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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  • There's a lot of similarity between Shenzhen, the south China city where Huawei is based, and Silicon Valley in its early days, says 35-year tech veteran Ron Raffensperger. "Everybody's from somewhere else, which is pretty much what Silicon Valley was," notes Raffensperger, Huawei's chief technology officer for IT solutions. "It's all young people, tons of young people — it's just the same."

    Like its West Coast counterparts, Huawei is hungry for success. Set up in 1987, it is now second only to Ericsson worldwide as a telecoms gear provider, and claims fifth place in mobile devices — though it is aiming to reach third place within five years. It's also said it wants to triple its annual revenue to $100bn within nine years.

    The Chinese tech giant's youthful staff plays a key part in its efforts to fulfill its ambitious plans, and it recruits from all over the country. ZDNet took a look around its Shenzhen headquarters and its manufacturing facility in Songshan Lake to get an idea of what they can expect to find when they turn up for work.

    Image: Karen Friar

  • Huawei is only one of the local IT heavyweights to set up facilities in Shenzhen, which is in Guangdong province, just north of Hong Kong.

    Each year, hundreds of people come from all over China to work in the country's tech manufacturing centre, many of them recruited straight from university. They come despite the air pollution, the high rents and expectations of hard, long work.

    "The thing that you find here that you don't find in a lot of places in China is that the people feel like they can become anything they want," Raffensperger said.

    Image: Karen Friar

  • The average age of workers at Huawei's headquarters is 29, many of them engineering graduates scouted from China's best universities. "People join young and work hard," says Huawei spokesman Roland Sladek.

    Employees often punch in before 8:30am and punch out after 6pm — though they will stay late and also tend to work while mobile, he added.

    The well-kept gardens and public spaces of Huawei's two-square-kilometre campus were virtually empty most of the time we were there, apart from at lunchtime, when crowds poured out of offices headed for the company's many canteens. People get one-and-a-half hours for lunch, in two shifts starting at noon and 12:30pm.

    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