27. August 2015

Huawei Study Tour to China

In a series of posts, I will summarize and share some impressions from the study trip to China from a personal perspective.

The study trip has been organized by Huawei and especially Huawei Switzerland; the study tour group comprises 16 students from the area of Information Systems and Information Technology from Swiss universities all over the country, six professors and Axel Menning from Huawei Switzerland. 

The study tour is part of the ICT Competitive program of Huawei global which runs under the program called Seeds for the Future (Video) (Twitter #seedsforthefuture): All these programs are part of the Corporate Social Responsibility activities of Huawei global. ICT Competitive is a two-week program targeted at students from universities and has been established in 70 countries. The program for the Swiss group has been tailor-made and takes eight days, Monday to Monday.

On Sunday, 23.8., the group flew from Zurich to Hongkong where we stayed the whole day. Only in the evening, we went on to Shenzhen in mainland China. From our tour guide in Hongkong we learned, among others, these two things: "China is a country with two systems, one is free, the other isn't." and "In China everything is fake".

One country, two systems -
and two license plates
About the first Learning I made my own experiences in the Hotel in Shenzhen very soon after arrival: Very openly the hotel states that the most popular social media services, as well as Google, are restricted or blocked due to "regulations of the government". But using a VPN connection makes theses sites available again. 

Information about restricted/ blocked
Social Media sites in the hotel room
On Monday we visited different buildings of the huge Huawei campus which count 150'000 square meters in total (map). 

We started off watching the black swans on the executive campus. 

During the day we went to two exhibition halls, the general one and the one for the business group "enterprise solutions". We all were very impressed by the real large halls and the perfect presentations of the various products. Well done Huawei. 

In two presentations we got an introduction to the company by VP Global Public Affairs and were told some more details about the Corporate Social Responsibility activities.

Although Huawei is a Chinese company founded 1987, it is truly a global player. In total 170'000 people are working within the company. 76'000 work in 16 R&D centers around the world as well as in 28 joint innovation centers; 82% of suppliers are non-Chinese, and 87% of the financing come from overseas banks. In 2014 revenues were CNY 288.2 billion (USD 46.5 billion), an increase of 20.6% from 2013, and the group net profit reached CNY 27.9 billion (USD4.5 billion), up 32.7% year on year.

Furthermore , "Huawei continues to invest heavily in innovation. In 2014, Huawei invested CNY 40.8 billion (USD6.6 billion) into research and development (R&D), representing 14.2% of 2014 revenue and a significant increase of 29.4% from 2013. Huawei has invested more than CNY 190 billion (USD30.7 billion) in R&D over the past decade." (source)

In Europe 9900 people are working for Huawei in 44 locations, around 1600 in 18 R&D centers in 8 countries . In Switzerland Huawei has ca. 300 employees.

The company is privately hold, only (Chinese) employees may participate in the ownership plan. "There are 70,000 employees holding company shares" in 2014.  According to a 2013 research study, this creates significant advantages compared to Huawei's competitors.

More details can be found in the annual report 2014.

On Tuesday morning there were two very different presentations. First, Brad Hall talked about the cultural differences between the China and the Western countries. He discussed its implications especially on management in global companies. Here he referred to the case of the so-called Tiger Mom's explaining the different mindsets in education. He was really clear on his opinion about the challenges Huawei still has, despite its great success so far. He also addressed the issue of governments interfering the markets in order to support the development of certain industries. He clearly made the case that industries supported by respective government programs, e.g., in Japan or China, are less successful in its global development than others in the long run.

David Wang, president government affairs, talked about Cyber Security issues. In the beginning, he made a nice comparison between the roles in road safety and cyber security. One of his points was that cyber security is a rather complex issue with several players involved: "don't point your finger at just one party". As far as cyber security is concerned he explained very much in detail that a respective "cyber security strategy is built-in to everything we do".

On Wednesday Hank Stokbroekx gave us a very well structured overview of the 6 P's of marketing (products, pricing, promotion, place, people, process) from a Huawei perspective and answered the questions of our group in a long Q&A session.

Students listening to Hank Stokbroekx

During the early afternoon, the students began to prepare their group assignments.

Later the group visited one of the manufacturing plants in the greater Shenzhen area. Equipped with protective clothes we visited a production line for  PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards) which was really impressive.

On Thursday morning the group took off to the next destination Shanghai.

Huawei Study Tour to China - part 2

All photos are available under a CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 license

(Updated 1.9.2015)

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