A conversation with Maria Luisa Melo, Head of Institutional Relations and Communications for Huawei Spain
Despite it being quite young (the company was founded in Shenzen, China, in 1987), Huawei is at present one of the leading worldwide providers of Information and Communication Technology solutions. Present in Madrid since 2001, when it opened its first office in Europe as part of its geographical diversification strategy, the company has grown continuously at a local level. The last few years have been particularly intense in Madrid, both technologically and corporately speaking. The head office was moved in order to match its growth in Spain and the largest store in the world outside China, was inaugurated. We take this latest feat as an opportunity to chat with Maria Luisa Melo, Head of Institutional Relations and Communications for Huawei Spain.
M.I.A.: Huawei has unwaveringly backed Madrid and Spain over the past decades. What is your outlook and your current presence in the city, after the HQ move and opening of the new flagship store?
M.L.M.: The Spanish market is of great importance to Huawei, both at a strategic level and at a business one. It was 18 years ago when we first started operating in Madrid, where we have grown steadily for the last two decades. During this time, we have managed to establish trustworthy relationships with its citizens and with its industry, institutions, administration and universities, with the idea of fostering the social technological development of Madrid and indeed the whole country.
We carry out this work from our head office in Las Tablas, where we have around 1,000 employees, 90% of which are local. However, we also operate from our recently inaugurated shop on the Gran Vía, in the city centre, which is Huawei’s largest flagship store in the world outside China. Our clients can find all technological novelties there, as well as leisure areas and workshops.
M.I.A.: What is Huawei’s current outlook regarding 5G technology and Spain?
M.L.M.: Spain is currently one of the pioneering countries in the deployment of 5G technology in Europe. One main reason for this is the nationwide support it received over the past years through the laying of optical fibre, which offers the necessary capacity to the new 5G base stations. As to Huawei, our work stands out because we have the possibility of offering our entire 5G end to end portfolio to our clients.
Huawei is a key company in the deployment of 5G technology in Spain. This year, the two pilot projects funded by Red.es to set up this technology – in Galicia and Andalusia to be more precise – include Huawei equipment. Also, in June this year, Vodafone announced its 5G commercial launch in 15 cities, including Madrid, and this was mainly accomplished thanks to Huawei’s technology.
5G will not be just a new mobile network generation, but rather, a true technological paradigm shift that will contribute to the digital transformation of the economy and many other vertical sectors, such as e-health, logistics, transport or tourism.
M.I.A.: What factors does Huawei consider the most competitive in Madrid?
M.L.M.: Madrid is of great importance to Huawei. Not only is it the capital of Spain and the seat of the main national institutions, but also due to the relationship we have forged over the last 7 years with the administration, on all levels, whether local, regional or national. Plus, Madrid serves as a multicultural and multinational platform on which many different and complementary ways of thinking converge, which are always enriching through their diversity.
M.I.A.: What is the company’s perception of its sector in the Spanish economy within the European context?
M.L.M.: The world’s economy as well as the Spanish one is facing great changes due to the transversal effects 5G technology will have. It will have an impact on economy and society as a whole because the world we live in is more global and connected every day.
5G technology will play a key role in the industrial digitalization in sectors such as public safety, the car industry, finance, healthcare, energy, entertainment or public transport.
We continue working on a firm support of the investment for the development of this and other technologies, which will determine the future of business, institutions and societies. As to the figures involved, last year we invested 14% of our profits in R&D and 45% of our employees are focused on this area – over 80,000 people in total. We have filed over 2,570 patents related with 5G technology and according to statista, Huawei is responsible for over 11,000 technical contributions to the 5G standard. At present, Huawei has signed over 50 contracts dealing with commercial 5G with operators from all over the globe and has also set up over 170,000 5G base stations.