’s Tasks in CityNet
PA (Program Assistant): Hi. Welcome to the PAs Interview you. Please introduce your job and tasks in CityNet. What does the CityNet CEO do?
CEO: As the CEO of CityNet, I host lots of events such as workshops and congresses. We organized a PPP workshop in May and successfully held the 8th Congress and ExCom Meeting last September. Also representing CityNet, I actively participate in various important events including the World Cities Summit and the upcoming Smart City Expo World Congress will be held in Barcelona. Most importantly, I secured a specific budget from the Seoul Metropolitan Government and actively promoted CityNet projects. Lastly, I always make an effort to provide encouragement and support to our staff, valuing their hard work and dedication.
Working with Multicultural staff
PA: Yes. Our staff has diverse cultural backgrounds. We have an American, Chinese, Filipino, Kazakhstani, and Korean staffs.
CEO: I studied and worked as a lawyer in the United States, and taught university students as a professor in Korea and China. So, I am familiar with diverse cultures. Also, I always encourage our staff to take the lead and support them which enables our collaboration into an incredibly enjoyable work experience.
Impression of CityNet
PA: How has your initial impression of CityNet differed from your current perception?
CEO: Before joining CityNet, I must admit I was quite unfamiliar with its operations. However, shortly after assuming office on 21 March last year, I found myself deeply involved in the Kuala Lumpur World Congress held in September. The task of organizing the congress was shared between the Secretary-General and myself. Yet, a day prior to the event, the Secretary-General was unfortunately infected with COVID-19, which meant that I had to step in and fulfill his responsibilities as well. With the collaborative efforts of our officers, we managed to have a successful congress. The successful execution of this event was possible with the dedicated CityNet officers and I view them as my strongest allies and greatest supporters.
Next Step for CityNet
PA: What is your future goal for CityNet?
CEO: CityNet Secretariat stands as a beacon of urban collaboration, illuminating a path to worldwide sustainable development. With our excellent track record, our mission is to extend our positive impact and network beyond the Asia Pacific, striving for a truly “global” sustainable development. One of CityNet’s standout initiatives is City-to-City cooperation, a method that encourages cities to exchange experiences and support one another through our network. An example is Bhutan Thimphu City’s collaboration with Seoul City in 2017, where they shared their water management plan.
So far CityNet has been predominantly active within the Asia-Pacific cases. However, we faced challenges due to our limited experience. To overcome this, I looked into the approach adopted by UN-ESCAP, our parent organization. One of the solutions was to engage non-regional members like the United States, the UK, France, and the Netherlands to share their best practices. I’d like to implement a similar approach to CityNet. I am making an endeavor to amend our charter during the upcoming ExCom. This is my new vision for CityNet.
Balance Game: No Plastic vs. No Air Conditioner
PA: CityNet has been a pioneer in bringing forth sustainable development throughout the region, including aspects of zero waste and low carbon. To achieve these goals, would you prefer not to use any plastic in the office or prefer not to use air conditioning at all in the office?
CEO: Definitely not using plastic in the office. I cannot live without air conditioning.
With the exchange of smiles, our first interview series with CEO Jeong-kee Kim drew to a close. From his involvement in high-level events to his aspirations for the organization, his words painted a vivid picture of his commitment to CityNet’s growth. We are eager to embrace your questions regarding this interview.
Seoyoung Lee is a Program Assistant at CityNet, primarily assisting capacity building and cluster activities. Prior to joining CityNet, she worked in the Urban Economics Spatial Big data lab as an intern for a year. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in urban planning and Real Estate.