Huawei Australia chairman, John Lord, has said the company plans to assume a leadership role in the Australian ICT industry, with education and training at the core of the new initiative.
In an interview at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Lord said Huawei had not sought a leadership role globally to date as the company had been focused on growth.
“The company always does that and that’s what motivates us and keeps us going,” he said.
“The commercial success over the last few years has leapt up and has forced us to take a leadership role.”
Now the third largest smartphone maker in the world behind Apple and Samsung, the company aims to further increase mind-share, particularly in Australia.
Lord said Huawei’s involvement in areas of innovation and technology such as 5G development gave the company the authority and the imperative to take up the mantle.
The main problem Huawei traditionally faced in western markets, including Australia, is the perception of Chinese companies in general. As the largest to come out of the country, Huawei has had to bear the brunt of this scepticism.
“They [consumers] really do think it is a lower cost, lower quality player,” he said.
Lord said Huawei had invested significant time and energy in educating consumers, businesses and Governments including visits to Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen China, and once these groups were exposed to the facilities, the negative perception quickly changed.
“We have taken that on pretty seriously, we have taken over 50 politicians over to Shenzhen for example,” he said.
The company has also conducted cultural and training exchange with university students in its Seeds for the Future program. It conducts 500 individual visits to its facilities in China as part of the program.
A major part of the training and education piece was the construction of a training and innovation centre at Huawei’s Australian offices in Chatswood, a $30 million investment.
The goal of the centre is to engage the ICT community including partners and customers to conduct experiments and tests, train with and investigate ICT equipment and software.
Lord said one of the main goals of the centre was to help partners develop skills with Huawei technologies, particularly in the enterprise space.
“With the Internet of Things, 5G, with the innovation going on, we are now going to get into new industries that we haven’t gone into before,” he said.
In Australia, Lord said those industries would be energy and resources, agriculture, transport. He added the movement into these markets will all be in enterprise.
Chris Player travelled to Mobile World Congress as a guest of Huawei Australia.