Meet the Global LINERs

Business & Sales

Sehoon Heo / Business Management / LINE Plus

Introducing Sehoon Heo, lead for the Global Display Business team. After working as a digital marketer in advertising agencies and mobile game companies, he joined LINE to deepen his understanding of backend platforms and services — a key source of platform revenue — from a user's perspective. As team lead, he values aligning his team's roles and goals with the members' expectations.

A quick three-line summary

  • Sehoon is responsible for a wide range of tasks at LINE, from business planning for global display advertising to risk management.
  • For Sehoon, the word “challenge” represents the energy that individuals emit and the force that drives organizational growth.
  • He learns and grows by experiencing teamwork with excellent and trustworthy colleagues.

About Work

Q Please introduce LINE's Global Display Business Team and your responsibilities.

The Global Display Business team handles all tasks related to display advertising, especially in Taiwan and Thailand. Our team is somewhat unusual as we provide comprehensive support, from business planning to risk management. However, we don’t set monetary goals directly; instead, we focus on supporting the local entities in Taiwan and Thailand, helping them to achieve their sales targets. We verify if the local businesses are on the right track and provide support to maintain the planned direction. Advertisers on LINE either register their ad materials directly or through agencies. The operation is similar to most platforms and tech companies, where ads are set up and executed according to the objectives and needs. However, LINE has a significantly larger user base due to its messaging service. While other ad platforms may have limited reach, LINE, being an integral part of daily life, has a much wider scope. We have an overwhelming number of users — 22 million in Taiwan and 54 million in Thailand. This is a clear differential and strength of LINE. We leverage this by offering various ad formats that consider the characteristics within the messenger, providing touchpoints for advertisers and users. Above all, LINE values user experience, so we view ads as part of the content. For example, in the "Talk Head View (Smart Channel)" service, we focus on delivering information that users need and consider important, such as weather, news, interesting content, horoscopes, and promotions, right at the top of the chat list. We are making great efforts to provide an advertising experience that does not harm the user's experience. We gather voice and data from Taiwan and Thailand, then deliver data and communicate in a way that can assist with global platform strategy and decision-making. We have a similar team doing the same role in Japan. Essentially, we act as a bridge. Our ultimate task is always to contemplate, "Which direction will be more beneficial for the local entities?" as we carry out our work.

Q What’s your usual work schedule like?

I start my day by checking if there were any anomalies in the previous day's sales. Typically, I set up the week's To-do list on Mondays and also review the progress of the To-do items. After that, my day is filled with meetings. (Laughs) Business situations can change at any moment, and projects or issues can arise without notice. Most of my work involves communication tasks such as task distribution, review, and giving feedback to solve various issues. As my role requires a lot of communication with global stakeholders, having many meetings is inevitable, due to the need to thoroughly understand and discuss local situations. However, I set aside specific time slots to handle individual tasks.

Q Among the tasks you've undertaken thus far, what do you find the most enjoyable?

I enjoy collaborating with my colleagues the most. I used to have many overseas business trips before COVID and found it enjoyable to work with a sense of belonging with my colleagues through face-to-face collaborations. I recently took a business trip to Taiwan for the first time in about four years, the first time in a long while due to COVID. It was really fun to catch up and share various stories. This made me reflect on our way of working. I thought about whether there had been any difficulties due to only collaborating online for so long, but there weren't any. While face-to-face collaboration certainly has its advantages, it was a moment when I felt that not only our organization but also LINE as a whole had gone through a lot of efficiency improvements in overall work processes, including communication methods. It's hard to pick a specific moment or event as the "most fun," but it's truly enjoyable to directly see and feel the changes in the company and organization.

Challenges and Failures

Q We say we learn more from our failures than our successes. Tell us about one or two of your failures.

I think 2022 was a challenging year for the digital advertising industry as a whole. It was a time when the unique era of COVID was going away and the overall economic situation wasn't great either. Advertising is a field that is greatly influenced by external circumstances, and when it overlaps with a period when performance management becomes sensitive in companies, the first thing to be cut is often the advertising marketing budget. We were not able to avoid this situation. However, I believe this period provided a good opportunity to check the current position of the LINE advertising platform. The history of LINE's advertising services being provided in the market is not long. There are differences by country, but it's only been about five to seven years. As a new platform, it received a lot of attention in the early stages, and there was a lot of demand for advertising. After a period of experience, we took some time to calmly look at which areas to expand support and prioritize in the face of the global economic downturn and austerity.

Q What does the word “challenge” mean to you?

To me, a challenge is "energy." Life would be boring without challenges. What’s more, I don't think it's positive for organizational growth to only continue doing what you know and do well. A challenge can be defined as the energy that an individual emits and the energy that drives organizational growth.

Q Has there been a particular situation or turning point where you feel you have grown significantly through your experience at LINE?

Reflecting on my experience before joining LINE, especially when I worked at an advertising agency, I think I did a lot of work individually. Inevitably, a lot of work was focused on sales and consulting, and I was recognized based on individual capabilities and performance. However, since joining LINE, I've felt the importance of teamwork and colleagues. As I mentioned earlier, this is also why collaboration is fun. The synergy from having harmonious relationships with colleagues is great, and thanks to my colleagues, I'm always learning how to work as a team.

Thoughts on competencies

Q What competencies and qualities do you believe are necessary for delivering excellent performance in your role?

Since we often collaborate with people who are physically distant, it's important to communicate based on facts. We make a lot of efforts to eliminate generalization errors. Since we can't go to the location and see the situation directly, we have no choice but to understand the situations in Taiwan and Thailand through data. We fact-check what situations led to the data output. We don't just accept market situations or negative feedback from advertisers, but check if there is objective evidence. Understanding data and situations through official channels like embassies or trade promotion agencies is very important. Of course, basic knowledge and curiosity about the job are also important. You need to understand the digital advertising ecosystem. It's necessary to keep a close eye on competitors and market trends. Lastly, the most important part is to respect the opinions of your colleagues who are actively working on the front line and in the markets of Taiwan and Thailand, and to keep on thinking about what is needed.

Q When working for users who are based around the world, are there any considerations or preparations you like to focus on?

As I mentioned earlier, since we don't directly face users, we conduct our research as objectively as possible and closely watch economic and market trends. We always have to think about what goals and expectations advertisers have when using the service and spending marketing costs, and what the user's experience with advertising is like. Another thing is that we constantly identify what can be a common improvement for our services, applicable to Taiwan and Thailand, and what would be good for us to talk about. We look for areas where cross-learning can occur between the two countries within one platform, and we try to find points where we can voice the global perspective.

Special experiences at LINE

Q Please tell us a bit about the colleagues you work with at LINE.

My team members not only have expert knowledge in advertising, but they also excel at foreign languages and have excellent communication skills. And, above all, they have a burning passion for the business. It's an advantage that they've accumulated a wide range of failures and successful experiences through their global business experiences. They are reliable team members who are trusted and supported by our local colleagues in Taiwan and Thailand. I'm very proud of them! It's like a special forces team. As a team lead, I think I need to pay more attention to creating an environment where these special forces members can bond and recharge, not just focusing on fighting the war. (Laughs)

Q Is there any benefit or culture that you think is particularly notable?

It's the work system, especially Hybrid Work. I believe it signifies a high level of trust that’s formed between the company and our individual members. It feels like the company trusts, cares for, and entrusts its members. For example, there's an event called Friday Noon Live (FNL). It's an event where we invite interesting guests to give lectures, and it's conducted in both online and offline, in a hybrid format. Even though operating both ways requires twice the effort, it feels like it shows consideration for members of our company who working in diverse environments.


Q Do you have any goals you personally want to achieve at LINE?

Given my position and role as a team lead, my goal is to create an organization where my members feel fulfilled. I believe that good results can be achieved when working with competent colleagues. As LINE's display advertising has the potential for significant growth in the global market, I want to continue expanding the pie and create an organization where members can work feeling fulfilled.

Q Any message for those interested in this position?

While it may seem abstract, I believe this role can highlight the value of an all-round player. It requires building fundamental skills to handle unique situations at work and managing various tasks, thus we need generalists. Yet, it's also a specialist role, given its unique focus on advertising, specifically in managing display ads in Taiwan and Thailand. I recommend this unique opportunity to those who wish to experience both generalist and specialist roles on a global stage!