An epic Shenzhen story-First Part

I had a lot of questions in my mind as I was boarding Turkish Airlines’ Hong Kong flight. I haven’t exactly decided yet which questions I should ask the Huawei officials in their Shenzhen headquarters. Actually, I’ve already set my focus on two essential matters:

Firstly, I would inquire about how to overcome the challenges of digital transformation in companies, secondly, how to achieve sustainable development through technology. As Huawei invests 15-20 billion USD per year in R&D and Technology, I thought that “faith” wasn’t the only driving factor behind such determinism. We all think that technology is the future but obviously Huawei had other reasons as well for their huge success.

As protesters were gathered around the airport, I stepped into thick, hot, humid air after I have passed through the passport control in Hong Kong Airport and taken the car that was sent to pick me up. I let the air-conditioned comfort of the car sooth my nerves and body since I was wearing a waistcoat beneath my jacket as usual. Smiling friendly, the driver passed me a document to complete. Apparently, I would have to go through the customs check again before being allowed to enter People’s Republic of China. I stepped out of the car when we came near the border; I went through the passport check. Here’s my brief conversation with the Passport Police:

  • What is the purpose of your visit?
  • I have a meeting with Huawei Executives.
  • Do you have an appointment?
  • They invited me to join them for a meeting.

When the conversation was over, it only took two seconds to approve my entry to the country. Apparently, Huawei’s power and influence throughout China is just indisputable. I’m talking about a company that operates as a solution partner with 228 out of the world’s 500 largest companies and 58 out of the world’s 100 largest companies. When compared to public telecommunications corporations in China, Huawei was first found in the mid-1980s at a small flat and today it gets valued at billions of dollars. So, it’s only normal that Huawei is considered a “hero” in the eyes Chinese people.

Despite the rainy weather in Shenzen, Suzie Wang’s sun-like smile has just warmed my heart. Having pursued and completed her studies in Canada and then worked in the UK for a while, Suzie Wang is a recent discovery by Huawei. Currently, she manages Huawei’s Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) program. Wang is a young, attentive and elegant woman. My first impression of her was that she was very nice and friendly. She provided me with some insight on our meeting schedule at Huawei Headquarters. As one thing led to other, I found that she was a keen fashion lover and also a ballet dancer. As I am involved in music myself, it wasn’t hard for us to find a common ground. I must tell you that I was really surprised to hear that she was a Nick Cave fan is Mr. Cave currently is in his 45-year career. I told her that I’m a Lenny Kravitz fan myself and mad her listen one of Turkey’s rising stars’, Deniz Özdoğru’s latest single. I guess she liked the “sound” even though she doesn’t speak Turkish. There is something about music that seems to automatically bring people together.

The next day, we were headed to Huawei’s Shenzen Campus featuring European architecture and sprawling green spaces. Ms. Suzie and the other Ms. Suzie, who was our guide during the visit, took me to a building called the “University”, where I had the pleasure to watch a presentation on Huawei’s history and their future goals. Suzie Wang was patient enough to answer my countless questions about the company. Huawei’s success journey, started in a small apartment, involves a huge amount of experience and a certain philosophy that may serve as a lesson for everyone.

In the campus, I had the opportunity to review a lot of mobile applications on various fields including health, petrochemicals, energy, telecommunication, education and sports. I also had the chance to closely analyse new products and designs on AI, AR, Cloud Systems and Security. Apparently, Huawei offers alternative solutions to every problem.

Then, to access the building where we would have lunch together, we went through a green, large park featuring lakes and ponds where black swans were swimming peacefully. They asked me if I wanted to take a picture of the swans. You should have seen their utter surprise when I said, “No.” But, their surprised faces soon turned into smiling faces when I added, “They seem so peaceful. I really don’t want to disturb them at all”. These were my honest feelings as everything and everyone in that campus seemed so peaceful to me. This is a yelling and running around people-free place indeed.

As we tasted Chinese cuisine’s specialties for the lunch, I asked Huawei staff about the life in the company. Seemingly, a lot of people in China want to work for Huawei as, from working environment to wages, Huawei created an ideal world in Shenzen. It’s not an easy job to do indeed, considering a company with 180 thousand employees all around the world. I kept further questions to myself as later in the day my lovely hosts would provide me with more details about how this environment is maintained.

In the afternoon, I met with Mr. Qui Heng, President of Global Marketing and CMO for the Enterprise Business. The President is one of the few persons that contributed greatly to unlock the 5G world. “We must ensure that everyone has access to technology”, he says. Qui has an ultimate goal: “make sure communication and business always run like clockwork”. He made al lot of effort to maintain the systems work during the earthquake in Japan few years ago. Qui told me that this experience has taught them a lot. He also said:

“Although a company diversifies their suppliers, it can’t always tell the difference between the goods it purchased, whether they are furnished by the same supplier or a different one. A company may have several suppliers; however, if these suppliers procure from the same seller or producer company, then it means you’re running some serious risks. With the BCM (Business Continuity Management) solution that we have tested in 2006 for the first time, we offer projects to companies of different scales. Even the solutions designed for small scale-companies seem essential to larger scale-companies.” I really wonder whether Turkish companies bragging about their diversified supplier portfolio do really know from where or who their suppliers procure products or services from. Can they diversify the solutions? I have doubts.

In short, solutions that are offered by the Connectivity-Intelligence-Digital Platform-Personalized Experience quartet are based upon the pillars of chips, algorithms and architectural design. And the 5G technology, thanks to Bilkent University faculty member Professor Erdal Arıkan’s formulation, is here to feed them all… This invention will open the doors to new experiences.

By the way, Mr. Qui showed me some examples proving that “machine learning” (in every area from Finance to Healthcare) will help the world become a place where robots will talk and offer solutions. Heng also told me that the new system they offer would help save 50% of inspection cost spent to inspect the infrastructure in energy and industry. According to Qui, a new network connected to “pre-detection” mechanisms will prevent failures and wear from damaging the business continuity in concert halls, stadiums, hospitals, airports and many other places. They are using the same system for offering solutions to prevent road accidents and traffic congestion as part of “smart cities” designing. Everything is designed and built to reduce working hours of employees working in dangerous work conditions and hopefully employ them in other sectors one day. When Huawei executives say, “technology for everyone”, they do not mean only the use of technology, they also try to make people’s lives easier and ensure valuable human resources are used for more creative tasks.

When the first-day meetings are over, Suzie Wang and I have decided to stroll around Shenzhen a bit. After a short walk, we passed through a street where people make music as they please. Under an overpass, an old lady was peacefully playing her piano on which “play me” was transcribed.

Finally, we approached the largest building of the district: Shenzhen’s 115-storey, 600 meter supertall skyscraper Ping An International Finance Centre. The skeletons of dinosaurs and other extinct animals are exhibited at the top floor of the building. I really would like to congratulate them on their decision not to run this storey as a bar or restaurant, instead creating a space for children have a good time at the top floor of a skyscraper. After a dinner embellished with lovely talks on technology as well as love and life, I returned to the hotel to prepare myself for the second day of the meetings. I was so thrilled that the next day I would see the new praiseworthy campus of Huawei.

Tomorrow: “Technology for Everyone” and Huawei’s Groundbreaking Campus