Life at Huawei's Shenzhen HQ: In pictures

Life at Huawei's Shenzhen HQ: In pictures

Summary: The Chinese tech giant drafts engineers straight from universities around the country to drive its huge R&D effort. What do they find when they get to Shenzhen - and more to the point, what are the canteens like?


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  • Just under an hour's drive from Shenzen is Huawei's manufacturing centre at Songshan Lake. Again, it's massive — 600,000 square metres — but modern, as it was only finished two years ago, and young trees are dotted everywhere.

    Inside the plant, workers wear colour-coded hats to indicate their role: blue is for technical jobs, while pink is for quality control, for example. On the shop floor, there are whiteboards with photos of each member of staff, showing pie charts and other data on their performance. And each day, workers stick a smiley on other whiteboards to let their colleagues know what mood they're in — happy, normal or unhappy.

    While the company is R&D-focused, it's trying to keep 30 percent of its manufacturing within the company, according to Gabor Schreck, director at the site. "We didn't have the capabilities in-house, and we're just building those now," he said. "We see manufacturing as a strategic value."

    A recent restructuring at Huawei moved manufacturing from all of its divisions — carrier, enterprise, consumer and emerging business — to this site, where access is tightly restricted. "We didn't do devices here till very recently," Schreck said. The company plans to double the size of the facility and has started building on adjacent land.

    About 10,000 people work here, in two shifts per day, and the company puts on about 15 buses to run people back to headquarters where necessary. "We don't expect a big jump in head count" with expansion, Schreck said, but noted that Huawei does take on agency staff to meet demand.

    Image: Karen Friar

  • Huawei also takes care of career development at its headquarters, where there is a 50,000-square-metre training centre (shown).

    On top of this, Huawei is in 150 markets around the world — it has worked on 38 of the 80 LTE networks in service, it says. This means that there are a number of opportunities for its workforce to see the world — something that helps with recruiting, according to Sladek.

    "An attraction is that they can work abroad," he said. "They can spend five years in Ghana as an engineer, for example."

    Image: Karen Friar

  • International tensions between China and other nations — as seen in this recent demonstration in Shenzhen over a territorial dispute with Japan — can be a stumbling block to Huawei's ambitions, though.

    In the US and Australia, it has run into opposition from the authorities in its attempts to get involved in building broadband infrastructure, for example.

    In the UK, however, it has got around concerns that its equipment may have secret backdoors accessible by foreign agents by putting itself under the scrutiny of government intelligence agency GCHQ. In September, Huawei announced plans to double its staff in the UK from 800 to 1,500 over the next five years, as part of a £1.3bn investment in its local operations.

    Image: Karen Friar

Topics: China, IT Employment, Tech Industry

Karen Friar

About Karen Friar

Karen Friar is news editor for ZDNet in the UK, based in London. She started out in film journalism in San Francisco, before making the switch to tech coverage at Next came a move to CNET, where she looked after west coast coverage of business technology, and finally a return to her homeland with ZDNet UK.

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  • R&D and Huawei? You've got to be kidding.

    The only R&D Huawei does is on stealing information, bribing officials, rigging bids. You're never safe if you're in the same room with someone from Huawei. Phones, laptops, USB sticks go mysteriously missing during meetings. NDAs mean jack to them too, they just have no respect or ethics and cannot be trusted.
    • Yes, R&D.

      Why is it hard to believe that Huawei has it's own R&D center? You're assuming that R&D means Research and Development.

      It could stand for "Retrieve Documentaion", through hacking, or something along those lines.
      William Farrel
    • so what's your view of chiness

      so you still think anyone from a soviet country can kill people by a newspaper in 8 different ways ?and who make the flame virus?
    • Life at Huawei's Shenzhen HQ: In pictures

      reminds me of reading an opinion posted in zdnet awhile back criticizing foreign-made computer cases as being dangerous because they are of poor quality compared to us-made cases. one particular criticism of south korean-made cases are burrs not polished that can cause cuts. well, now almost all good cases are built from the far east. add to that, south koreans are holding patents that us companies are paying to incorporate into their products. just wait for the chinese to develop the technology further, and you will see what 1.3 billion people can do in a lifetime. and for the sake of argument, let us assume that only 20 percent of those people are mensa-capable, they are more than half of the entire us population pulling their weight together to push their technology forward...
  • They could have gone with a better company

    then Aramark in the cafeteria.
    William Farrel
  • Life at Huawei's Shenzhen HQ: In pictures

    remind me of the 50's and the 60's when the us spared no expense to leapfrog in every facet of modern technology... and gave us all these tech wonders we are enjoying now. the 70's and the 80's belong to the japanese miti, the 90's and 2k's to the taiwanese and south koreans equivalent-mitis, and now the chinese are doing the same thing. r&d doesn't belong exclusively to anyone or to any nation. us technology came from europe, and by extension, so does the technology of the the far east. if anybody will notice the trend, civilization as we know it revolves around the earth. old writings point to ancient chinese technological prowess, then technology went on to the middle east, on to europe, then on to the new world, and now coming back full circle. for anybody to say that the chinese are good only at stealing information, is doing himself a disservice. nobody was born running and jumping straight from their mother's womb, we all learn by mimicking those who came before us. us learned from the european, who in turn learned from the middle easterns. the modern chinese learned from those came before them and developing the technology further. anybody might smirk at that assertion, just like the european did when us was developing their own technology divorced from european's undertakings. civilization is moving forward oblivious of any nation's trying to control it's march into the furture... so good luck to all of us.
    • Life at Huawei's Shenzhen HQ: In pictures

      Well put...
      Alexander Tang
  • Get a real view - this is an advertisement

    I have worked there a lot, plenty of smart people and products produced.
    But the canteens and the working environment for most is nothing like you show here, I am sure you enjoyed your guided tour and published what your hosts wanted you to.
    • Want to share more details?

      Hi Derek,

      I'm sure we saw the best of everything - but show me a company that wouldn't do that with visitors. Still, the people we did see did seem to actually be employed there. Where did you work with Huawei? Was it Shenzhen? What was it like there? Be good to hear more details, if you feel like you can share them.

      Karen Friar