When the Going Gets Tough

June 10, 2020

By Jacky Chen, CEO of Huawei Indonesia

Many companies will tell you that their success hinges on offering a tailored experience to each customer. Customer-centricity is a seemingly simple principle, but it has a profound impact. Another value that has long guided Huawei is dedication, which means that we really make it our priority to work hard and to serve. These two core values, customer-centricity and dedication, have shaped Huawei’s culture.

Huawei’s vision as a technology company is to bring digital to every person, home and organization for a fully connected, intelligent world. Huawei’s rotating Chairman Guo Ping spoke on this theme at the 2020 Global Analyst Conference, saying “Since its inception, Huawei has been committed to helping more people, families and organizations benefit from digital technology, and to promoting world progress together with our customers and partners.” In the presentation Mr. Guo gave at the conference, there was a photo of a man, who is on the ground trying to free a vehicle that has gotten stuck, and his entire body is covered in mud. As it happens, this photo was taken in Indonesia. Maybe because of the mud, the photo reminded me of something I’d heard Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei say: the person who climbs out of the mud pit is a saint. Looking at this photo, I started wondering who this man was, and where he is today. I felt it would be worthwhile to find him.

Ren Zhengfei

Indonesia is constantly working on improving network coverage in the archipelago, gradually extending coverage to the densely-forested Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. In 2008, most parts of the island were not covered by mobile networks, leaving locals cut off from communication channels that people elsewhere already took for granted. In order to give the people of Kalimantan better access to communication, Huawei and its partners in the region set out for the island, well aware that extremely difficult conditions awaited us. However, we were determined to open up logistics lines, install base stations, connect mobile networks, to serve Kalimantan’s residents.

One day, as the team was driving to the warehouse, they found themselves bogged down after heavy rain turned the road to mud. Stepping on the accelerator would only dig them in deeper. They were well and truly stuck. Without hesitation, Benjamin Bunawidjaja, the man in that photo, who was one of our partners, got down on the ground and set about trying to free the vehicle. Soon he was caked in mud from head to toe, but as you can tell from the photo, he wasn’t squeamish about it. It wasn’t long before this effort paid off and the team was on the move again.

We wanted to thank our fellow travelers who struggled with us in Kalimantan all those years ago, and thank our customers, employees and our partners. But, for various reasons, we had lost contact with some of them. Therefore, we decided to reconnect with some of those people so we could express our gratitude personally, reminisce about those challenging but rewarding times, and learn what was at the root of the perseverance and dedication on display in these remarkable pictures. What were they thinking as they faced these challenges and hardships?

Ren Zhengfei

The process of finding people went surprisingly smoothly. I thought that what happened 12 years ago may have been gradually forgotten, and it may take days, if not weeks, to reconnect with them. However, it actually only took us half an hour to find the name and contact information of the man who took the photograph.

His name is Frankie Lai, and when I contacted him he was eager to share vivid and exciting stories about his time in Kalimantan, and he still remembered Benjamin, who was a logistics partner of Huawei Indonesia from 2007 to 2012.

Ren Zhengfei

When I asked about the photos, Frankie said “Yeah, it was a tough job, but we looked at it from a different angle. It was an adventure, and we enjoyed the work. What really mattered to us was the spirit of the thing. Beyond what you see in the picture was a memorable journey, and we had fun together.” In the end, the project was carried out successfully. Thanks to Benjamin and many like him, the people of Kalimantan are now connected to the wider world through a good and stable network.

This is just one story out of many. For 20 years, Huawei Indonesia has been actively contributing to the development of ICT in Indonesia. Huawei and operators have built more than 200,000 communication network elements, bringing 2G, 3G and 4G fully connected services, serving more than 80% of the Indonesian population. Our value of customer-centricity has guided us over those 20 years as we served the local society, empowered countless businesses, and worked with customers and partners to build an ICT network covering thousands of islands in Indonesia, connecting people and cultures.

This year, the company faces greater difficulties and challenges, and it feels as if the whole world is stuck in the mud, mired in the pandemic. The same grit and dedication that had Huaweiers slogging in the mud in 2008 now drives us to fight this pandemic by contributing AI diagnosis capabilities to hospitals, and bring video conferencing and online training capabilities to educators who would otherwise be left spinning their wheels in lockdown. In spite of everything, we firmly believe that concerted efforts can get us through this. The tough KEEP GOING!