Huawei in Berlin: Piloting the digital future
Name: Ingobert Veith
City of origin: Munich
Position: Senior Manager Government and Regulatory Affairs
Huawei recently opened its first German Customer Service Center in Berlin. Ingobert Veith, Senior Manager for Government and Regulatory Affairs at Huawei, explains how Berlin’s experimental atmosphere paves the way for a digital future.
Shenzhen, which was one of the fastest growing cities in the 2000s, is home to Huawei. What attracts them to Berlin?
People come to Berlin’s vibrant startup scene from all over the world, there’s immense creativity and a strong focus on users and applications. Car sharing, flat sharing, major online fashion shops; Berlin is about living digitalization. We can pick up on the latest trends and developments right at the source. Huawei’s focus lies on providing the tools to make Berlin’s digitalization happen, through network infrastructure, the cloud and mobile devices. Berlin also has this experimental atmosphere. First live demos of 5G, the next mobile standard, were conducted in Berlin with our equipment. If you have a pilot project, do it in Berlin, because this is where the trends are set and people pay attention.
“If you have a pilot project, do it in Berlin because this is where the trends are set and people pay attention.”
Every country has its own approach to service. What will be special about the Huawei Customer Service Center in Berlin?
For our consumer business, we have used the Chinese way of doing service as a blueprint. Our goal is to change the way service is done in Germany and to interact with our customers more directly. Whether it’s hardware or software, if a customer has any issues with their mobile devices, we see it as our duty to support them. One of the elements our service team recently implemented here is a door-to-door service for some devices. If a customer doesn’t have time to come into a shop, we will come to them. Berlin is where the early adapters are, so we can start rolling out a service like that here. Moreover, we want to engage with the creativity Berliners have to offer. We recently held an event where we invited local clothing designers and photographed their collections with our devices. Things like that? Only in Berlin.
How does Huawei bridge German and Chinese working styles and how is the company culture affected by different mentalities?
What I had to learn about myself, as a German, is that I like to define a clear strategy with goals and measures in place before tackling a problem. My experience with Chinese colleagues is that there’s a tendency to start more dynamically, without knowing exactly where you’re heading. You find and adjust your goal along the way. The benefit for Huawei is that we take the best of both worlds. In the end, we have a sense of dynamism, whilst being planned and structured. You have to be adaptable and open-minded to make it work. If you have the attitude of "we do things my way, I’ll explain the world to you", success will be difficult for you at Huawei. The ethos of Berlin reflects this approach, which is why Huawei fits so well here.
China has many cities with over 10 million inhabitants, while Berlin only counts 3.5 million people. How do your Chinese colleagues experience living in a comparatively small city?
Many of my Chinese colleagues consider Berlin as the only sort of metropolis here in Germany. No other city can offer what Berlin can in this respect. It gives them an international environment and the advantages of a metropolis with great living conditions. Berlin has a diverse nightlife and culinary scene, without being too expensive. We have fantastic restaurants here, which is a perfect match because of the strong appreciation for good food in Chinese culture.
“I love the cities within the city. Each district has its own flavor.”
You’ve made Berlin your home for the past 11 years. What is it that keeps you here?
I love the cities within the city. Each district has its own flavor. You can build relationships and feel at home in your local Kiez (neighborhood) , but if you need new input or a change of pace, you don’t have to travel for hours. You just go out for drinks or a dinner in a neighboring district and it feels like you visited a different city. Berlin is an old city that never gets old.
You can visit the Huawei Customer Service Center at Alexanderplatz at Karl-Liebknecht-Str. 21
Photos & Text: blogfabrik - Paul Rikeit & Jacob Schickler