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Olivia Seo, TaylorMade Golf's regional legal counsel for Korea, Greater China and Southeast Asia, was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, before moving to Virginia with her family when she was 16. As you would expect, the cultures were very different.
"It presented a lot of unique challenges," she recalls. "At first, I just focused heavily on my academics, but slowly I started to open up more. All my classmates were so nice, and there was a large Korean American community in Northern Virginia. That really helped me to adjust."
Little did she know her dual-culture experience would pay huge dividends in her professional career later on life.
She attended the University of Virginia, where she studied philosophy and psychology. Being some big-shot corporate lawyer was never her dream, but after taking a gap year to explore the next phase of life, she entered George Mason University Law School.
"By this time, the student loans were [stacking up], so I didn't have much choice," she laughs. "I learned to really enjoy law while I was a George Mason and could see a future."
She passed the Virginia State Bar and planned to get a government job in Washington, D.C. However, the sudden passing of her father required her to return to Seoul to oversee family affairs.
Once back in Korea, she landed her first corporate law gig at LG Electronics before joining a team of 30 lawyers at steel manufacturing powerhouse POSCO. The pandemic hit while she was there, and like much of the globe, things in Korea shut down – except for golf. During that difficult time, the silver lining for Olivia is that she discovered her love for the game.
"You know when you just learn golf, and you're really intrigued for that first year? You're so crazy about it! That's what happened to me, and it inspired me to apply to TaylorMade. So, I can't tell you how excited I was when I got this job."
Olivia Seo, TaylorMade Regional Legal Counsel
Her timing was spot on. TaylorMade Golf was in the middle of acquiring Nassau Golf, a Korean-based company that manufactures urethane and ionomer golf balls. The team had been working on the acquisition for some time, but negotiations stalled, as language and communication barriers were a contractual quagmire.
Her first major assignment was getting the deal back on track and eventually completing it – which she accomplished with great aplomb. After the acquisition, there was still work to be done. Olivia helped integrate the company, change its name, and appoint officers and directors. She also helped the HR team with various compensation and benefits related projects. She made sure that nothing got lost in translation and continued to provide help and support to the teams in Korea and Carlsbad.
Olivia's contribution was crucial to the acquisition's success and TaylorMade's expansion in the golf ball category. Adding Nassau Golf strengthened TaylorMade's position in the global market and allowed it to better serve its global businesses and meet strong demand for its golf ball models.
"I think all of my experiences, professionally and in life, really prepared me for this very big task," she reflects. "I'm so thankful to be on Team TaylorMade, to be working in golf and have the chance to contribute to a global brand."