Is one's job salary everything?

By Justin Lai | 2018-05-15

If you’ve ever applied for a job before, then salary was probably one of the most important factors to consider. But why should we evaluate our jobs based solely on a number that gets deposited into our bank account each month? While everyone else was looking for higher paying jobs, Steve Suh did just the opposite.

Steve Suh is a Korean-American who was born and raised in Philadelphia, USA. After working a few plus years in the US, he decided to take a drastic step and move to China. In 2014, Steve founded Floship, a global cross-border e-commerce fulfillment, and logistics company.

What most people don’t know about Steve is that when he was working in the US, he was offered a six-figure salary from a top-tier biotech company. Now, most people would’ve accepted the offer without any hesitation, but Steve knew that salary wasn’t everything. Instead, he declined the offer to move to China where he started off with a base salary of only USD $1,200 a month.

We caught up with Steve to ask him about his decision and talk more about his story.

Why turn down such an attractive salary and move to China?

I was in the supply chain industry for about 7 years of my career and I felt that it wasn’t going to be my end-all-be-all. Now I could see myself being a director or a VP and make a nice salary, but was that really going to make me happy? Would I really want to wake up each morning and go to work each day? I didn’t see that, and I didn’t want to rot for the rest of my life either.

I felt that still being somewhat of a younger guy, I could take more of a bottom of the food chain position to learn more and make something out of that. Also, China was something that was always on my mind. I felt that if I worked for the #1 economy in the world, why not merge it with the #2 economy of the world? I had this sort of hunger to get to where I wanted to be. If I hadn’t taken that lower level job then I wouldn’t have learned a lot of the basics or have that drive. So, it just made sense for me to take that leap.

Did you have any regrets turning down the offer?

The moment I landed in Shanghai, I felt something lifting. I knew it was the right choice. And everything around me seemed to confirm it—meeting the right people at the right time, being offered business development work that was meaningful to me, networking with like-minded others.

The $1,200/month job turned into a better-paying job in e-commerce logistics. When my visa was about to expire, I went to Hong Kong and met my future co-founder. In 2014, we started Floship.

What is Floship?

We are a global cross-border e-commerce fulfillment company disrupting the entire supply chain industry. The beauty of our model is that online sellers can now ship to more markets anywhere in the world with ease through our various solutions.

What were some of the biggest challenges first starting out?

People and operations. When we first started, we didn’t have our own software in place. We were using existing software and just piece kit it together. Additionally, finding tech talents in Hong Kong proved to be very difficult.

This resulted in scalability issues, where things that were supposed to be automated was now being done manually. Even in the early days, I had to personally get involved with packing and shipping because we just had so many orders to fulfill before Christmas time.

What was the biggest factor for the success of Floship?

Resilience. Not just from me, but from everyone involved. Especially my co-founder and the management team. There were days when we asked ourselves if we even had enough cash for the next month. But we just knew inside that we would get this money from somewhere and made it happen.

If you went back 10 years, what lesson would you have taught yourself?

I followed the money in the very beginning. Which is great and all, but if you want to think about the long-term future then you should think about what you really enjoy and focus on that. It’s about getting out of your comfort zone and really pursuing what you love doing.

What are some of your plans for Floship?

Of course, I want Floship to be successful in the industry. However, what I want more is for Floship’s culture to be infectious. To have it spread not only across Hong Kong but the world. When people hear about our success, I want them to know that we became successful the right way. That we have good people who practice business in the right way without taking any shortcuts. This is our culture at Floship.

Inspired by Steve and his journey? Do you share his passion and interest? Floship is looking to expand their team and have like-minded talents join their family:

1) eCommerce Logistics Account Executive
2) Logistics Intern
3) Accounting Intern
4) Human Resource Intern
5) Junior Developer

Check out the lastest job openings here 👇🏼

Wantedly is a Tokyo-listed company founded in 2010, with the mission to Create a World where Work Drives Passion. We provide a social recruitment platform that connects like-minded companies and talents based on their passions and interests.

We currently have over 30,000 companies using our services, e.g. from Sony, Airbnb, Dropbox to local startups like Boxful and Goxip, with 1.2 million monthly active users worldwide.