Have you ever wondered what it's like to step inside a major tech company's campus, similar to Silicon Valley in California? Well, I recently had the opportunity to do just that when I visited the Huawei Dongguan Campus. This extraordinary journey immersed me in a unique tech world that felt like a slice of Europe within China. Join me as I share my unforgettable experience.
A Stunning Revelation
My adventure began in Shenzhen. The journey to Dongguan was very easy in a van with spacious, business-class seats, complete with a soothing massage function. It made me feel relaxed this early morning. The comfortable vehicle could have been a sign to expect the unexpected from Huawei.
I had intentionally kept myself in the dark about the Huawei Dongguan Campus, avoiding any preconceived notions or images. A couple days before though I was able to visit China's first 5G XtoB Laboratory on the Huawei Campus in Suzhou, near Shanghai, so I caught a glimpse of what a campus would be like.
I cherish the element of surprise, as they say, "expectations can lead to disappointment." I prefer to be astonished. As we passed through the entrance, my eyes fell upon a magnificent structure that seemed straight out of a Harry Potter film. My immediate reaction: "Is this the Campus? It's absolutely breathtaking!"
Little did I know that this majestic building was merely a fraction of the Huawei Dongguan Campus, serving as the main library.
A journey through Europe in China
Our tour of the library left an indelible mark. While I'm unable to share photos due to Huawei's privacy request, picture a colossal oval room, rising four stories high. It resembled a blend of an arena and an opera theater, crowned with a magnificent dome, intricate inscriptions, and a mosaic-tiled floor. I felt transported to a palace, surrounded by opulence.
Imagine this regal space housing around 80,000 Chinese books and 40,000 foreign-language books. The library staff displayed rare treasures, some centuries old and others exceptionally scarce.
Exiting the library, I glimpsed a complex across a vast pond that seemed like Gamla Stan, Stockholm's old town. Interestingly, it wasn't Stockholm but Gothenburg.
Later, we would dine at a remarkable restaurant in the Gothenburg complex, offering panoramic views of the pond and library. There is also an art gallery which we visited after lunch.
Surprisingly, our next stop wasn't Gothenburg, but a leisurely stroll through a park led us to another village what looked like a replica of Prague.
As part of our visit to Prague we hopped on a little boat tour and were served some Chinese snacks and delicious fresh fruit on our way.
After the boat trip we enjoyed a buggy tour through other European-inspired settings. I stood in awe of all the colossal structures and the perfectly rebuilt city centers of European cities.
Notably, the campus boasts a comprehensive tram system modeled after trains used by Stadler Rail for the Jungfrau Railway in Switzerland. This tram network spans 7.8 kilometers, offering convenient transportation within the campus.
Huawei's Inspiring Journey - A Tech Powerhouse's Origins
Huawei's story began in 1987, in a small apartment in Nanshan District, Shenzhen. As the company expanded, so did its need for space to accommodate its growing talent.
Situated in Shenzhen, known as the Silicon Valley of China and alongside tech giants like Alibaba and Tencent, is Huawei's massive headquarters.
In 1998, Huawei embarked on constructing its inaugural campus in Bantian. By 2003, this 400-acre campus became the global headquarters, housing 38,000 employees. Today, Huawei employs nearly 200,000 people worldwide, emerging as the world's largest telecommunication equipment provider, with operations spanning 170 countries.
Towards the end of the decade, Huawei required yet another campus to house its burgeoning ambitions. However, this time, they had a unique vision in mind.
Let me take you into Huawei's European-themed model village – the Ox Horn Campus in Dongguan. This enchanting workplace, evoking nostalgic European charm, is a testament to Huawei's forward-looking talent development strategy.
Ox Horn Campus: A European Fantasy
Opened in June 2018, Huawei's Ox Horn Campus, spanning 300 acres or 1.4 million square meters, resembles something out of a Disney fairytale. It's divided into four zones, each featuring 12 blocks inspired by renowned European cities.
The Ox Horn Campus comprises 108 buildings, housing not just offices but also a picturesque lake with black swans, a gym, a library, coffee shops, accommodations, a hotel, and numerous informal meeting spots. It seamlessly blends aesthetics with functionality.
The majority of the office spaces belong to Huawei's R&D department, with around 30,000 employees actively shaping the future.
Investment in Excellence
Huawei invested approximately 10 billion yuan (about $1.45 billion USD) in constructing this extraordinary campus. The 12 European-inspired villages include replicas of Germany's Heidelberg Castle, Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris, and other iconic destinations such as Freiburg, Burgundy, Bologna, Windermere, Luxembourg, Bruges, Oxford, and Grenada.
These zones are interconnected by a tram system modeled after trains used by Stadler Rail for the Jungfrau Railway in Switzerland. This tram network covers 7.8 kilometers, serving as the primary mode of transportation within the campus.
Harmony with Nature
In a region already dominated by towering skyscrapers, the architects consciously aimed to avoid imposing a single massive structure on the landscape. Instead, they designed human-centric spaces that coexist harmoniously with the environment, offering a break from the challenges of work.
This design philosophy pays homage to founder Ren Zhengfei's background as an architect and engineer.
A Hub for Innovation
The Ox Horn Campus houses more than 30,000 employees dedicated to research and development (R&D), a cornerstone of Huawei's business strategy.
Huawei's CEO and founder, Ren Zhengfei, recognizes the value of disruptive innovations, even if they fail. Failures in the R&D department have often cultivated exceptional talents at Huawei.
Global Talent Attraction
To succeed in the future, Huawei acknowledges the importance of attracting global talent. They've adopted a two-pronged approach: aligning employee compensation with international talent markets and offering competitive packages to senior talent.
In addition, Huawei creates opportunities for digital talent through comprehensive training, competitions, and job fairs. Programs like 'Seeds for the Future' and the 'Learning Academy' address ICT workforce challenges.
Investing in the Digital Future
Huawei's commitment extends beyond technology prediction. In 2013, they launched the ICT Academy, a school-enterprise cooperation project involving higher education institutions and industry-leading enterprises across 72 countries. Their 'TECH4ALL' initiative aims to develop two million ICT professionals over the next five years, investing $50 million to nurture 500,000 digital talents in the Asia Pacific region.
Empowering Future Generations
Huawei's flagship CSR program, 'Seeds for the Future,' initiated in 2008, selects top university students for technology training and cross-cultural exchanges. It now operates in 131 countries and regions, benefiting over 9,000 students from 500 universities. In July 2021, Huawei announced the 'Seeds for the Future' program 2.0, planning to invest US$150 million in digital talent development over the next five years, benefiting more than three million people.
Huawei's Commitment to Global Talent and Contests
During a recent event at the Huawei Dongguan Campus, Mr. Ren Zhengfei, Huawei's founder, shared valuable insights into the company's commitment to global talent development and its support for academic contests.
Supporting the Leaders of Tomorrow
"We are set to embark on the journey of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, during which a huge abundance of computing power will serve as the foundation. Young people today may become the leaders of the Fourth Industrial Revolution tomorrow. The reason we support contests is to build a stage for young people to shine."
Embracing Global Talent
"Huawei has always followed the principle of identifying and developing talent, but never seeking monopoly in this regard. We will continue opening our arms to embrace global talent."
Expanding Contest Sponsorship
"We will support contests over the long term, and will sponsor the organizers of both global and regional contests. And we will not only continue supporting contests but also increase our sponsorship for such events."
Opening Up Campuses Worldwide
"We will open up our campuses worldwide and support ICPC contests on our campuses. We will also provide access to our facilities where students can experience what it is like to work at Huawei."
Conclusion: A Visionary Campus
I would almost call it the best-kept secret of Shenzhen, a must-visit when in China. Unfortunately, this remarkable place isn't accessible for tourists. Only Huawei employees, their family members, and clients have the privilege of an invitation.
My journey was made possible by Huawei, following my attendance at Huawei Connect 2023 in Shanghai.
For those in our group who had visited Silicon Valley, home to tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Apple, they were equally astounded. Aleksa Gordic, an AI specialist with more than 75,000 followers on LinkedIn, who previously worked for Google and Microsoft was comparing Silicon Valley to the Huawei Dongguan Campusand found the Huawei Dongguan Campus far more impressive.
Such testimonials made my visit even more special. It wasn't just my first encounter with such an extraordinary campus; the bar was set incredibly high.
I can't help but wonder if I'll ever experience something as awe-inspiring in the near future. So Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Instagram or TikTok if you think you can top this up then you know where to find me, I am waiting for your invite.
Massive thanks to Huawei for giving me the opportunity to learn about the company’s vision and giving me an inside into their home. As well as inspiring me to keep digging more into the world of Technology and ultimately to keep developing my skills and knowledge to use it for the better in expanding Traveltomtom.