Daniel Shin Un Kang is 23 years old. He is passionate about developing people and building organizations to achieve equity. Professionally, he is serving as the management consultant at Oliver Wyman, while leading social impact efforts in the Montreal office. In light of shifting of demography and longevity, he plans to drive efforts in finding a solution to senior poverty globally through policy, co-operation, and grassroots effort in the pension and labour sphere. Daniel Shin Un Kang's mentor is Mir Kazim Ali.
Q: Tell us a few things about your country, and also your life's story!
A: I'm a Korean-Canadian - think along the lines of kimchi poutine.
South Korea has recently gained popularity in both in terms of business and culture. Many of South Korea's companies are at the global stage with Samsung leading the charge. Culturally, food and entertainment have been introduced to all parts of the world.
Canada is a strong country. Beyond the stereotypical activities such as playing hockey and eating poutine, it places with a great deal of effort in doing the right thing.
A little about me. Born in 1994, I immigrated to Canada in 2003. Since then I've been lucky to have a wealth of experiences despite some hardships due to my modest financial background. I'd say 2003-2011 were my preparatory stages, which yielded results by 2012. In 2012, I graduated with the highest grade in the school, receiving the Governor General's Award, which is the highest academic honour in Canada. At the same time, generous donors and foundation support my education and my family throughout my 4 years at McGill University. In 2013, I became a licensed pilot sponsored by the Department of National Defense. In 2014, I spent a semester abroad in South Korea and first found out about the 45% senior poverty rates. In 2015, I started my Remember the Elders Project to reduce the 45% senior poverty rates in South Korea with support and validation from Clinton Global Initiative, OZY Media, Google, and Emerson Collective. I graduated in 2016 and worked in venture capital before moving into management consulting.
Q: What is your view of the world as it is today? And how do you define the concept of a better world?
A: My view of the world stems from my belief in God and relationship with God. To be clear, this is not some vague conception of the world. It has practical application of how I can be of help to make a better world. To me, the concept of a better world is more people experiencing inner joy and peace. These are different from pleasure and lethargy - happy to discuss the differences in person.
Q: What are some of the key challenges in your society?
A: One of the key challenges in South Korea is the structural shift in demographic with outdated financial infrastructure. For example, the senior poverty rate in South Korea is 45%. This rate jumps to 70% for seniors living on their own. Outdated pension systems.
Q: As a young individual what are a few of the hurdles that you had to overcome up until today?
A: Coming from a low-income, immigrant family in rural parts of Canada, my main obstacles were a lack of opportunity. They stemmed not only from lack of finance but also lack of knowledge - not knowing what's out there.
Q: Why is the role of a mentor important for you?
A: Mentors have had an immense influence on me. I'm a first-generation immigrant and farm boy. I lack context, knowledge, and network. It is my mentors who have helped me throughout the process, despite my immaturity to acknowledge my shortcomings from time to time. Mentors provide far more than guidance.
Q: Do you have a lesson that life has taught you and you would like to share?
A: 1. Life is unfair, but you have to make the most of what is given to you.
2. Sometimes it's just dumb luck. Just because you're qualified doesn't mean you'll achieve X. Same way, just because you're unqualified doesn't mean you won't
3. Relax, life is short, but not that short.
Q: Name a project, a foundation or a person in your country that you think is doing great work in helping improve other people's lives!
A: Peter Singer: sharing the framework of effective altruism. While it has some limitation, it's a great framework, with many young people thinking less about "warm glow" of helping others, and thinking critically about impact.
Q: Share with us a phrase, a poem or a story that you love or you find interesting!
A: "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision" - Bertrand Russell
I need to be cautious when I'm convinced I'm sure of something.
Q: Tell us one thing that you have learned from your mentor.
A: The lesson I learned is that life doesn't get easier. Constantly have to hustle and re-invent yourself not only for "career success", but to live according to your own purpose, ideas, and rules.