He greets everyone with a boyish smile and an equally warm yet firm handshake. He starts a friendly banter to break the ice. He could’ve very well been one of his country’s best ambassadors, and in a way, he is. Meet Dr. Gavin Dai ZhiHua, CEO of the Philippine representative office of the largest telecommunications equipment maker in the world, Huawei. Dr. Dai—as he is commonly referred to— is a recognized telecom leader who had been with Huawei for 17 years, since joining in 1997.
In an exclusive interview, Dai proudly told The Manila Times of the success of their most recent activity in the country dubbed 2014 ICT Carnival, with the theme “Pave the Future a Better Way.” The event introduced Huawei Philippines’ latest offerings, as well as the company’s insights on vertical industries and advanced technologies, including Agile Switch, unified communication, video conferencing, safe cities, server and storage, among others.
Huawei is a leading global information and communications technology (ICT) solutions provider. The company has built capabilities of providing end-to-end solutions across the telecom carrier network, enterprise network, consumer and cloud computing fields. Its parent company Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. is a Chinese multinational networking and telecoms equipment and services company headquartered in Shenzen, Guangdong.
The company was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in the People’s Liberation Army. Huawei started with the manufacture of phone switches, but has since expanded to include building telecommunications networks, providing operational and consulting services and equipment to enterprises both inside and outside of China. Today, its products include mobile and fixed broadband networks, consultancy and managed services, multimedia technology, smartphones, tablet computers and dongles.
In the Philippines, Huawei established its headquarters in 1999. The company has currently more than 1,300 employees, with nine offices covering Metro Manila, Cebu, Tarlac, and Davao. Huawei Philippines Inc. has also established an innovation center and a training center in the Philippines. According to its corporate data, the company ranks first in market share in the country since 2012, and has established strong partnerships with local telecom operators, inclusing Globe Telecom, Digitel, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), and Smart Communications.
Since being assigned to the Philippines in June 2013, Dai has “hit the ground running.” Saying he brings with him a similar directive of aggressive strategies in other markets they are in, his focus is on “customer centric values for the end-user and the enterprise markets, because I believe if we cannot create value for the people, they will not accept you.” Indeed, Huawei must have done a pretty good job in getting the trust of their customers in the Philippines, as they are now the dominant player in the enterprise space, partnering with practically all of the country’s network carriers.
Having cornered that huge segment of the market, Dai says he is now focusing on penetrating the mobile and smartphone markets. “Two years ago, Huawei established 3 business groups: one is the consumer business group, the enterprise and the carrier business groups. Along with the creation of these, is the building of our brand.” Personally, he thinks that the consumer market, along with the enterprise market will be the future of IT companies such as theirs.
Dai says in 2015, consumers will see them becoming more visible especially in the higher smartphone market segment, especially because their research and development division has enabled them to come up with more innovative and cutting edge technologies that can compete with the most popular smart phones in the market today. “We want to be at the top level, because we have the technology, based on the quality, design and style of our Huawei smart phones right now, (and) I can say it is even better than the more popular high end phones.”
He predicts there will be exciting new trends coming out with smart phones soon, and as such will continuously be both an opportunity and a challenge for companies like them. But they are ready for these challenges, he says, emphasizing what is important is to listen to what the consumers need and want.
This dynamic CEO says he is also happy to be in the Philippines, noting the country’s rising economic growth figures, and thus spending power. While he misses his family who is still based in Shenzen, Dai says modern technology has enabled them to get in touch with each other, whenever and wherever they like. It also helps that his family is just a short plane ride away.
These days, whenever he has spare time, he likes walking around the community where he lives and observe people and places. He is a people person, he says, and this enables him to appreciate his surroundings, wherever he maybe. He is also most thankful for a career that enables him to link people together through modern technology. This is certainly a career he says, he is truly fortunate to be in.