ROI’s Meet the Team Series is meant to showcase some of our exceptional team members and share in their passion for all things economic development. We also have a little bit of fun to help you get to know the ROI Team more personally.
Meet Sasha Kim, ROI’s Senior Economic Development Manager. ROI headhunted Sasha all the way back in 2010 for her wealth of experience in the South Korean market. In her 11-year tenure, Sasha has expanded her expertise to countless different regions and has become an indispensable member of the ROI Team.
Can you share with us a little more about your role here at ROI?
I am ROI’s Senior Economic Development Manager. That means I help the associates with their outreach efforts, I do my own outreach, and I also like to stay in touch with our clients—economic development organizations (EDOs).
How did you discover the world of economic development?
I never imagined that I would be working in economic development but the reason why I stayed is because I loved doing what I am doing.
I graduated in Busan, South Korea with a major international trade. After a few years working in my field of study, I married my husband, and he was from Canada. So, I decided to pick up roots and move to be with him.
When I came to Canada in 2008, we moved to Quebec. I had a hard time finding a role in international trade because I wasn’t fully fluent in French at the time.
Thankfully, ROI headhunted me because of my experience in Korean markets. At the time, ROI was working on behalf of an EDO who was looking for South Korean companies interested in expanding operations abroad.
What trends are you seeing in the industry?
I’d say the biggest trends I’m seeing are the new and innovative ways EDOs are interacting with their prospects in the absence of in-person meetings.
Before, it was always about face-to-face meetings. As global travel ground to a halt early in 2020, many EDOs initially struggled to adjust their strategy to an online experience.
But as the pandemic progressed, EDOs quickly adapted and gained a lot more confidence interacting with prospects through a digital medium.
In fact, many of our clients are telling me they plan to continue with their Zoom meetings and tours even after international travel picks back up again.
What aspect of working for ROI do you enjoy the most?
I’ve always been a very intellectually curious person so working in the economic development world provides me with endless opportunities to learn new things.
I especially love speaking to tech companies because some of the things they are doing are just so remarkable!
But undeniably, what I enjoy most about working for ROI is the team. I will always remember when the team organized a secret baby shower for me. It was so touching. No one had ever done something like for me before and it meant a lot to me.
What does economic development mean to you?
I remember early on in my career, someone told me we are selling the region. For me, that’s not how I see it.
For me, it’s to give the company an opportunity to learn about their potential new home. I see myself as a bridge between the company and the region. My role is to help build a network between them. And when there are successful outcomes, it’s such a great feeling to be a part of.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about economic development?
I think a lot of companies, especially international ones, don’t fully understand the amount of assistance EDOs can offer to expanding companies. Or they think EDOs just want taxes, or there is a catch to the incentives being offered.
In many parts of the world, there is little to no support or incentives for expanding companies and you have to do everything for yourself. But in North America and other similar regions, it’s a very different story.
EDOs want to improve their communities and provide jobs for their citizens. They are willing to go the extra mile to help sweeten the deal. A big part of my job is letting companies know that this assistance is out there and how they can leverage it to make their corporate expansion project a win.
Favorite song to sing in the shower?
What would be your superhero power?
Teleportation so I can visit family in Russia whenever I want
If you could compare yourself to an animal, what would it be and why?
I was born in the year of the Monkey so I guess I see myself as a bit of a monkey
The sky is the limit – Unknown