Author: Tina Drolc M.Sc., MBA
Founded in 1987, Huawei is among the leading global providers of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. With more than 197,000 employees, the company operates in more than 170 countries and regions. Radoslaw Kedzia has been employed by Huawei Technologies since 2008, becoming Vice President CEE & Nordic Region in August 2019. In his current role, Mr Kedzia is responsible for the markets from Iceland to Turkey with 40,000 employees. The Slovenia Times spoke to Mr Kedzia at the Management Congress 2021 organized by the Managers’ Association of Slovenia.
How long has Huawei been present in Slovenia and why did you enter the market?
We have been in Europe for over 20 years and we have become an integrated part of the European community and markets. Our core values are being customer centric and our business success comes from it – their success is our success. We are present in Slovenia since 2015 in order to serve our customers and support them.
You are responsible for markets from Iceland to Turkey. How do you see digital transformation development in Slovenia in comparison with the other markets you are responsible for?
We see some certain fluctuations and some of the countries are quicker at adopting digitalization as their core competence, in the north of Europe a big part of the GDP contribution comes from digital services. Some of the countries in Central Europe also have a big drive and fully understand the necessity of being more digitalized, and what kind of contribution it makes to improving the lives of citizens. Every year since 2015, Huawei prepares the Global Connectivity Index and Slovenia comes 29th of 79 countries in our 2020 Global Connectivity assessment. Slovenia is one of the quickly developing countries and I think this is very encouraging for the citizens because they can not only use, but they can indirectly benefit from the services – if a company grows within the country it will contribute to the economic growth. Of course, every country needs to understand that to enable digitalization, in my opinion, there are 3 key words: connectivity, cloud and artificial intelligence, which is a journey and does not happen overnight. Focusing on digital can accelerate the move to a smart economy and, in the process, accelerate economic growth for prolonged prosperity.
What are your experiences with the Slovenian political, regulatory and business environment?
We are a business company and we are proud, that Slovenian customers trust us and recognize the value we bring to them. Our relationship with the government is in paying our duties, the taxes, customs, we employ Slovenian citizens according to the Slovenian state’s requirements and we operate in the country with respect to all the local and EU regulations and laws. We have to be a good corporate citizen in each among more than 170 countries where we operate globaly. That is our role. And the role of a state or government is to regulate the market in a reasonable, verifiable, open, transparent manner and to treat everybody equally.
Has Huawei found suppliers or business collaborations among Slovenian companies?
Of course, this is our strategy globally. We always work with local companies to build a stable business ecosystem. We always find local partners and we have a number of companies in Slovenia, as well as in the Adriatic region. We usually collaborate with our subcontractors, business partners and channel partners to provide services based the services on global standards, but localized for our end customers.
Can you mention maybe in which fields?
Firstly in the IT area where we have our channel partners who are selling our solutions to enterprise customers. Secondly, we have our subcontractors and our partners for technical work, who can work and deliver the solutions for our customers in the telecommunication industry – they do the installation of the equipment. Lastly, I think this is quite significant – Slovenia for us is one of the most important hubs for our European logistics – through the Port of Koper we ship products and components to all over Europe. As a consequence, we have strategic investments in Slovenia and we aim to continue our presence. We also cooperate with the logistics and shipping companies.
Does the supply chain disruption affect Huawei?
Who isn’t affected? This competitive struggle creates many waves of different consequences that we have not seen before. Starting from the global shortage of chips to the inability to use some certain software components. The global supply chain is interchanged, entangled from so many relationships that if you twist one it is like a butterfly effect and we probably, as a company originating from China, have a little bit bigger challenges than some of our competitors, but it impacts everyone.
Over the past 10 years, Huawei invested more than US$100 billion in R&D, in 2020, US$21.8 billion, which represents 15.9% of total annual revenue. What are your key research areas?
I am sure these are an impressive numbers. We are ranked in the upper top five global companies in terms of R&D investments according to the 2020 EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard by European Commission. We are also the most innovative company in Europe with the highest number of patents in some respected fields, mainly in the telecommunication area. We have 23 R&D centres in Europe and we are researching various areas. People usually know us for the phones, but we are an ICT company which develops products from the handset devices, laptops, wearables growing through networking equipment, cloud, artificial intelligence, computing power and support businesses. Our R&D support all mentioned areas and is customer centric driven.
Huawei established a new business unit in May 2019 – Huawei IAS (Intelligent Automotive Solutions) and for the first time presented itself at the IAA 2021 Motor Show in Munich. How does Huawei enter the automotive sector?
The essence is, we are a provider of intelligent automotive parts, we are not car manufacturer. Huawei’s intelligent car components are built upon our 30 years of ICT expertise. Among our solutions are Autonomous Driving Solution, Intelligent Vehicle Cloud Service, Augmented reality head-up display, equipment for smart charging etc. Huawei will never make a car because we do not compete with our customers. Our customers are the automotive companies and we provide solutions for them – to help car OEMs to build future-proof intelligent vehicles, delivering a smart, enjoyable, and reliable travel experience to consumers.