Worth the Commute?

Charles Ahn

Dr. Ahn, who is characteristically modest, has been one of the most influential and widely respected entrepreneurs in Korea. For another perspective, see Business Week’s 2002 profile of Dr. Ahn Conscious of my lack of knowledge and experience in management, I enrolled in the EMTM program and commuted every other week from Seoul to Philly. At that time, there was no such program in Korea, and I believe EMTM program was worth the 24-hour(!) commute.


Charles Ahn, MD, PhD,EMTM’97, MBA
Chaired Professor of Entrepreneurship
Graduate School of Innovation & Technology Management


My EMTM Transformation

I graduated from medical school in Korea and headed toward a career in medical research. At the same time, I was interested in computer programming for my research. In 1988, I found a computer virus in my lab computer. I reverse-engineered it and wrote one of the first anti-virus software programs in the world.

For the next seven years, I had lived a double life – a medical doctor and a computer programmer. As a medical doctor, I did my research for arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) in the medical school. As a computer programmer, I wrote anti-virus software and gave it away for free to the public.

In 1995, I gave up my career as a medical doctor, and founded AhnLab, Inc,an IT security software company. Conscious of my lack of knowledge and experience in management, I enrolled in the EMTM program and commuted every other week from Seoul to Philly. At that time, there was no such program in Korea, and I believe EMTM program was worth the 24-hour(!) commute.

In 1997, I earned the elite status in three different airlines and a diploma in exchange for two years of my life. But most importantly, I got a grip on what the bridge between technology and management really means. After struggling through many challenges, AhnLab has become one of top ten most respectable companies in Korea.

For this, I am always grateful.

Sincerely,

Charles Ahn, MD, PhD, EMTM’97, MBA
Chaired Professor of Entrepreneurship
Graduate School of Innovation & Technology Management
KAIST