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An epic Shenzhen story

Emre Alkin

Emre Alkin

2019-11-13 31
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Yesterday, I told you about the first day of my visit to Huawei Headquarters in Shenzhen. Today, I’m going to tell you about my second and last day of my visit.

Before visiting Huawei’s new campus, I met with Lui Shuqing at the campus in Shenzhen. He runs the TECH4ALL project. During our nearly 1-hour conversation, we realized that we share the same perspective regarding a lot of global matters. Technology can definitely help your life become better. Shuqing and I strongly believe that good things that don’t get appreciated in normal life can easily turn into a value through technology and digitalization.

We have also agreed that there are two main obstacles to technology and digitalization: Social obstacles and Political obstacles. People who avoid using technology need to be convinced otherwise, they need to be introduced to new technologies and told that they would be provided with countless solutions, from health to education. To this end, Huawei developed a project called “digitruck”, according to which, Huawei’s people equipped a total of six trucks in Africa with several digital devices and gadgets in order to introduce African people to computers and smart phones. In line with this purpose, Huawei envisages to launch the “smartbus” project, involving tech-loaded buses driving around Europe.    The project aims to give EU people insight about cloud technology, artificial intelligence and augmented reality. 

Lui Shuqing has also told me that they are currently developing crucial projects to protect the rain forests in Brazil and Indonesia in cooperation with NGOs. The project involves the development of a device capable of recognizing foreign voices/sounds, thus alerting the authorities about ill-intentioned people entering the forests uninvited. To achieve this end, Huawei invests a lot of money in “connectivity”.

Other than that, they launched a mobile application capable of diagnosing eye problems in infants in Southeast Asian countries. Created especially to help doctors serving in rural areas, this application can contribute to early diagnosis through “big data”. Cherishing its “Technology for All” motto to the end, Huawei clearly proves that it can touch the lives of others. So, I told Shuqing that I’m ready to offer what’s necessary to make people’s lives better.

Obviously, technologies and smart devices created to touch other people’s lives must be affordable by everyone. Having easy access to technology in Turkey becomes more and more difficult every day because of import duties levied to protect not equality qualified Turkish-made devices and Turkish industries against foreign competition. I really can’t get to understand why the government keeps putting barriers to technology despite its pro-tech statements.  Actually, the reason underlying this policy is the fact that Turkey prefers to grow through only its construction industry, not through technology. Critical decision-makers might be afraid of “too much technology” as it may cause people to lose their jobs. I’m not sure whether these really are legitimate concerns. I can easily say that it’s not possible to produce technology in Turkey where it’s also not possible to buy an average smart phone with average worker’s wage. Using technology should not be a luxury experience. And out need for technology should not be abused neither by the government nor private sector.  

So, we hit the road in the afternoon to reach Huawei’s new campus outside Shenzen. I call it a “campus” because this philosophy of the company is built upon learning, designing and creating. To be honest, this new campus is even beyond your wildest dreams as it features twelve faux towns that are modelled after a different European city or university. The campus is split into towns. Each town is named after a European city, including Granada, Verona, Heidelberg, Paris, Freiburg and Bruges.  The lakeside campus even has its own tram system, in addition to several restaurants, cafés, leisure areas, libraries, fitness centres as well as music and art activities. Although the campus is closed to visitors at present, employees can bring their families on weekends. As a matter of fact, there are only a few companies in the world, having adopted the same vision and principles with Huawei. 

“The magic behind the success: Management Model !"

Huawei’s management model is based on pure experience, involving employees, managers and founders of different levels. Almost 99% of the company’s shares are owned by employees; which means the founder of Huawei only possesses one percent of company shares. The requirements for owning these shares are precisely defined. Huawei has also got a rotating CEO system. Each newly appointed CEO acts as CEO for a tenure of 6 months. The company contains a chain of decision not from the top of the organization to the bottom, but from the bottom pf the organization to the top. No one at Huawei puts the company at risk for his/her own personal interests or ambitions. The benefits that the company offers to its employees does not bring any financial harm to the company whatsoever since the company’s assets are used directly proportional to its employees’ happiness. Why Huawei doesn’t want to list on public stock markets because if they do this, they may run the risk of facing obstacles, trying to prevent them from investing in R&D and staff.  

My last visit was to the factory area where Huawei produces its cell phones.  They showed me their cell phone production line. I won’t go into details here but here’s the short version of what I saw: More than 80 workers used to work on one line. But now, only 17 employees work per line thanks to AI and robots. The company expect this number to fall to around 14-15 workers per line by the next year. I really don’t know why some people in Turkey still demand more and more “vocational schools”. How will these graduate help industries considering robots will become “semi-qualified workers” and foremen will be replaced by “artificial intelligence”.

Dear Friends… I personally observed and experienced the details I mentioned above. I witnessed how false were the accusations made by Trump against Huawei. I think, beyond Huawei’s technology, White House fears the possibility that the way Huawei is managed may be way more developed than the “American Dream”. If this approach of Huawei, trying to interact with people on the ground of equality principle, without exploiting the countries they invest in, touching people’s lives while giving the profit, made thanks to employees, back to the employees, has reach such peak capable of defeating Western Capitalism, then I think the US is right to be afraid. Obviously, each system has its advantages and disadvantages. Nevertheless, I felt so much better to see a system with core ethical values is still out there to face those types of managements that caused the doom of companies during the financial crisis of 2008-2009. 

A system capable of creating self-sufficient individuals that can live without falling into the “popular culture” trap, individuals capable of turning monetary profit into social profit, turning good into value, a system capable of establishing and maintain equality in health care and education. Such civilized system would be a threat to many people.  

As Iextend my sincere thanks to Spenser Blank and Suzie Wang for their great efforts in organizing this trip, I would like to emphasize once again that I will do my best to convince Huawei to establish closer cooperation with Turkish universities.

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